72nd Annual Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Conference Report, Providence, RI (April 24-28, 2019)

By Aimee Lind, Getty Research Library (ARLIS SAH Liaison)

The 72nd Annual Society of Architectural Historians conference was held in Providence, RI from April 24-28, 2019. As it was my first time visiting Providence, I wasted no time exploring the city’s historic Downtown and residential College Hill neighborhood by foot. Of course, as a librarian, I couldn’t help but visit other libraries, and Providence has some great ones. I particularly enjoyed seeing RISD’s extraordinary Nature Lab and Visual + Materials Resource Center, as well as the delightful Athenaeum.

RISD Nature Lab,  Edna Lawrence Natural History Collection

Providence Athenaeum

Rhode Island State House (McKim, Mead, & White, 1895-1904)

Industrial National Bank Building (aka Superman Building) ( Walker & Gillette, George Frederick Hall, 1928)

 

Old Stone Bank Building (C.J. and R.J. Hall, 1854)

Wednesday Evening

The conference got started on Wednesday night with the Opening Night Social Hour, held in the ballroom of the Rhode Island Convention Center, followed by the SAH Business Meeting. SAH President Sandy Isenstadt spoke about the present state and future directions of the organization:

Strategic plan for the decade ahead developed two years ago

  • Global and local approach to promoting the study of the built environment
  • Teaching and scholarship
  • Financial sustainability
  • Nurture next generation of scholars; promote diversity

In evidence at this conference

  • Paper sessions on new regions and issues
  • Inaugural Edward Sekler talk
  • Graduate student resources
    • Book group
    • Lightning talks
    • Mentoring cafe
    • Free professional headshots
  • Addition of poster sessions
  • Session on Vectors of Change, pressing issues coming to the fore
  • Pop Up session on Notre Dame

JSAH made some online issues open access in order to raise awareness of the journal. The issue on the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus has been accessed by 150,000 people.

Buildings of the US & SAH Archipedia continues to lower barriers to access with more scholarly content in a more user friendly format.

Archipedia 3.0 now has:

  • Open access including metadata
  • Mobile friendly
  • Updated legacy materials
  • New back-end /content mgmt system

SAHARA now features highlights with themes.

SAH is providing youth outreach, funding fieldtrips for underserved K-12 students, teaching them to observe and analyze the built environment.

For adults, there were study programs / field seminars /study days:

  • 2018 Cuba
  • 2019 Japan (12 days, led by Ken Oshima)
  • Summer 2020 N. China and Mongolia (led by Nancy Steinhart)
  • Study days at National Museum of African American Culture, DC

A two year grant from the Mellon Foundation is underway to gauge health of architectural history as a degree of study and gather data about the academic status of this study in higher education. Sarah Dreller will be leading this research.

He took the opportunity to review the SAH policy statement

  • Core values
  • Personal conduct
  • Position statements (ACLS)
  • New page on website, Click on ADVOCACY tab

…and then Treasurer Michael Gibson reported on the organization’s finances and fundraising events:

  • Chicago Arts Club Gala raised $139,000
  • Fall fundraiser Weimar, Dessau, Berlin tour sold out in hours
  • July 17th NYC Century Club event honoring Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Finances 2018

  • Successful fundraiser in Paris
  • $110,000 unrestricted donation
  • $70,000 netted from St Paul conference [Clarification:  $70,000 is the net figure prior to expense allocations, which aren’t applied until the end of the fiscal year. SAH actually netted $-3K after expenses and administrative allocations.]
  • Bumpy rise with investments but currently at 5.7 million, 4.5% draw rate from portfolio
  • Half of funds raised for Charnley-Persky House

Grants

  • Gill Family Foundation for grad students
  • NEH Open Humanities Portfolio Program
  • Mellon Grant, arch history in higher ed study

Following the Business Meeting, we were treated to an introductory address by Barnaby Evans, founder of Waterfire Providence, who gave a great talk about the history of the city, its architecture, and the preservation movement that has led to such a vibrant downtown.

Thursday

On Thursday I attended several open panel sessions that included papers on topics as varied as Memorial Libraries as Cenotaphs, the Paris Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, College Unions, CIAM, Boredom, Installation Art, and the 1964 New York World’s Fair Pavilion of Spain as well as a panel session called Space, Architecture & Cultural Identity: Materializing Asian America.

The entire conference program with abstracts is available here.

Of great personal interest to me was the roundtable on The Preservation of Digital Architectural Records, led by Ann Whiteside, a follow-up to last year’s roundtable:

Ann started off with a Building for Tomorrow update

2018 activities:

  • Building for Tomorrow Forum was held at SAH in St. Paul.
  • At issue: Barriers to collecting for different stakeholders
  • List of strategic directions over the course of the next 5 years
  • Held a Steering Committee meeting in May
  • Spent June-July refining the strategic directions
  • Late summer/early fall – sent out a call for volunteers to participate in several efforts:

Present efforts:

  • In 2018, connecting with Community Standards for 3D Data Preservation (CS3DP) (convened working groups)
    • Preservation Best Practices – Rebeccah Baker (NARA), Emily Vigor (Berkeley), and Will Rourke (UVa)
    • Metadata Standards – Katie Pierce Meyer (UT Austin)
    • Copyright/Ownership – Nicole Meyer (Morphosis), Nancy Hadley (AIA)
    • Access/Discoverability – Katie Pierce Meyer

Work includes – meeting with these groups to understand the work they are doing, and to  provide input about design records specifically.

2019 activities:

  • Creating an Effort Map and inventory of allied digital curation efforts; Volunteers include Rebeccah Bake (NARA), Nancy McGovern (MIT), Birgitte Sauge ( department of architecture at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Norway). They have created a map of digital curation efforts around the  globe, and have identified key contacts at those institutions to talk with about their work.
  • Literature Review group – to update the SAA Design Records Section bibliography (CAD/BIM). Volunteers are Emily Vigor, Matthew Allen (U Toronto), Emily Pugh (Getty), Jessica Qualiaroli (Yale), Kit Arrington (LC). They have updated the bibliography and are in the process of sharing their work.
  • Stakeholder Outreach Plan. This group includes Aliza Leventhal (LC), Pauline Saliga (SAH), Sylvia Welsh (Harvard). This group has developed a list of questions for interviews is software vendors.

Software vendor outreach is a next critical step in our work. IF ANYONE HAS CONTACTS, Please let Ann know asap. This has been the biggest challenge.

  • Presentations have been given at SAH 2018, AASL, 2019. A Roundtable session will be held at SAH in2019, also DLF.
  • Building for Tomorrow has had representation at the LC 3D Data Stewardship Forum in November 2019; Building for Tomorrow is a chapter in the recently published 3D/VR in the Academic Library: Emerging Practices and Trends. 2019. An article on the project was written for Arredamento Mimarlık,  Turkish architecture and design journal.

A lively discussion on these updates followed at the SAH Providence Roundtable. I am including my notes in full at the request of several attendees.

Need for educating design students about thinking about records upon creation

Session with Matthew Allen @ GSD; content: what is being produced? Teaching basic file management

Thoughts from practitioners?

  • Talk to deans of architecture schools
  • Teach archival awareness as an educational component of the degree
  • Make the case for preservation; cut through levels of bureaucracy to acquire and preserve materials

Firms not understanding that scanning once is not enough; preservation is an ongoing, iterative process

Animations: no consistency in software; models: CATIA, Autodesk, Form 2, FinalCutPro, Illustrator etc. files can’t be accessed; need ability to emulate software and computing environment; ideally firms need a dedicated digital asset manager to keep them up to date.

CAD  models etc.– print out hard copies but BIM can’t be printed

Bottom line, especially for state run agencies– what is the cheapest way to do this?

Students are just trying to get project done

Can we keep paper when possible/practical and only deal with digital when we need to? But paper preservation methods require maintenance too.

Some firms have archivist(s) on staff; file structure that project teams have to follow; established practice but generally only the larger firms.

Ongoing process but most concerned about smaller firms– need to be given mechanism and info to preserve.

Could we go to AIA and set up archive bureau so the message is spread? AIA disseminates message and pays to do so; could be part of continuing education credits/criteria for licensing.

Legal problems

  • clients own a lot of what is produced
  • Terrorism concerns with plans getting out

Not just architecture firms, but Engineering and GIS need to be captured/preserved.

Firm websites – web archiving, good way to capture at least basic information on smaller firms?

If only keeping final versions of models, drawings– concern over loss of depth of intellectual content / process.

Saving / organizing email? Even many archivists do a bad job of this. How can we expect others to do better?

So much data! Digital documentation of cultural heritage sites (archaeological) can easily have 10 years of data on one site.

Digital data will eventually be the biggest asset. How to protect data and protect against others being able to access it illicitly.

Are intellectual property rights shifting? In Italy you now need permission to publish photos taken at certain cultural heritage sites.

Drawings vs. models vs. 3D models made by 3rd parties -what is the true model/ record of a structure especially if IP owned by so many shareholders?

Software currently in development will provide IP/GPS location of anyone who accesses it as part of metadata; can self-destruct of not approved.

Concern for protecting moral rights of creators.

Documenting students / competitions- who knows what will be important to future researchers?

By providing existing digital archives for students to work with, would that help them understand the importance?

Harvard Archives keep student work for accreditation purposes; reserve right to use for non-commercial purposes; essentially persistent licence for non-commercial use.

Looking at doing digital design records pilot; where are roadblocks?

GSA standard for BIM modeling

May also need to talk to developers

Port Authority requires that architects/contractors use their hopelessly outdated software- who owns what?

Thursday Evening

That evening, the awards reception was held at the stunning Providence Art Club, followed by the inaugural Eduard F. Sekler talk given by Joan Ockman who spoke at the historic First Baptist Meeting Hall on the Future of Modern Architecture.

Providence Art Club (Sydney Burleigh and Edmund R. Willson, 1885)

Friday

On Friday I attended panel sessions on Architectural Drawings as Artifact and Evidence, the Spatial, Visual, and Social Effects of Surface in Architecture, Architecture & Copyright, Transatlantic Encounters: Africa and the Americas and attended a lunchtime roundtable on Pluralizing Histories of the Built Environment.

Saturday

Regretfully, my travel arrangements and a very full conference program precluded me from attending the closing event at the RISD Museum or going on any of the tours offered, clearly to my detriment. They included:

Sunrise on the Riverwalk

Roger Williams in God’s Providence

The Crest of College Hill

Social Class and Religion in Stained Glass

LGBTQ Providence Walking Tour

Adaptive Reuse on College

Before Antoinette: African-American Sites along Benefit Street

The Stones of Providence

The Architecture of Industry

Benefit Street

Newport’s Best-Preserved Colonial Neighborhood and Climate Change

Bristol’s Architectural Legacy

Gilded Age Newport in Color

Ira Rakatansky: Mid-century Modern in Providence

Rhode Island Vernacular: From the Stone-Ender to the Square Plan House

Brown University: An Architectural Tour

Parkitecture: The Built Environment of Roger Williams Park, 19th Century to the Present

Women Designers in Rhode Island

H.H. Richardson and North Easton, Massachusetts

Cape Cod Modern House Trust Tour

Complexities and Contradictions of 20th-Century Architecture in New England

Eighteenth-Century Newport

Great Spaces: Architectural Landmarks of 19th-Century Newport

Seaside Resort Architecture at Watch Hill

If you were lucky enough to attend any of these tours or have additional items of interest to report on the SAH Conference, please do not hesitate to comment below.

Providence, R.I.— you are a charmer, indeed. I’ll be back!

Architecture Networks Panel at ARLIS Salt Lake City

By Aimee Lind, Getty Research Library

For those of you who weren’t able to attend the ARLIS conference in Salt Lake City at all or were simply unable to attend the Architecture Networks panel, I wanted to share a summary of the content of the session and provide a place for feedback on the potential future form(s) a project like this might take.

The idea for the panel was sparked by conversations with colleagues over the past few years regarding ways we could increase discovery of our own architecture resources, highlight links to complementary collections, identify connections between collaborators, and facilitate creation of and access to metadata at a deeper level in order to bring to light the important contributions of historically marginalized groups within architecture and its affiliated professions. As we pondered how something like this might work, we began to focus on the component parts necessary to construct these architecture networks virtually:

  • rich, authoritative data on the people, places, and events critical to the study of the built environment
  • standardized, controlled vocabularies that can help link this data effectively
  • a flexible underlying system for data management
  • a user-friendly interface for discovery, and, most importantly…
  • individuals willing to put in the work to make it all happen.

I invited a group of esteemed panelists to speak to these essential elements in order to explore the feasibility of developing a freely available, comprehensive, authoritative scholarly resource devoted to the study of the built environment.

Alan Michelson, Head of the Built Environments Library at the University of Washington, discussed the past development and potential future directions of the Pacific Coast Architecture Database.

Margaret Smithglass, Registrar and Digital Content Librarian at Columbia University’s Avery Library, spoke about the challenges encountered while developing the Built Works Registry, as well as considerations for the future of the project.

Robin Johnson, Vocabularies Editor at the Getty Research Institute, detailed relevant authority work done within the Getty Vocabularies (ULAN and CONA, in particular).

and

Annabel Lee Enriquez, Associate Project Manager at the Getty Conservation Institute, provided an overview of Arches, an open source heritage inventory and management platform, and consider how it might be used for a collaborative project of this type.

Our goals were threefold:

  • to learn about projects, tools, systems, and standards relevant to the study of the built environment
  • to establish what a comprehensive, collaborative resource might look like and whom it might serve and
  • to gauge interest in participation at any level, from individuals contributing data to institutions facilitating larger initiatives

We’d allocated ample time for the engaging discussion that followed the presentation. Happily, many members of the audience indicated that they thought this was a project worth pursuing and several signed up to be part of working group(s) going forward. We hope some of you might like to do the same! Please have a look at the PowerPoint slides. Our goal in the coming months is to identify a preliminary dataset that could serve as a proof of concept for a collaborative grant. Interested? Questions? Please be in touch!

Aimee Lind

alind@getty.edu

ARLISNA 2019 Architecture Networks PowerPoint Slides

71st Annual Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Conference. St. Paul, MN (April 18-22, 2018)

By Aimee Lind, Getty Research Library

The 72nd Annual Society of Architectural Historians conference will be held in Providence, RI from April 24-28, 2019.

The program is available here: https://www.sah.org/2019/program

I attended the 2018 SAH conference in St. Paul, MN and found many sessions, particularly the roundtables, to be extremely relevant to issues facing ARLIS members working with architecture collections.

I’ve included a summary of last year’s conference below. Hope to see some of you in Providence!

_________________________________________

SAH 2018 Annual International Conference Report

Saint Paul, MN (April 18-22, 2018)

Despite the fact that spring had still not officially sprung in Saint Paul, MN, the 2018 SAH Annual International Conference was abloom with informative and inspiring paper sessions, panels, workshops, roundtables, and tours.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18th, 2018

My conference experience began with a visit to the Northwest Architectural Archives at the University of Minnesota. Northwest Architectural Archives “collects the records of architects, engineers, contractors, landscape architects, and interior designers from a region which includes Minnesota, western Wisconsin, northern Iowa, and the eastern Dakotas. Every type of document generated by these individuals and firms is collected: drawings of all kinds, specifications, job files, and photographs are chiefly sought.The collections span nearly 130 years of work by many notable practitioners.”

Our hosts Barbara Bezat and Cheryll Fong brought out a fabulous selection drawings that followed a theme of Built/Unbuilt. We were then treated to a tour of their impressive storage  facilities followed by a bus tour of some of the historic architecture of Minneapolis and Saint Paul that we’d just seen in original drawings.

Back at the conference venue, the RiverCentre, booksellers displayed publications covering all manner of scholarship in the field of architectural history while attendees enjoyed wine and hors d’oeuvres during the Opening Night Social Hour.

Next up, at the Business Meeting, officials provided news on SAH programs and initiatives, including the announcement of the 2020 conference location of Seattle. Topics of discussion included grants, Archipedia development, graduate student outreach, the SAH Architects Council, SAHARA, the SAH Field Seminar, and the treasurer’s report.

Following the Business Meeting, attendees were treated to the Introductory Address from Kristin Anderson of Augsburg University, and Katherine Solomonson of University of Minnesota: “Saint Paul: Last of the East, First of the West”, which helped us all to better understand the history and architecture of the region.

THURSDAY, APRIL 19th, 2018

So many great sessions and so little time! My highlights of the day included paper sessions on the themes of Burnt Clay (brick and tile) and Affordable Housing Design plus two very interesting roundtables on subjects near and dear to my heart. The first was Digital Architectural Records and Our Future moderated by Ann Whiteside(Harvard Graduate School of Design). This well-attended roundtable included librarians, archivists, architects, and architectural historians, all seeking to solve the problem of how to preserve digital architectural records. A forum earlier in the week netted concrete plans of action which will be reported upon soon. If you’d like to be involved, contact Ann Whiteside.

The other roundtable I attended on Thursday focused on Essential Skills for the Architectural Historian, moderated by Danielle S. Willkens (Auburn University), and Jonathan Kewley (Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England) and asked the question what do instructors teach to future architects? Issues of vocabulary, understanding physical surveys, mastery of archival research, critical thinking, ethics, as well as project management skills were raised, among others.

Despite a very packed schedule, I was fortunate enough to pass many impressive works of architecture on my way to and from the conference venue, including the stunning Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse (Thomas Ellerbe & Company and Holabird & Root,1932)

the charming Saint Paul Women’s City Club (Magnus Jemne, 1931)

and the Hamm Building (Toltz, King and Day, 1915), with its exquisite terracotta facade and interiors.

FRIDAY, APRIL 20th, 2018

On Friday I attended paper sessions focused on themes of Latin American Religious Architecture, Queer Spaces, and Temporal Junctures, as well as another thought-provoking Architects Council roundtable on Making, Management and Preservation of Archives. Many of the same themes as the Making, Management and Preservation of Archives roundtable came up as Bart Voorsanger, Cynthia Weese, Sandy Isenstadt, and Kenneth Frampton discussed how architects and architectural historians can contribute to this important conversation.

If you’re interested in more detailed notes on any of these roundtables, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Friday evening saw the Awards Ceremony & Kenneth Frampton’s Plenary talk at the stunning Landmark Center (Willoughby J. Edbrooke, 1902).

SATURDAY, APRIL 21st, 2018

On Saturday, I toured downtown Minneapolis, where I had the chance to see the Mississippi River as it passes through the Mill District, the Farmers & Mechanics Savings Bank (McEnary, Dale; Krafft, Edwin, 1942), Foshay Tower (Magney & Tusler, 1929), now a W Hotel, and Cedar Square West/Riverside Plaza (Ralph Rapson, 1973), among others.

Saturday evening saw the closing night event at the historic James J. Hill House (1891) where conference organizers recognized the hard work of the many volunteers who helped make this SAH conference successful.

Until next year!

 

 

Coming Soon to a Campus in Upstate New York: The Mui Ho Fine Arts Library

Martha Walker, Architecture Librarian and Coordinator of Collections
Cornell University Library

Rooftop Construction View from Oct 2018 Hardhat Tour. Photo by Susette Newberry

On a beautiful Friday afternoon in late October, a small group of Cornell University’s Fine Arts Library (CUL) staff and affiliates participated in a hard-hat tour of the emerging Mui Ho Fine Arts Library (FAL).

Rendering of the first level of the Mui Ho Fine Arts Library. © 2017 Wolfgang Tschapeller

The renovated facility, designed by Cornell alumnus Wolfgang Tschapeller, will be complete by summer 2019, with staff and materials moving back into Rand Hall before the start of the fall semester.

Construction View from Oct 2018 Hardhat Tour. Photo by Susette Newberry
Construction View from Oct 2018 Hardhat Tour. Photo by Susette Newberry

Although plans have been in the works for years, the physical renovation of the 1911 building began in fall 2017. Library staff are occupying a temporary location in a neighboring facility for the duration of the project, and all but one percent of the FAL’s holdings were shifted temporarily to off-site storage. I’ll note that it has been an interesting 18 months for both staff and patrons. It is also important to recognize what an excellent job CUL’s Library Annex and Shipping staff have done, making twice daily deliveries to the FAL’s temporary location.

Please enjoy these beautiful photographs, taken by ARLIS/NA member Susette Newberry. There will be more information on this project in various library and architecture news outlets. Here is the link to the official project website.

Colleague Update — a New Job!

Congratulations to Kai Alexis Smith, who started as the Architecture and Design Librarian at MIT in December 2018. Previously she was the Subject Librarian for the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly Pomona in Pomona, California. Kai will be presenting at ARLIS/NA in Salt Lake City with Ann Roll and Laurel Bliss on their formation of a consortial collaboration of Arts & Performing Arts librarians across 23 California State University campuses. Stop by to catch her presentation and congratulate her. In May Kai will be attending the International Architecture Librarian’s Conference in Venice, Italy. Kai looks forward to attending future conferences and getting to know more librarians in the Architecture Section.

Conference Mania!

This month’s post highlights several upcoming conferences that many of us might be interested in attending.

There are two very important conferences in late March: ARLIS/NA will be meeting in Salt Lake City and AASL will be meeting in Pittsburgh.  Unfortunately, they are meeting at almost the same time, but hopefully  many of us can take advantage of both or learn from our colleagues when we can’t.

Here’s some information of particular relevance to our architectural interests.

ARLIS/NA Conference, Salt Lake City
March 26-30

Tours of SLC architecture, Park City, Ogden, and Spiral Jetty, among others, are planned for March 26th and March 30th.

Among the sessions of particular relevance to our group are:
“You Too Can Write a Review” on Wednesday at 1:30 pm (getting the inside scoop on writing reviews for ARLIS/NA)
“Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Accessing Design Work” on Wednesday at 4:10 pm (This is a discussion session about documenting and saving student design work (physical and digital design).)
“Architecture Networks: Building Connections Between Collections” on Friday at 2 pm (highlighting several online architectural collections created by our members)

Architecture Section meeting:  Thursday 8 am
Urban Planning SIG meeting:  Thursday 8 am
Materials SIG meeting:  Thursday 12:30 pm

AASL Conference, Pittsburgh
March 28-31

Tour of Pittsburgh architecture on March 28th and 2 Frank Lloyd Wright inspired tours on March 31st.

Sessions on the 29th and 30th relating to architectural librarianship (we’ll be on the Carnegie Mellon campus on the 30th).  The conference coincides with the ACSA (Assoc of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) annual meeting.

ARCLIB Conference, Venice, Italy
May 8-10, 2019

ARCLIB (UK Architecture Librarians) are meeting with CNBA (their Italian counterparts) in Venice in May.  I’m sure they’d welcome any of us who could join them.

SAH 2019 Annual Conference, Providence, RI
April 24-28, 2019

There are sessions on architectural treatises, drawings, and copyright among other themes.

ARLIS UK & Ireland, Glasgow, Scotland
July 15-17, 2019

ARLIS UK & Ireland will be celebrating their 50th anniversary next summer in Glasgow. They just issued a call for papers. I had the good fortune to attend their conference in London last summer and found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Pop-Up Architecture Libraries

Robert Adams, Associate Director of the Library, Boston Architectural College
Dana Sly, Instruction Librarian, Boston Architectural College
Amy Trendler, Architecture Librarian, Ball State University Libraries

Why a Pop-Up Library?
The flexible content and format of the pop-up library make it adaptable to many different purposes and situations, and for the Boston Architectural College (BAC) Library and the Architecture Library at Ball State University the pop-up has proven to be a great way of reaching out to those in the schools’ practice-based studio programs. By taking the library to where students and faculty members are, the pop-up library helps reach groups that may not be regularly visiting the architecture library in its home space or making use of the library’s collections and services.

Ball State and BAC Pop-ups
(Clockwise from top photo): the Ball State University Architecture Library’s pop-up library in the building’s busy atrium; BAC students browsing the mobile library cart in their studio; BAC Librarian Robert Adams talks with a professor about the mobile library; Ball State Librarian Amy Trendler (in blue) at the Architecture Library pop-up at PARK(ing) Day 2017; BAC Librarian Dana Sly and the mobile library at the lecture on prison architecture.

Where Does the Library Pop Up?
Inspired by projects in other art and architecture libraries including a pop-up library at the Alfred R. Goldstein Library at the Ringling College of Art & Design, the summer studio mobile library at the Frances Loeb Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the in-studio reserves from the Architecture Library at the University of Maryland, the libraries at the BAC and Ball State have been popping up in studios, classrooms, busy public spaces, and special events. These have included:

  • Studios. Each semester, the BAC hosts a “studio lottery” for incoming, advanced-level architecture students. Faculty give brief presentations on the different thesis topics to be offered that semester, and students rank their top studio choices. Students are then assigned to a topic through a lottery system. Librarians attend these studio lotteries with a mobile library and make note of the various project topics offered in each studio. This gives students and faculty the opportunity to browse a portion of the library’s collection and allows the librarians to incorporate the knowledge of studio topics into collection development and information literacy strategies. Librarians and faculty also discuss how the library may support each studio and make plans for individual studio pop-ups.
  • Classrooms. The Architecture Library at Ball State popped up in an architecture seminar class where students had been tasked with finding books on their group topics to use in presentations. While students browsed the cart and the instructor spoke with students who had questions about the assignment, the librarian made an effort to talk with each group to see if they were finding what they needed on the cart or to suggest ways to find other books on their topic.
  • Busy public spaces. In the Architecture Building at Ball State, the pop-up library has been appearing in the building’s atrium during the lunch hour before the college’s studio classes start. Students and faculty members coming and going from lunch are encouraged to browse the new books or stop by to look at books selected to fit with an array of ongoing studio projects.
  • Special events. The BAC Library hosted a pop-up library during the school’s last National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accreditation visit. The NAAB visiting team members were very impressed with both the selection of items on display from the collection and the idea of the pop-up library itself. The BAC librarians also recently attended a lecture on prison design at the school. They created a hybrid pop-up library that combined both circulating collection and special collections material. This mobile library visit featured the library’s 1761 Carceri d’invenzione by Giovanni Battista Piranesi displayed on the top tier of the cart, with circulating material on the shelves below.

What Makes the Pop-up Library Work?
Pop-up or mobile libraries are customizable to suit the needs of a particular situation or event. There are, however, a few general guidelines that we follow in order to make the mobile libraries functional.

  • Selection. First, we compile a list of relevant titles suited to the subject, audience, and desired purpose of the pop-up event in question. The subjects and audiences will, of course, vary each time the mobile library is assembled. For instance, book lists compiled for class visits at the BAC often feature duplicates of titles placed on reserve for that class and additional items relevant to that class’s theme or focus. Many courses in the design field are organized around several case studies – and so, when pulling materials for the mobile cart, we aim to collect information relevant to those specific projects.
  • Collaboration. The pop-up library can be an opportunity to collaborate with instructors and students. Meeting or corresponding with an instructor or affiliate group (such as student government) before bringing a mobile library to the classroom allows for both library and faculty to request and recommend materials that suit the interests and projects of students. In addition to incorporating titles requested by faculty, this collaboration also provides librarians with the opportunity to recommend materials that might not be on the instructor or affiliate group’s radar. At the BAC, several times a faculty member has also checked out a book from the mobile cart and remarked on the scope of the cart’s (and the library’s) collection of compiled resources.
  • Checkout. Once items are selected for the cart, they are checked out to an administrative library account. This may be a user account specifically designed for the pop-up, or it may be the individual account of the librarian (or librarians) conducting the pop-up. By charging each item out to the librarian, it marks the materials as unavailable to those who may be in the library at the time of the pop-up, and makes note of the book’s use for circulation statistics.
  • Display and transportation. Items are then arranged on a rolling library cart in an attractive display. A visually appealing display is one that draws attention to the cart, is lush enough to encourage browsing, but one that is not overcrowded or overwhelming. Depending on the scenario, you may wish to select between a one- or two-sided cart. A two-sided cart allows for students to circulate the entire cart and maximizes the number of students who may use the cart at once. If periodicals or narrower, less structured materials are featured on the cart, however, a one-sided cart may be more appropriate and provide more stability. At Ball State, the library has acquired two tall AV carts that can display many books or magazines on book easels.
    Carts for Pop-ups
    (Clockwise from top right): Mobile library on architecture and the Olympics for a studio at the BAC; BAC Library pop-up for a guest lecture on prison architecture; Ball State Architecture Library pop-up for a studio on housing in a small Midwestern city.

    *   It is important to consider the intent of a pop-up in the design of your cart. When planning a mobile library for a public area, such as the Ball State Architecture Library’s biweekly atrium pop-ups, a table or several carts allow for a more spread out display. It may be also important to visit the space ahead of time. Visualizing how the pop-up will occupy the space will help determine the size of your display and the number of carts or tables.
    *   It may be that your library pop-up is occurring in a separate building, or in a space that requires the cart to travel a farther distance than a simple ride on the elevator or stroll down the hall. In these cases, you may wish to pack your books and display material and assemble the cart on site for safety and ease of transit. A cart with sturdy wheels is a must when moving between buildings. Never turn down an extra set of hands to help navigate obstacles with the cart!

  • Mobile checkout. Finally, a pop-up library needs some method of checking materials out to patrons. If technology permits, some may like to include a laptop loaded with your ILS software and a mobile scanner. However, a simple notepad and pen will suffice. When patrons wish to check out an item, the librarian makes note of their library barcode number and the barcodes of the materials they wish to check out.
  • After the pop-up. Once the library cart returns to the library, items are charged to the patrons who checked out materials during the pop-up. Then, any remaining material is discharged and the library account double-checked to make sure that all materials have been accounted for.
  • Giveaways. For the Ball State Architecture Library’s pop-ups in the atrium at lunch time, the primary goal is outreach and visibility. In addition to providing a selection of books for checkout, the pop-up often features giveaways ranging from the Architecture Library’s coloring bookmarks (with library hours and contact information on the back) or candy to university library-branded water bottles and pens. Mobile libraries at the Boston Architectural College have featured giveaways of a different sort. After noting that periodical circulation had significantly decreased, the librarians brought a selection of free, duplicate copies of library periodicals down to the ground floor of the main building during a new student welcome week event. These duplicates were given away to students for free while the librarians spoke with students about the library’s periodical collections available for use.

Where Will the Library Pop Up Next?
The flexible content and format of the pop-up library make it adaptable to many different purposes and situations, and the librarians at the BAC and the Architecture Library at Ball State have plans for more pop-ups that capitalize on variations in timing, location, or collaborations.

  • In terms of timing, special events such as guest lectures, welcome week, and finals week all lend themselves to different kinds of pop-ups focused on a subject, new or interesting materials, and stress-relievers or last-minute project needs. The Architecture Library at Ball State already has plans for a pop-up library at finals time that will feature various relaxing activities such as flipping through a design magazine and time-saving items available for checkout such as phone chargers and flash drives.
  • Locations elsewhere in the building or across campus offer another kind of opportunity. In the six-story BAC building the elevator bank is the perfect location for a mobile library that will take advantage of students’ and faculty members’ wait times and turn it into library material browsing time.
  • Collaborations are planned with academic departments at the BAC and with student organizations at both schools. The BAC librarians plan to bring the mobile library to the college’s biweekly departmental curriculum meetings. This will allow the librarians to showcase new and relevant books to deans and faculty. They also plan to bring new books to the college’s monthly All Staff meeting in order to reach out to employees outside the education department, who may not realize that the library supports them as well. Pop-ups coordinated with student groups’ events such as PARK(ing) Day and student organizations’ fundraiser sales are in the works at both libraries.

Finally, pop-up libraries are due to pop up in assessment, although we are still working out the details on what this will look like. In our experience, the value of the pop-up goes beyond strictly quantifiable numbers such as the items checked out, and it doesn’t fall neatly into the kinds of statistics kept at a reference desk. Anecdotally, instructors at the BAC have reported that students have gotten better grades on their projects after a visit from the mobile library. The trick is to capture such observations in a meaningful way. Ideally, we can demonstrate through assessment what we have observed in practice. Namely that the pop-up or mobile library is a successful outreach tool for architecture libraries.

A Visit to London: Attending ARLIS UK & Ireland

Rebecca Price
Architecture, Urban Planning & Visual Resources Librarian, University of Michigan

Thames View
River Thames View

It is with great delight that I report on my recent trip to London, England. I feel fortunate to have been able both to attend the ARLIS UK & Ireland conference and to extend my stay so that I could visit a number of architecture and design libraries.

Though marked by uncharacteristically sweltering heat and dry weather, my visit was tremendously productive and meaningful in that I visited several architecture libraries and talked with their librarians. I am very grateful to support from the Kress Foundation as well as supplemental professional development funds from the University of Michigan Library making the trip possible.

Digital Fabrication at The Building Centre

The conference (July 26-27) offered two full days of programming and a day of tours of selected London libraries. I found the presentations interesting, inspiring, and highly relevant to my work. Some personal favorites were a session on the use of Special Collections to support creativity and critical thinking in the studio as well as the classroom. It was a lesson in using eccentric objects and deliberately odd experiences to provide the unexpected for students. In addition, there were several presentations on artist’s books and their value in highlighting current issues and social themes, as well as in providing meaningful hands-on learning experiences. I presented on the use and value of materials collections and happily heard several other papers offering new perspectives and experiences related to materials collections.

Materials at Central St. Martin’s, London

Four keynote speakers spoke over the two days.  With keen insight and humor, they brought new points of view challenging our norms of practice and thought. They each spoke to broader issues of librarianship, particularly in arts or special libraries. Each one challenged us to reconsider our definitions of the typical librarian, the typical library user, and the typical library. I was particularly impressed by how their words asked us to think about how our teaching methodologies and collection practices can lead to silences and excluded voices.

On the Saturday after the sessions, the organizers offered an optional tour day. I participated in two museum library tours; the National Gallery Library and the Tate Britain Library. It was truly special to be able to walk through their library collections and archives in spaces that only their library and curatorial staff can access. Particularly fascinating in the Tate Britain Archives was a model ship used by Turner in many of his seascapes and depictions of sea battles.  Everyone was exceedingly generous with their time and knowledge.

Turner’s Ship Model, Tate Britain
Turner Seascape, Tate Britain

 

 

 

 

 

 

A high point of the trip was being able to take the time to visit six art/architecture libraries. I pre-arranged meetings with each of the art and architecture librarians. Highlights were touring collections and spaces, and talking with librarians and staff at the Architectural Association, the Bartlett at University College London, the Royal College of Art, Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design, Ravensbourne University, and RIBA.

RIBA Collections, London

They graciously took the time to meet with me and talk about their libraries. It was especially inspiring to learn from them, to see their collections, and to discover the challenges that we share and those that are different.

The biggest take-away for me was realizing the surprising similarities in the work of the arts librarian in the UK and the arts librarian in North America.

Interactive Visitor Art, Tate Modern, London

In addition, I visited a few materials collections, twelve museums, and two historic houses.  I chose to visit several museums focused on art and design (The Design Museum, The Fashion and Textile Museum, The Tate Modern and Tate Britain, The V&A, The National Gallery, Sir John Soane’s Museum) and some focused more on the social history of the city (The Museum of London, The Museum of London Docklands, The Transport Museum, The Foundling Museum, and The Tower of London).

Design Museum London, Words

And there were the fun hours walking through the neighborhoods and parks of London.

Attending the ARLIS UK & Ireland conference gave me the opportunity to talk with and hear from numerous international colleagues and to gain a much deeper understanding of their work. If any of you are given the opportunity to attend in the future, I highly recommend it. And as librarians visit us from other countries, I hope that we open our collections to them as generously as was done for me.

Digitizing the F. Blair Reeves Papers

Jessica Aberle
Architecture and Fine Arts Library, University of Florida

PIN Sign
PIN (Preservation Institute Nantucket), Univ of Florida

In the spring of 2017, Professor Morris Hylton III, the Program Director for Historic Preservation at the University of Florida, approached the George A. Smathers Libraries with a proposal to digitize material related to the Preservation Institute Nantucket(PIN), which will celebrate its fiftieth year in 2022.  PIN was founded in 1972 by F. Blair Reeves, a faculty member in the School of Architecture at the University of Florida, in partnership with Walter Beinecke, Jr.

The F. Blair Reeves Papers in the Architecture Archives include correspondence, grant proposals, course material, and photographs that all document the foundation, history, and culture of the early years of PIN. In order to make this material accessible through digitization, we applied to the Strategic Opportunities Grant Program (SOP), which is internally funded by the Smathers Libraries. Through this program, the team (which included faculty and staff from the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections, Preservation, and Digital Production Services) was able to secure funds to digitize roughly 6,000 pages from the F. Blair Reeves Papers and to document related PIN material held in other collections and sometimes, offices.

Nantucket, Oldest House
Oldest House, Nantucket, 1686

During July of 2017, I traveled to Nantucket (escaping the Florida heat for a few days) to visit the Research Library of the Nantucket Historical Association(NHA) and the PIN Studios. The NHA is one of the official repositories for PIN material which includes the PIN Archives, student reports, and Historic Structure Reports. I took a rough estimate of the materials that had accumulated in the PIN Studio in Sherburne Hall over the years. This material included student reports, exhibit material, posters, program files, working drawings, and the wooden signs that the students created every summer for the PIN studio. I was only able to document the various formats and take a rough estimate of the quantity of material during my brief visit. Full documentation will have to await the transfer of materials to the Architecture Archives at the University of Florida. Whenever the PIN Studio and the Research Library was closed, I took the opportunity to see as much of Nantucket as possible!

Nantucket Old Mill
Old Mill, Nantucket, 1746

In the fall of 2017 Digital Production Services began digitizing the materials selected from F. Blair Reeves Papers. In the end, they scanned 6,315 pages of material and digitized several audio files. The grant also allowed us to fund a graduate student research assistant who documented the materials that had accumulated in the current PIN offices at the University of Florida. Our research assistant worked both fall and spring semesters to organize and document twelve boxes of archival material that were transferred to the Architecture Archives this past spring. He documented the dates, significant people associated with the materials, format, quantity, and a brief description, which will aid in the creation of a finding aid for the collection. I was also able to identify additional collections here at UF that contain PIN material including oral histories and student work.

The project funded by the SOP grant is just now wrapping up. Our priority moving forward is to continue to digitize PIN material locally from some of the newly identified collections.

For those interested in PIN, you can learn about its early history through the F. Blair Reeves Papers. The digitized material is available in the University of Florida Digital Collections: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/pin. We will continue to add material over the next few weeks, so please do check back. If you would like to know more about either PIN or the newly launched Preservation Institute St. Augustine (PISA), information can be found on the website for the Historic Preservation Program in the College of Design, Construction, and Planning at the University of Florida.