Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Festive Librarians

In preparation of our upcoming event Hollywood Librarian II and to add some festive cheer, let's discuss the representation and commodification of librarians during the Christmas holidays!

Due to low staffing, a librarian must spend her Christmas Eve stacking the shelves at a library in desperate need of renovations. After the strain of a long night that has left her feeling "like Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol," she is pleasantly surprised to see Santa and his elves coming to her rescue in a red bookmobile. Santa helps out by signing Newbery winners and starred Caldecotts and then reads to the children. His elves, eager to help, stock the library shelves with Hawthorne, Steinbeck, Millay, and Hemingway and then replace the rugs, fix leaks, and organize gifts according to the Dewey decimal system. After paying overdue library fines, Santa tells everyone, "Do one more good deed. Have a real merry Christmas--teach someone to read!"

It's an etremely twee and whimsical look at libraries that somehow manages to address everyday library issues such as budget cuts and low staffing. While children's books can't be expected to explore the gritty realities of the library and information profession, it's positive to see the importance of a library recognised by even Santa himself.

On a less positive and festive note there is always the classic scene from It's A Wonderful Life (Dir. Frank Capra, 1946)

In this Christmas classic George discovers the tragic news that had he never been born, his wife Mary would have ended up an old maid; she would have become a librarian. The shock of this tragic news is almost too much for poor George, after all, librarianship must be some sort of punishment for those who never marry.

And Christmas just wouldn't be christmas without a little bit of commodification. In case you are stuck for ideas of gifts to please a librarian during the holidays then here's some librarian gifts. My personal favourite is the home librarian kit, perfect for those who are strict with lending their own personal books.

From librarians who are so under-staffed they rely on Santa to help them organise their collections, to lonely 'old maid' librarians, to librarians that can't separate their work from their home life - Happy Holidays and see you at Hollywood Librarian II March 2010.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Hollywood Librarian II: The Sequel

We are pleased to announce that the Stuart Hall Library will be hosting our second Hollywood Librarian event Monday 1st March 2010.

Continuing the themes of stereotypes and professional idenities we are inviting librarians from all sectors to join us for a day of discussions and film screenings in the Stuart Hall Library. While dispelling the myths and preconceptions of the roles of librarians and libraries, we will focus on specific examples of libraries that engage with new approaches to promoting their services.

More information about the day will be posted soon with full details of the the schedule as well as information on how to book a place.

To get the conversation started take a look at this 10 min film comissioned by JISC which looks at the future of academic libraries.

Ignore the fact that the video heavily promotes JISC services; the film raises some contentious claims in regards to the future of academic libraries. Nobody is denying that academic libraries are changing at a rapid pace, but some of the opinions raised in this piece are questionnable. Are we really that threatened by google? Are librarians incapable of engaging and interacting with the internet and e-resources? Is the world of printed material dead?No of course not, and I'm sure many of us tire from contending these arguments both personally and professionally. And what about the physical library space? How is the library space being used and transformed, and how does this affect the perception of librarians?

We will take a look at these misconceptions in relation to further examples of librarians in all aspects of popular culture. At the last Hollywood Librarian event we indentified certain stereotypes; Hollywood Librarian II gives us another opportunity to look at how the library and informatian profession is represented in cinema, as well as identifying new examples of the changing librarian.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Evaluating a collection of practice.

The Stuart Hall Library recently hosted the engage event A Collection of Practice. The event posed the question - does a canon of gallery education resources exist? The event was chaired by Veronica Sekules, Head of Education and Research at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia; with guest speakers Paul Dash(Head of Teachers as Artists programme, Goldsmiths, University of London) and Yara El-Sherbini (Artist)

Guest speakers and attendees were asked to consider the following points:

  • Are there key books and resources that have informed or developed the practice of gallery education and visual arts learning?

  • How are books chosen for reading lists for academic courses?

  • How relevant are the texts to practice in gallery learning?

The guest speakers presented their work in the context of research, citing various texts and key resources that have influenced their practice. Both Paul Dash and Yara El-Sherbini were extremely complimentary of the Iniva library resource, and Yara directly referenced materials from the library collection.Nobody was denying the influence that research has on artistic practice and in the work of gallery education; it's how this list of resources can be collected and shared that is the most interesting aspect.

Veronica Sekules leading group discussions.

Paul Dash presentation

Yara El-Sherbini presentation

As the librarian in charge of managing the engage collection in the library this was a fascinating opportunity to explore gallery educators' and artists' suggested key texts and resources, some of which can be found in the engage resource and Iniva collections, and some which are located further afield.

Recently I have put together a suggested reading list of materials available from the engage resource and also the Stuart Hall Library collection, in support of the engage conference, focusing on gallery education and regeneration. The library is also responsible for creating a number of reading lists throughout the year in support of Iniva's own work and exhibitions. In creating these reading lists, my own background in the arts and cultural theory as well familiarity of the library's collection enables me to construct relevant reading lists. But what about a subject I have no background in? Did I feel qualified to construct a reading list in relation to gallery education and regeneration?

The bibliography I created in support of the recent engage conference provided a series of key texts focusing not only on education and regeneration, but also on cultural diversity and international case studies based on materials belonging to the Stuart Hall Library collection. This was not an enage reading list, this was not even a bibliography for arts and regeneration, but was an Iniva reading list produced around the themes of the engage conference and provided context for the engage resource within the library collection.

One of the things the library is interested in is ways of interacting with library users through our reading lists. How useful is a list of suggested material? As librarians what is our selection process? How will someone else find this list useful? A Collection of Practice allowed us to assess our own practice of compiling reading lists. We have already begun to create annotated reading lists providing comments and descriptions of the suggested texts. However this particular event opened up the possiblities further.

For the first time the library utilised our blog to create an online interactive reading list in this post inviting engage members, librarians, artists, academics, library users, and the general public to suggest key resources that have inspired gallery education. We were very keen not to specify just 'books' which is what most people think of when contributing to a reading list; in fact the term reading list can often be problematic placing focus on printed material only. We wanted suggestions encompassing books, articles, journals, films, websites, people, case studies, reports, institutions, workshops - anything! In the weeks leading up to this event we collected not just a list of key materials, but often accompanying annotated notes describing the material and highlighting it's place in gallery education.

From the discussions that took place during A Collection of Practice it was understood that reading lists have the ability to be flexible and interactive in order to benefit as many people as possible. Several attendees made the comparison to the 'recommended reads' signs which appear in bookstores, in which materials are selected by staff with a brief summary and a review of the material. Others made the suggestion for more flexible library catalogue systems which mirror the structure of online webstores in which materials are recommended for the user based on previous searches.

At the moment the reading list created via the blog, email, and suggestions in person, features a diverse range of disciplines and formats. Where possible we have attempted to annotate each item with the orignal notes as they were suggested.We have also included where possible the name of the person recommending the material as this was suggested a useful tool by engage members. The reading list should not be treated as a finished document; we will continue to accept suggestions and will continue to update the reading list. Please leave feedback in the comments section of this blog post as well as forwarding suggestions for anything which you consider a key resource to

  • Abdalla, G. (2003) A Review of the Status of Paelistinian Refugees in Lebanon. Palestine: Palestinian Human Rights Organisation.(Recommended by Reem Charif)

  • Althusser, B. et al. (2009) A Manual for the 21st Century Art Institution. London: Whitechapel. 'Published to mark the reopening of the Whitechapel Gallery in 2009 and told in the format of a guided tour around the different areas of the building.' (Recommended by Laura Cherry)

  • Althusser, L. (1971) Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. London: New Left Books. (Recommended by Reem Charif)

  • Anderson, D. (1999) A Common Wealth: Museums in the Learning Age. London: DCMS. 'A report written by David Anderson, perhaps now a little out of date but the passion and committment still oozes from his words, has also been hugely influential.' (Recommended by Amanda P.)

  • Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin (Recommended by Sue Clive)

  • Barr, J. (1999) Liberating Knowledge: Research, Feminism and Adult Education. Leicester: NIACE. (Recommended by Clare)

  • Barthes, R. (1972) Rhetoric of the Image in Barthes, R. Mythologies. London:Cape (Recommended by Amanda P.)

  • Benjamin, W. (1992) Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction in Benjamin, W. Illuminations. London: Fontana. 'Of great importance to me and how I work are two essays from the canon of postmodern theory which I share in case they are of interest to anyone else. (Recommended by Amanda P.)

  • Bennett, T. (1995) The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics. London: Routledge (Recommended by Kaija)

  • Bourdieu, P. (1969) The Love of Art: European Art Museums and Their Public. Cambridge: Polity Press

  • Bourdieu,P. (1979) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. London: Routledge. 'Both critique the idea that certain audiences have an innate ability to 'read', appreciate, or enjoy art, while for many it is seen as an exclusive and inaccessible world. Rather, this sense of 'taste' or 'cultural capital' has more to do with social class, background, education and therefore is not innate but can and should be made available for all to enjoy.' (Recommended by Simon)

  • Bourriaud, N. (1998) Relational Aesthetics. France: Les Presse Du Reel. (Recommended by Yara El-Sherbini)

  • Chora & Bunschoten, R. (2000) Urban Flotsam. Rotterdam:010 Publishers (Recommended by Reem Charif)

    • Cultural Policy Collective. (2004) Beyond Social Inclusion: Towards Cultural Democracy. London: The Cultural Policy Collective. 'A comprehensive and timely dismantling of New Labour's social inclusion agenda which confirmed much misgivings in the gallery education sector and voiced the need for less instrumentalisation and control of the sector.' (Recommended by Johnny)

    • Dickson, M. (1995) Art With People. London: AN Publications. 'A survey of the art and ideas of the eighties in the community arts and early gallery education sector, which I found important to give a grounding to some basic principles of engagement.' (Recommended by Johnny)

    • Dickson, M. (1990) David Harding in The Variant, No 8. pp.41-48. 'A second influence is David Harding's tenure as 'Town Artist' in Glenrothes from 1969 to 1979 where he formed part of the planning team. David then went on to establish the Environmental Art Course at Glasgow School of Art, whose philosophical cornerstone was 'Context is half the work.' - borrowed from APG and used to a great degree in the fine work of the department right up until the late 90s.' (Recommended by Malcolm Dickson)

    • Duncan, C. (1995) Civilizing Rituals: Inside Public Art Museums. London:Routledge. (Recommended by Kaija)

    • Education at Cooper-Hewitt. Available at [online] 'Quite early on, about 1979 or 1980 - I attended a Museum and Gallery Conference in Melbourne, Australia. One of the workshops was led by Eileen who had created a brilliant and inspiring education programme at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York. This was radical stuff! Her thoughts, her practice, her experiments, her enthusiasm, extended my horizons and showed me what could be.' (Recommended by Moria Johnson.)

    • Egashira, S. (2006) Before Object, After Image: Koshirakura Landscape 1996-2006. London: AA Publications. (Recommended by Reem Charif)

    • Ewald, W & Lightfoot, A. (2002) I Wanna Take Me a Picture: Teaching Photography and Writing to Children. East Sussex: Beacon Press. 'It isn't specifically about education in galleries but relates to ways of helping grow children and young people's visual and written literacies by focusing on representing themselves and their worlds.' (Recommended by Janice McLaren)

    • Friere,P. (1968) Pedagogy of the Opressed. 2nd rev. ed. London: Continuum. (Recommended by Emily Pringle)

    • Hooks, B. (1994) Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. London: Routledge. (Recommended by Kaija)

    • Hylton,R. (2007) The Nature of the Beast: Cultural Diversity and the Visual Arts Sector. A Study of the Policies, Initiatives and Attitudes 1976-2006. Bath:ICIA 'This book provides and analysis of cultural diversity policies in the visual arts within the publically funded sector.' (Maxine Miller)

    • Jacir, E. (2001) Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages Which Were Destroyed, Depopulated and Occupied by Israel in 1948. Refugee tent and embroidery thread, 138"x115"x96" Contemporary Art Center Studio Exhibition, NYC. (Recommended by Yara El-Sherbini)

    • Jacir, E. (2001) Where We Come From. Mixed media, 30 framed texts, 32 photos. Anthony Reynolds Gallery. (Recommended by Yara El-Sherbini)

    • Kaprow,A. (1993) Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life. California: University of California Press. (Recommended by Emily Pringle)

    • Kelly, O. (1984) Community, Art and the State: Storming the Citadels. London: Comedia. 'I'd like to contribute my favourite book on the subject . It very eloquently argued the case for cultural democracy as distinct from the democratisation of culture, and this remains a compelling debate which is still pertinent, as many of the comments at the the recent engage conference indicate.' (Recommended by Malcolm Dickson and Emily Pringle)

    • Kester,G. (2005) Conversation Pieces:The Role of Dialogue in Socially-Engaged Art In Kocur, Z. & Leung, S. Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985. London:Blackwell. (Recommended by Yara El-Sherbini)

    • Kwon, M. (2004) One Place After Another: Site Specific Art and Locational Identity. MIT Press. (Recommended by Yara El-Sherbini)

    • Lacy, S. (1994) Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art. Bay Press. (Recommended by Yara El-Sherbini)

    • Lacy,S. (1993) Oakland Projects: The Roof is on Fire. Live art, Oakland, California. (Recommended by Yara El-Sherbini)

    • Lefaivre, L & Doll. (2007) Ground-Up City. Play as a Design Tool. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers. (Recommended by Reem Charif)

    • Lefaivre,L et al. (2002) Aldo Van Eyck: The Playgrounds and the City in The Architectural Review Oct 1. (Recommended by Reem Charif)

    • Luckett, H. (1982) Through Children's Eyes: A Fresh Look at Contemporary Art. London: Arts Council of Great Britain. (Recommended by Sue Clive)

    • Mörsch,C. (2009) Documenta 12 Education 2: Between Critical Practice and Visitor Services. Results of a Research Project. Berlin: Diaphanes. 'This first volume gives and insight into education formats and models used at the Documenta 12 and the second volume focuses on methods and contexts, and reflects theoretically on the given examples. The books provide an excellent basis for practitioners and academia and encourage a critical reflection of dominant approaches.' (Recommended by Anna)

    • Norman, N. (2003) An Architecture of Play; A Survey of London's Adventure Playgrounds. London: Four Corners Books. (Recommended by Reem Charif)

    • O'Donaghue, H. (2006) Access All Areas. Dublin: IMMA

    • Tanner, R. (1987) Double Harness: An Autobiography. London:Impact Books. 'Tanner's text 'Learning and the Arts' has always been my inspiration, it works for adults too:"...every boy and girl I taught was unique, with gifts and graces peculiarly their was my privelege to create a setting or environment or, one might almost say, a climate in which these startling powers could emerge and flourish."(Recommended by Cleo)

    • Sedgwick, F. (2002) Enabling Children's Learning Through Drawing. London: David Fulton. (Recommended by Reem Charif)

    • Sharp, C & Dust, K. (1990) Artists in Schools: A Handbook for Artists and Teachers. Slough: NFER (Recommended by Emily Pringle)

    • Shaw, J. & Robertson, C. (1997) Participatory Video: A Practical Guide to Using Video Creatively in Group Development Work. London:Routledge. (Recommended by Reem Charif)

    • Warner, M.(1993) Richard Wentworth. London: Thames &Hudson. (Recommended by Reem Charif)

    • Wieczorek, W. (2009) Documenta 12 Education 12 Education 1: Engaging Audiences, Opening Institutions. Methods and Strategies in Gallery Education at Documentat 12. Berlin: Diaphenes. 'The first volume gives an insight into education formats and models used at the Documenta 12. The books provide an excellent basis for practitioners and academia and encourage a critical reflection of dominant approaches. (Recommended by Anna)

    • Zureik, E. (1996) Palestinian Refugees and the Peace Process. Washington DC: Institute for Palestine Studies.