Tag Archives: exhibits

Visualizing an Invisible Machine

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View of the current exhibit on the digital library

For our current exhibit, What’s Past is Pixels, we faced a challenge. How do we represent our digital library in a physical space? To some extent, we could easily do so with pulling the physical objects we’ve digitized and talk about the challenges and decisions we made when translating them online. We could visualize the metadata created, highlight digital representations through screens and screenshots. What I could not wrap my head around, and what of course was on my list to figure out, was representing what the digital library was in some visual form…

As an exhibit planning group, we decided on the words representing the main functions of the digital library: discovery, scholarship and engagement. We also as a group decided on the raw ingredients that made those functions go: materials, community and system. My colleague working on the visualization with me originally suggested some sort of web visual, which would show the interconnectedness of the ingredients and functions. However, while that solved one problem (showing how the digital library works), it didn’t quite show how it worked in the bigger context of DigiNole, the platform that also held the Research Repository.

I kept playing around with the idea of engines, which eventually led me to the final graphic of cogs and functionality as the motion moving the cogs. The digital library was only one engine of DigiNole so the Research Repository could be represented as a part of the greater machine in which the digital library moved. From there, I assigned each ingredient to a cog of the machine and then named the movements after the different functionality we wanted to highlight. It was clean, simple and did its job in illustrating a highly conceptual idea in a straightforward manner for the exhibit without lots of text and using vocabulary that our intended audience (non-librarians) wouldn’t understand. Hopefully it succeeded!

The finished visual to explain how the digital library works
The finished visual to explain how the digital library works

What’s Past is Pixels: Developing the FSU Digital Library is located in the Strozier Library Exhibit Room and is open 10am to 6pm, Monday through Thursday, 10am to 5:30pm Friday. It will be held until April 8, 2016.

What’s Past is Pixels, a new exhibit at Strozier Library

As a digital archivist, when I’m working with exhibits, they are usually of the digital variety. However, when we wanted to make a splash for the launch of DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository which combines the digital library with the research repository, we knew we needed to do something a bit bold, a bit crazy and very impressive.

What's Past is Pixels

What’s Past is Pixels: Developing the FSU Digital Library is an exhibit opening today about our work on the digital library. Perhaps our introduction to the exhibit says it best:

For over 10 years Florida State University Libraries has hosted a digital library in some form or another. In that time technology has evolved, changing how we can interact with physical objects in a digital space. The FSU Digital Library continues to evolve as well.

Today, the Florida State University Digital Library, under DigiNole, our new digital platform, provides online access to thousands of unique manuscripts, photographs, pamphlets, rare books, historic maps and other materials from across the FSU campus libraries and beyond. Our goal is to support active learning and engagement by providing ample opportunities for discovery and scholarship. In order to achieve this goal new resources and projects are constantly being added to the digital library.

The exhibit takes you through the process of materials being selected, digitized, and described before they find their way into DigiNole. It then explores the new uses for materials that can occur in the digital environment and what the future may hold for the development of DigiNole over time.

We’re having some Opening Day festivities today for the new exhibit. A Coffee Talk at 10am, Cake (!) from 12-1pm and then a Closing Reception from 3-4pm. Also throughout the day, there will be demonstrations of DigiNole and what you can find and do with our materials.

What’s Past is Pixels: Developing the FSU Digital Library is located in the Strozier Library Exhibit Room and is open 10am to 4pm, Monday through Friday. It will be held from February 29 until April 8, 2016.

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Mittan: A Retrospective

Mittan: A Retrospective is the photographic exhibit currently on display in the Special Collections and Archives gallery space in Strozier Library. The works of J. Barry Mittan candidly capture the student experience at Florida State University in the 1960s and 1970s. As a student and photographer for numerous campus publications, including the Tally-Ho yearbook and Florida Flambeau newspaper, Mittan often photographed students at official university-sponsored events and spontaneous student gatherings alike. Through his documentation of sporting events, Greek life, protests, concerts, study sessions, socials, and so on, he was able to construct a comprehensive view of FSU student life in which individuals banded together to share a common voice in an age of social change. Mittan’s unique perspective as a student informed his photographic purpose to see the individuals among the crowd.

For my first project as the Special Collections & Archives Graduate Assistant, I was tasked with designing and installing the Mittan exhibit. Faced with a daunting job of going through twenty-something boxes of unprocessed photographic materials, I was thrown head first into this new position. But having a background in art history and previous experience processing archival collections, I was up for the work. After an initial assessment, I determined that there was some order already established as slides, negatives, and prints were generally arranged by time period and subject. Because of this order, it was pretty easy determining what boxes would be useful for the exhibit knowing that we wanted to focus on Mittan’s work from when he was a student.

The most time consuming, yet entertaining, part of the design process was physically pulling negative strips out of sleeves and examining them through a magnifying glass over a light table. Although I’ve never worked with photography before, I eventually adapted to looking at the thousand or so tiny negative images. Having a pretty good eye for composition, my skills were tested when I digitally scanned the negative strips to determine the clarity and balance of the image. Having scanned about a hundred and fifty images, I eventually narrowed my choices down to thirty black and white images and twenty color images for the final exhibit.

The last tasks were just hard labor: printing, framing, and installing. I severely underestimated the stress of installing an exhibit seeing as this was my first experience. Using a large format professional printer was definitely a skill I acquired with a serious learning curve. I regret the loss of paper and ink that was sacrificed as we printed test strip after test strip trying to configure the color, size, and saturation of the first batch of prints. And I will never again underestimate the brutality of the small metal brackets holding the backboard of the frame as thirty sets of them pinched and bruised my fingers over the course of an afternoon.

After what seemed like a mad dash to the finish line, the exhibit actually opened fairly smoothly and nearly on time. Every day I’m proud of my hard work as I walk to Special Collections in the back of the library and am greeted by a poster that advertises the accomplishments and legacy of J. Barry Mittan. It makes me realize that what we do as college students has the potential to make a difference for the years to come. As a student in a time of social, cultural, and political change, Mittan captured the power of the individual to enact change. A sentiment college students still strongly hold on to today.

Mittan: A Retrospective, the photographic exhibit showcasing the work of J. Barry Mittan, is open in Strozier Library’s first floor exhibit space. The exhibit will be on display until mid-January and is open to the public Monday through Thursday, 10am to 6pm, and Friday, 10am to 5:30pm. An accompanying online exhibit is also available here which includes more images and descriptions not available in person.

Florida High

Demonstration School
Demonstration School

We are happy to announce that a new exhibit is on display in the Norwood Reading Room on the history of the Florida State University Schools, also known as Florida High.

In 1851 the Florida Legislature voted to establish two institutes of higher learning: the East and West Florida Seminary. The Legislature required the cities which would receive state funding for these seminaries to provide the infrastructure and startup money. In order to compete for the West Florida Seminary, Tallahassee built a school. Finished in 1855 and located near the present day Westcott building, the school was commonly known as the Florida Institute.

HPUA Student Assistant, Colin Behrens, works on installing exhibit
HPUA Student Assistant, Colin Behrens, works on installing exhibit

The Florida Institute was the earliest incarnation of Florida High. The Florida Institute educated both college and high school aged students. Since the Florida Institute became the West Florida Seminary in 1857, Florida High has been an integral part to the history of FSU.

In 1954 the high school department got its own building on campus, designated as the Florida State University School (FSUS or Florida High). Despite the moniker “Florida High,” FSUS was created to be a school for grade levels K-12. FSCW and FSU students in the Education program interned at Florida High until Florida High left the campus in 2001.

In an effort to make learning fun, the teachers would often assign creative projects. The students created newsletters and journals for their various clubs and classes. Florida High also had its own yearbooks: The Flahisco, which was published in the 1940’s, and the Demon’s Flame, which was published in the 50’s and 60’s.

In 2001, Florida High left the main FSU campus and moved to its own campus. Despite its change of location, Florida High maintains its close connection with FSU. Research performed by FSU faculty and graduate students largely takes place at FSUS. Research is a constant presence at FSUS, and important findings have been found in the fields of Literacy Acquisition and Mathematical Pedagogy.

Florida High jacket and pennant
Florida High jacket and pennant

The Florida High Exhibit can be viewed Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm in the Norwood Reading Room, located on the second floor of Strozier Library.

Colin Behrens is a student assistant in the Heritage Protocol & University Archives. He is currently working on a BA in Classics.

From Chaos to Order: Working with a class to create an exhibit

Posting on behalf of Katie McCormick, Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives:

The Special Collections Research Center has an ongoing collaboration with the Museum Studies program at FSU. The Museum Object course teaches students the fundamentals of museum exhibit creation and installation. In our collaboration, students from the class are given a broad topic and guidance towards collection areas and create an exhibit from our materials. At the end of the semester they install the physical exhibit, most often in our primary exhibit room, and create an online companion exhibit.

Students begin the course with little to no knowledge of our collections and little to no experience creating exhibits. They end the course having worked through all the stages of exhibit design and installation and walk away with a new, important understanding of process and our materials.

Students work through materials to include int he exhibit.
Students work through materials to include in the exhibit.

Over the 2014 fall semester, 8 students from Amy Bowen’s Museum Object class did research on the Battle of Natural Bridge, a Civil War battle in March 1865 that FSU cadets participating in. Students were asked to find and research materials and create an exhibit that highlighted the battle itself, as well has broader themes of community, campus, veterans, and then and now.

Myself and staff from the Research Center, Digital Library Center, and Heritage Protocol worked with the students to teach them about our collections, to help them connect with the State Archives and other campus entities, to digitize and help produce the materials to be put on exhibit, and to work side by side with them during installation.

Installation Day for the exhibit
Installation Day for the exhibit
Installation Day for the exhibit
As you can see, chaotic it can be!

The magic, and immense value, of this kind of partnership is the laboratory nature of the project and the hands on engagement we can provide students. There are times when it is chaotic, when you don’t know what the end product will be, when you’re not sure there will be an end product, when communication appears to have broken down, and when the students make a last minute, last ditch effort to pull together all the parts of something totally new for them. I am always amazed by what the students see in our collections and how they chose to publicly interpret materials and events.

The Battle of Natural Bridge: Bridging Past and Present is free and open to the public Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm in the main exhibit gallery on the first floor of Strozier Library. The online exhibit can be viewed here: http://naturalbridge150.omeka.net/

A look at the finished exhibit
From chaos, comes an ordered story
The finished exhibit
The finished exhibit

“That I May Remember” Online Exhibit

"October 27, 1917," Marion Emerett Colman Scrapbook (HP 2007-130 vol. 2).  You can find more information here
“October 27, 1917,” Marion Emerett Colman Scrapbook (HP 2007-130 vol. 2). You can find more information here

Currently on display in the Strozier Library Exhibit Room, “That I May Remember: The Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” is an exhibit focusing on the scrapbooks made by the students of Florida State College for Women.  See our original announcement here.

Now, we are proud to present an online extension of our exhibit.  The FSCW scrapbooks are rich with history and full of personality.  However, one of the challenges in displaying a scrapbook in an exhibit is that it can only display one page of each scrapbook.  This limitation makes it difficult to get the full depth of the scrapbook.  The online portion of “That I May Remember” takes an in-depth look at six selected scrapbooks.  The online exhibit includes over ninety images from each of the decades between the 1910s and the 1940s, while also providing additional history about some of the unique traditions of FSCW.

"19-Freshmen Commission-31," from the Class of 1934 Scrapbook (HP 2007-042) Learn more about this scrapbook here
“19-Freshmen Commission-31,” from the Class of 1934 Scrapbook (HP 2007-042) Learn more about this scrapbook here

You can find the online portion of “That I May Remember” here.

And don’t forget to visit the Strozier Library Exhibit Room to see the scrapbooks in person!

Rebecca L. Bramlett is a graduate assistant in the Special Collections & Archives Division.  She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science at Florida State University.

That I May Remember: Scrapbooks from Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)

FSCW Marching Band next to Bryan Hall
FSCW Marching Band next to Bryan Hall. Photo from the Victoria J. Lewis Scrapbook (HP-2007-079)

Florida State University Special Collections & Archives Division is proud to present our Fall 2014 exhibit, “That I May Remember: Scrapbooks from Florida State College for Women (1905-1947),” which opens today in the Strozier Library Exhibit Space. This exhibit features scrapbooks from Heritage Protocol & University Archives.

The scrapbook is an expression of memories, unique to each individual. By preserving, collecting, and arranging everyday objects, the creators of scrapbooks shaped a visual narrative of their lives. “That I May Remember” explores the scrapbooks created by the students of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947). Although scrapbooks are generally created for the preservation of an individual’s memory, when taken as a whole, the FSCW scrapbook collection grants its viewers a rare insight into the history of FSCW and the women who made it was it was.  These scrapbooks tell the stories of students’ lives, school pride, friendships, and their contributions to the heritage of Florida State University.

“That I May Remember” will be open Monday-Friday from 10:00am-6:00pm in Strozier until December 1st.

Scrapbooks: the Original Social Media

The Special Collections & Archives graduate assistants, Rebecca L. Bramlett and I, are busy preparing for the opening of our exhibit next Wednesday, October 15th. “That I May Remember: the Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” showcases many of the scrapbooks from the Heritage Protocol & University Archives’ collections and explores the scrapbook as a means of communication, focusing on the themes of school spirit, friendship, and creating self. With each scrapbook we opened, Rebecca and I were struck by the way the unique personalities of the women of FSCW jumped off the pages at us. As a whole, the FSCW scrapbooks provide an invaluable insight into what student life was like at one of the largest women’s colleges in the country – a college with rigorous academics, zealous sporting traditions, vibrant community life, and even secret societies. Individually, they present a visual narrative of each student’s college journey, as seen through her own eyes. Which got me thinking… As a means of creating and communicating self, the FSCW scrapbooks operate in much the same way that popular forms of social media do for students today.

 

Facebook

Laura Quayle Benson Scrapbook Autograph Page
Autograph page from the Laura Quayle Benson Scrapbook, 1917-1919 (HP-2007-041)

Wall posts, friends, messages, memes, event invitations, and “likes” – these conventions are not reserved for the twenty-first century. Many of the FSCW scrapbooks, like Laura Quayle Benson’s (pictured right), contain autograph pages signed by the scrapbook creator’s friends. Like a Facebook wall, these pages list a person’s friends along with personal notes from each of them. Some of the notes seem to be the generic words of a passing acquaintance (“With best wishes”), while others are rich with suggestions of inside jokes (“I love Laura ‘heaps’ – I wonder if (?) does?”). The scrapbooks are full of other forms of communication between friends and family – letters, notes, calling cards, package slips, greeting cards, and telegrams. Invitations to join sports teams, honor societies, and sororities are given pride of place as signs of belonging to a group, and collections of event programs read like a personal news feed of where each girl was on a given date. Flipping through the FSCW scrapbooks is a bit like scrolling through each girl’s Facebook wall. It gives one a sense of who she was at a certain point in her life – who she was friends with, what she did, what her interests were – even if the deeper, more personal meanings of the scrapbooks are sometimes obscured from the outside observer.

 

Annie Gertrude Gilliam Scrapbook Page
A page from the Annie Gertrude Gilliam Scrapbook, 1925-1931 (HP-2007-121)

Tumblr and Pinterest

Creating a scrapbook is an act of curation – carefully selecting texts and images and arranging them in a meaningful way. Although the creators of scrapbooks manipulate physical objects, users of sites like Pinterest and Tumblr use digital media to create collections of text, image, video, and sound meant to express something of themselves. The scrapbook of Annie Gertrude Gilliam (pictured left) contains many excellent examples of well-curated pages. Her clippings from advertisements, theater bills, and magazines are carefully arranged and replete with lively commentary (“A real knock out,” “Exciting and thrilling to the end”). These pages speak of a timeless need to organize our thoughts, express ourselves visually, and voice our opinions, whether in a private scrapbook or a public webpage.

 

Instagram

Jewell Genevieve Cooper Scrapbook Page
A page from the Jewell Genevieve Cooper Scrapbook, 1924-1930 (HP-2007-089)

Photographs are a common feature of almost all of the FSCW scrapbooks, and many of these photos include captions written by the scrapbook’s creator, such as those by Jewell Genevieve Cooper (pictured right). Photos in scrapbooks are, in a sense, “tagged” by the scrapbook creator. Jewell Genevieve Cooper’s “tags” tell us what the photos are of (an Odd-Even baseball game, one of FSCW’s wildly popular inter-school rivalries) and who is in them. These social layers added to photographs in scrapbooks are similar to the tags and descriptions users add to photos in social media sites like Instagram. Even though a picture says a thousand words, we can’t seem to resist adding our own words anyway.

 

The FSCW scrapbooks give a unique window into student life as told by the students themselves. While the scrapbooks present plenty of cataloging and preservation challenges for archivists, they are at least physical objects that can be stored and displayed as such. Students today are also telling their own stories, but they are doing so through social media sites like Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram. How these stories will be preserved and shared with future generations remains to be seen and is a question beyond the scope of this blog post. In the meantime, “That I May Remember: the Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” will be on display in the Strozier Library Exhibit Space from October 15th through December 1st.

Katherine Hoarn is a graduate assistant in Special Collections & Archives. She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science degree at Florida State University.

Getting to Know FSCW

For our first project as graduate assistants, Katherine Hoarn and I have been given the unique opportunity to delve into the history and heritage of Florida State University.  From the years 1905 – 1947, Florida State University was Florida State College for Women, one of the largest women’s colleges in the country.  To explore this fascinating aspect of FSU’s past, Katherine and I are putting together an exhibit centered on the scrapbooks of the students of Florida State College for Women. In preparing for this exhibit, I’ve not only learned about proper handling of archival material, but about the heritage of Florida State University.

From the Scrapbook of Jewell Genevieve Cooper, c. 1925 (HP 2007-089)
From the Scrapbook of Jewell Genevieve Cooper, 1925 (HP 2007-089).  See full description here

The first step in deciding how to approach the exhibit was to research the history of Florida State College for Women.  We consulted numerous resources, but my favorites were the primary sources themselves—the scrapbooks. As historical documents, scrapbooks are special.  Each scrapbook is an individual and unique combination of text, photographs and papers.  They are arranged in such a way that the interests and personalities of Florida State College for Women students come through.  It’s also been interesting to see some similar themes and concerns fill the pages of scrapbooks across the forty plus year span of Florida State College for Women.

It would be difficult to choose a “favorite” scrapbook.  As each is unique and individual, they are all remarkable in different ways.  Marion Emerett Colman’s (HP 2007-130, go here for more information) combination of scrapbook and journal gives the reader a glimpse into the triumphs and concerns of an academically minded college sophomore in 1917.

Some scrapbooks delve into current events.  Alberta Lee Davis’s scrapbook devotes pages to the end of World War I.  (Alberta Lee Davis’ scrapbook is currently unprocessed.  This means that it hasn’t yet been assigned an accession number, the number by which Special Collections & Archives will identify the scrapbook.  For the scrapbooks from Heritage Protocol & University Archives, the accession number looks like HP ####-###.  This also means that a finding aid hasn’t yet been created in Archon, the database for searching through the manuscript collections in Special Collections & Archives).

From the scrapbook of Victoria J. Lewis, c. 1940-1944 (HP 2007-079).
From the scrapbook of Victoria J. Lewis, c. 1940-1944 (HP 2007-079). See full description here

The scrapbooks of Jewell Genevieve Cooper (HP 2007-089, go here for more information), with its newspaper clippings and personal photographs gives its viewer a special glimpse into the traditions of Florida State College for Women during the 1920s.

Other scrapbooks, such as that of Victoria J. Lewis (HP 2007-079, go here for more information) shows similar concerns to that of contemporary teenagers, showing us the commonalities between teenager girls at the beginning of the twentieth century and at the beginning of the twenty-first century.  The past really isn’t that distant.

Finding the connections between past and present has been wonderful, as has learning more about the history of Florida State University.

“That I May Remember: The Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” is scheduled to open October 15 – December 1 in the exhibit space in Strozier Library.

Rebecca L. Bramlett is a graduate assistant in the Special Collections & Archives Division.  She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science at Florida State University.  

John MacKay Shaw: The Man Behind the Collection

John Shaw exhibit poster

Dr. Teri Abstein’s Spring 2014 Museum Object class, in collaboration with FSU’s Special Collections & Archives, is pleased to present its exhibit, John MacKay Shaw: The Man Behind the Collection. Shaw was born in Scotland and immigrated to the United States as a teen. After marriage and having his own children, Shaw began his collection of childhood poetry and literature in the 1930s. His collection grew to include all the masters of English literature who have written about childhood – and almost every English poet has.  The Shaw Collection was donated to FSU with 6,000 volumes; the collection currently comprises of over 35,000 volumes and 69 linear feet of archival material.

In the exhibit, you will be able to view Shaw’s own poetry written for his children, letters between Shaw and Dr. Seuss, first editions of books which turned into popular children’s movies, part of the largest Scottish collection in America and finally, the legacy Shaw has left to his children, to Florida State University and many others.

A digital exhibit to complement the physical exhibit can be found here.

John MacKay Shaw: The Man Behind the Collection is open from 10am-6pm in the Strozier Exhibit Room and will be available to view until Fall 2014.