VRA 2014 The Teaching Turn, Schoen


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Presented by Molly Schoen at the Annual Conference of the Visual Resources Association, March 12-15, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Session #4: The Teaching Turn: From Static Collections to Dynamic Learning Centers

ORGANIZER: Heather Lowe, California State University, San Bernardino
(on behalf of the VRA Emerging Professionals and Students Group)

MODERATOR: Jasmine Burns, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

• Stephen Cardinale, University of Colorado, Boulder
• Anna Bernhard, Colorado State University
• Molly Schoen, University of Michigan
• Chris Strasbaugh, Vanderbilt University

Much of the business of creating and disseminating images has moved away from individual academic departments and isolated image collections toward centralized cross-discipline departments. This has left many visual resource centers looking for new ways to engage users and support the educational goals of their institutions. One way centers are meeting these new challenges is by transforming from being a storage silo for physical slide collections to being a collaborative learning space where students and faculty alike can come to work on projects and refine imaging and videography skills. As many resource centers make this move toward more teaching and learning, the physical spaces and skill sets of employees have also shifted. This session will examine case studies of visual resource centers programming that is directed to teaching imaging skills and how this new role is shifting their profile within their institutions.

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VRA 2014 The Teaching Turn, Schoen

  1. 1. Promoting Visual Literacy Across Campus: a Case Study Visual Resources Collections Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan. VRA Conference 32, Session #4 The Teaching Turn: From Static Collections to Dynamic Learning Centers March 13, 2014 Molly Schoen schoenm@umich.edu
  2. 2. An Overview of the VRC • History of Art Visual Resources Collections (HART VRC), at the University of Michigan • Contains: – 80,000 + digital images • Copy photography • Digitized slide distribution sets • Vendor images – 150,000 35mm slides used for teaching (weeded from a collection of 300,000) – 50,000 lantern slides – 200,000 + archival research images (negatives, prints, slides of original photography)
  3. 3. An Overview of the VRC • Examples of collections: – Palace Museum Archive – South Asian Art Archive – Islamic Art Archive – Romanesque Archive – Sinai Archive – Distribution sets, slides created and sold by UM , 1970-2006 • ACSAA: American Council on Southern Asian Art • AAPD: Asian Art Photographic Distribution • UMSD:University of Michigan Slide Distribution (western art) Ilene Forsyth Romanesque Collection
  4. 4. The Ghost of VRC Past • Inconsistent Record Keeping – AAPD numbering: each slide supposed to have a unique, four-digit number. – different slides were sometimes replaced in AAPD sets over time. The staff at the time would just re- use the same numbers, so numerous works share the same accession numbers.
  5. 5. The Ghost of VRC Past • Mysteries everywhere – Undocumented collections – Incomplete inventory spreadsheets left by temporary workers with no information on how to finish them. – Inconsistent or nonexistent procedures – Unfinished projects left on tables
  6. 6. The Ghost of VRC Past • Services offered to HART faculty only • Stuffy rules, unfriendly signage
  7. 7. VRC in Transition • Stopped circulating slides for teaching in 2009 • Weeded copy photography slides, slides from certain vendors, and some duplicates. • Digitization services extended to extra-departmental faculty and UM- Dearborn faculty • Began services to HART graduate students in 2012 – Unofficially, we can sometimes digitize materials for undergraduate students as well.
  8. 8. Challenges • Steady decline in faculty image orders: – 2011: 221 – 2012: 205 – 2013: 144 • Faculty are able to find their own images online now more than ever • How do we stay relevant? – Increase access to collections – Promote best practices / visual literacy – Collaborate with faculty on writing grants for long-term digitization projects – Collaborate with other departments across campus – New outreach initiatives
  9. 9. Increase Access to Collections • Moving away from cataloging individual images at item level • Instead, focus on creating finding aids in EAD format – Displays online and is searchable – Can be integrated with other UM Library finding aids • Finding aids created in the past were done just using Word and were not posted online. – Recruited Library & Information Science students from Wayne State University to convert them to EAD
  10. 10. Promote Best Practices and Visual Literacy • Classroom presentations on finding images revamped to explain why visual literacy is important: – Know when to trust the publisher of an image – Accuracy – Copyright concerns • Presentations given to History of Art classes as well as Classics and other departments Screenshot showing color variations in Google Images
  11. 11. Collaborating with Faculty • As we uncover collections, we contact faculty who may be interested – We came across a box of century-old Japanese and Chinese scrolls, had a student inventory and describe them, then notified faculty involved with Asian art. – After finding slides of costume and dance photographs, we set up a meeting to show them to a professor within the Department of Dance Jin Nong. Ink Play, Leaf 2. 1754.
  12. 12. Collaborating with Faculty • Working on writing several grants with faculty – Promotes the professor’s work and puts the VRC in the spotlight – Provides funding for long-term digitization projects, which: • Increases public access through online availability • Ensures longevity of VRC
  13. 13. Collaborating with other departments • We frequently meet with UM Library staff on a variety of projects: – Finding aids – using templates created by UM Libraries, with possibility of using their library catalog platform to host our finding aids. – Giving joint presentations to students on research and copyright • Collections Committee: a campus-wide group of people working in museum, library, and digital collections. – Discuss issues and share new developments.
  14. 14. New Outreach Initiatives • Publicity – Collaborate with HART marketing specialist for updates on the department’s website, facebook page, and email newsletters – Regularly update our own website – Announcements on library informations screens • Faculty Outreach – Fall faculty meeting: do an “elevator pitch” to inform faculty of VRC services – Also contact via email at the beginning of each term The VRC homepage, with new “Search Our Images” button displayed prominently
  15. 15. New Outreach Initiatives • Event Hosting – Emeriti Appreciation Event – Copyright Q&A – Fall Open House – Technology sessions