Co-Moderators: Greta Earnest, Art and Architecture Librarian, Pratt Institute. Jill Patrick, Library Director, Ontario College of Art and Design
Sponsor: Art and Design School Library Division
Contributors: Gloria Lee, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Austin. Tim Litzmann, Artist, New York, NY. Philip Pacey, Subject Team Leader, Library and Learning Resources, University of Central Lancashire.
This session addressed the question: Does providing reference work for art, design and architecture students set forth a particular set of issues? Addressing the topic were an artist, a librarian and a graphic design professor.
I. Tim Litzmann.
Litzmann, a practicing artist, sought to articulate relationships between artists and art librarians, especially in terms of how the librarian can interpret visual, sometimes amorphous ideas of what an artist wants. He interviewed three visual artists for their thoughts on the role of libraries and librarians in relation to the artists' work:
Patrick Jewell, "a painter of objects," describes the library as an indirect influence on his work. He uses Ralph Mayer's Handbook for Artists, periodicals and newspapers. He rarely consults a librarian, enjoying instead to look for himself.
Karen Hagel pursues painting and drawing, some of which incorporates words and literary reference. She describes a direct influence by library information on her work. This includes works on artists, but also titles -- of books, of works of art -- and literature: Flannery O'Connor, Shakespeare, Rupert Brooke.
Lorraine Edwards works with photography, often manipulating the image in the darkroom. She used an example of her work to show her use of library materials. The work incorporates an image of an Ona Indian. She says finding the image was serendipity, yet it turned out to influence the series in progress.
II. Gloria Lee. "apples(RESEARCH)oranges"
Drawing on her experience with design students at the University of Texas at Austin, Gloria Lee described what motivates students to use the library, as well as what is helpful, difficult or frustrating for them.
She described students and their course work. Design programs are often conceived as vocational programs. Their emphasis may be in the visual realm, with little attention to analysis, writing or textual research. UT approaches design as complex cultural communication, conceiving the design process as a series of inquiries with analysis. She described assignments involving the library, which she divided into "written" research and "design" research. The curriculum stresses that writing and design are both forms of communication, and that one can use written information for a written product or use written information for a not-necessarily written product.
1. Written research. In a course on design history, a student might write short papers on a variety of topics, such as a typeface, a designer, or a design activity in context. Problems encountered: finding contextual, critical sources.
2. Design research. For a current sophomore project, students investigate the making of a bestseller -- in several senses. They consider the text itself but also media and marketing. Finally, they design a book cover to express their thoughts on an aspect of the book-making process. Thus, textual and design research results in a non-textual form. A variety of sources may be consulted, such as "New York Times Online", www.amazon.com, "Oprah", industry and fan literature.
What brings students to the library?
--An assignment requiring content background.
--Contemporary readings in design, as in new periodicals.
--Inspiration: especially contemporary conceptual artists working in new media.
What is helpful for students in the library?
--Current design journals such as Eye, Emigre, Blueprint, Wired, Metropolis, Leonardo, ACM SIGGRAPH, SIG CHI, Print.
What is frustrating?
--Locating journals if they're not indexed online.
--Search engines: using them effectively; knowing which is best for what.
--Physical design of libraries: their architectural design and use of space.
What is difficult?
--Image research. Recommendation: provide image indexes. E.g.: help to find a picture of a rat in a cage; or index images in Life Magazine. A useful source of images are end-of-year photo magazine round-ups.
--Critical thinking skills. The capacity to ask: is this the best source I could be using? How can I best determine the quality of Web links?
III. Philip Pacey. "Making Our Libraries Self-explanatory: Alternatives to Library Instruction"
Pacey looks to his career for insight into the session topic.
His library school experience led him to conclude: why inflict the experience of library school on the BI (Bibliographic Instruction) audience, especially if they aren't becoming librarians?
He was inspired by Frank Hatt's "My Kind of Library Tutoring", in IFLA's A Reader in Art Librarianship, concluding that the BI audience isn't interested in How To Find Out; what drives use is How To Find Out About a topic of interest. So, create opportunities for students to educate themselves.
He is concerned that a lack of professional enthusiasm for BI reflects an abandonment of a commitment to the value of providing information skills to all. He is committed to the goal of access to library information without impediment or dependence.
In his early professional life, Pacey resisted BI and emphasized leaflets. For graduating students, he created a booklet on How To Find Out After You Leave School. Some: some people won't read leaflets, or if attending a BI session, won't listen; leaflets put the onus on the student; leaflets are available all the time. With BI, he has had some success with showing "beautiful books" and "glitz". In whatever form, Pacey attempts to communicate "one great secret": bibliographies refer to what has been done; indexes refer to what is in progress.
Pacey sought an alternative (sometimes by fiscal necessity): the "self explanatory library", defined as: skills on demand, "everything transparent", all learned by doing, all articulated in clear, detailed instructions. The rule: there shall be no machine, bibliography, place, collection without on-the-spot, self-explanatory instructions. The result: a "learning package"; learning to use by using.
What would this be like?
--Signage with clear and simple language.
--Library publications: guides, features.
--Self-instruction workbooks: develop to cover basics.
--Instructional media: books (Lois Swan-Jones), videos, audio, etc.
--Computers: menu-driven with written instructions, cheap end-user access for hands-on learning
What would be the role of actual librarians?
--The self-explanatory library seeks to explain itself even when full staff not available.
--Doesn't imply reduction of staff.
What would be the role of BI?
--If it supports the self-explanatory goal, it has a role.
--It should be oriented to practice: "One showing is worth a thousand tellings" or writings.
To this end, Pacey proposes:
--Enable them to transfer skills to students and integrate them into the curriculum.
--Devise situations in which students are motivated to Find Out.
--Students learn from each other. Train students as instructors, mentors.
Pacey concludes with words from Hatt (see above): "the best we can do may be to make it possible for students to educate themselves".
Q. Response to self-explanatory library idea?
A. From one librarian in the audience: Which self is self-explanatory? Must we be all things to all people in all ways? The idea could be a threat to staffing. Is the future to "write pathfinders until we die"? She believes the answer is human interaction. The point of instruction should be the point of query. So, librarians must "clone themselves" by allying with faculty as mentors and involving promising undergrad and grad students: targeting "selves".
A. "Every library has its own logic".
Q. How will the Net change our educational role? Will faculty interest in
research provide an opportunity for mediation? How much time spent do we spend
doing guides? Do we explain external collections, as the Internet
A. Pacey: wary.
A. Sara MacDonald (Philadelphia): raises question of critical thinking and evaluation skills.
Q. How does one get students to read guides? Art students are often visually
A. Step-by-step workbooks.
A. Do guides from a designer's (or artist's) point of view.
Q. Time is an important element. What about use of students to help with
A. One librarian had success with student mentors at reference desk for on-demand instruction in CD and computer use. Another audience member agreed: one-on-one help with CD's more successful than on-screen or paper.
A. Another in the audience raised the issue of territory. Also concern with quality of information going out.
Parsons School of Design