Thinking about images: an Art History major’s thoughts on archival processing
Guest post by Emily Smith, Spring 2017 Archival Assistant
My name is Emily Smith, I am a graduating senior with a double major in Art History and Religious Studies. I have been working in the Archives as an Archival Assistant over the past semester.
One project that I worked on this semester while a student archival assistant at the St. Mary’s college of Maryland archives was the sorting of digital photographs of the Alba Music Festival from 2005-2011. Working with images is part of my background as both an Art History major and the Supervisor of the Fine Art Collections at SMCM. However, this project was different than my experience working at the art gallery. The purpose of image analysis in Art History is often to identify its aesthetic and contextual qualities, and engage with the intent of the artist and the experience of the viewer in turn. This project required that I treat the photographs as documents and information, and think critically about its place within the Archives. The first question I was trained to ask was similar to what we think about in Art History, which was ‘what information is the photograph telling me?’ The second question was slightly different, and a new technique for me when thinking about images. It was ‘how is that information relevant to the college and the Archives?
The first step of the project was to look at each individual image, and decide which photographs should be added to the archive’s permanent digital collection and which ones to separate, or remove from the collection, because their content was redundant. In this digital age, sometimes people transfer an entire SD card from a digital camera without any editing process, and archives are left with dozens of images which, from an archival perspective, are superfluous. The field of Archival Science provides impartial guidelines for thinking archival appraisal and issues such as uniqueness, and compels us to always ask ourselves what the archive is trying to document with a collection. The images could be deleted due to redundancy, irrelevance, or poor image quality.
When faced with multiple images of a subject deemed relevant to the Archives, it was easy to utilize some of the skills I learned as an Art History student, such as visual literacy, or being able to understand visual symbols, cues, and motifs. At this point, I could have a little bit of fun and choose from the redundant images based on their visual clarity or level of visual interest they could offer to a future researcher. Following the initial sort of the images, I accessioned each remaining image and provided it with a title and a caption, and picked subject headings from both the Library of Congress Subject Heading authority, as well as the pre-determined terms from local vocabularies. This was done in order to help people navigate future research or other uses of this image collection. It was interesting to engage with these digital images and parse out their most important details while thinking about what information within the image would be useful to someone looking back through this image collection at a later time. I had to think both about what information stands out to me now, and then hypothesize what information would be relevant to researchers in the future. In total, the Alba image sort was a useful experience in thinking about photographs and digital images from different perspectives, and engaging with them in dynamic new ways.
It’s back! The SMCM Library Summer Reading Program will begin on June 1 and end on August 18, 2017.
The Summer Reading program is sponsored by the St. Mary’s College Library, Archives & Media Center and is open to all members of the St. Mary’s Library community including students, staff, faculty, alumni and residents of the Tri-County area (St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties.) You may read anything you like as long as a copy is available at the St. Mary’s College Library (SMCM) or COSMOS, the Southern Maryland Libraries catalog, or the USMAI catalog. You do not need to check the book out of the library. To get points you must post a review on the St. Mary’s College Library Summer Reading blog.
Grand Prize drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. Open to participants who earn at least 5 points.
The Library, Archives & Media Center will be closed Monday, May 29 for Memorial Day.
Summer is here! The water is cool, the sun is shining, and the Library is open.
Throughout the St. Mary’s summer session the Library hours are:
Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays: Closed
So if you want to get a jump start on your SMP, work on a summer research project, or just need a break from the heat, stop in and say hello! We’ll be happy to see you.
The SMCM Library, Archive & Media Center Student Employee Class of 2017 had the opportunity to select a book from the collection that was meaningful to them during their time at St. Mary’s. They then posed for a portrait with that book and shared a bit about why it’s important to them.
Mariam Adeyemo; Biology, major; WGSX, minor
Matthew Riedel; History & Religious Studies, major
Ian Scribner; Computer Science, major; Mathematics, minor
Gabe York; Chemistry, major
Join us TOMORROW (May 3) from 4-6pm in the betaLounge on the Library first floor for
T-shirt UpCycling & PIZZA!
Turn a t-shirt into a reusable shopping bag, throw pillow, and more!
All supplies provided! No sewing necessary!
Pizza & snacks!
T-shirts generously donated by the Office of Sustainability and SMCM Freestore.
Extended Library and Media Center hours begin Tuesday, April 25.
NEW THIS SEMESTER: Media Center is open later and on weekends!
Looking for study spaces? Check out the new betaLounge on the 1st floor for some comfy seating! Need privacy, you can also book one of the 2nd floor study rooms!
Need a laptop/phone charger, ethernet cord, and/or an extension cord? Ask at the first floor Circulation (check out) desk. And keep an eye out for the new phone and tablet charging stations — there’s one on each floor!
And of course, don’t forget to wear layers!
Best of luck!
|Tuesday, April 25 – Thursday, April 27||8:00 am – 2:00 am||8:00 am – 10:30 pm|
|Friday, April 28||8:00 am – 9:00 pm||8:00 am – 5:00 pm|
|Saturday, April 29||9:00 am – 9:00 pm||Noon – 3:00 pm|
|Sunday, April 30||11:00 am – 1:00 am||6:00 pm – 9:00 pm|
|Monday, May 1 – Tuesday, May 2||8:00 am – 1:00 am||8:00 am – 10:30 pm|
|Wednesday, May 3 – Thursday, May 4||8:00 am – 2:00 am||8:00 am – midnight|
|Friday, May 5||8:00 am – midnight||8:00 am – 5:00 pm|
|Saturday, May 6||9:00 am – 9:00 pm||Noon – 3:00 pm|
|Sunday, May 7||11:00 am – 2:00 am||6:00 pm – 9:00 pm|
|Monday, May 8||8:00 am – midnight||8:00 am – midnight|
|Tuesday, May 9||8:00 am– 6:00 pm||8:00 am – 6:00 pm|
|Wednesday, May 10 – Friday, May 12||8:00 am– 5:00 pm||8:00 am – 5:00 pm|
If you’ve spend any time in the Media Center lab on the third-floor of the Library, chances are good you already know Jazzie Gray.
Originally from Baltimore, Jazzie grew up all over the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, living in North Carolina and Virginia before moving back to Baltimore to finish high school. St. Mary’s wasn’t on Jazzie’s radar when initially looking for colleges (she was looking at her “dream schools,” like NYU), but came to SMCM after learning about it from her Aunt. She credits living in rural North Carolina as a kid with helping her acclimate to campus life here, where she has made friends in many different social groups and student clubs including BSU, Burlesque, and Latinos Unidos.
As a senior Anthropology major, Jazzie’s capstone project analyses how women of color are represented (and misrepresented) in media, through the lens of the top 25 highest rated television shows of all time. In addition, she’s working on an independent oral history project interviewing persons of color and persons of other among students, faculty, and staff on the SMCM campus. Created in reaction to the racist incidents on campus in 2016, this project will record the voices of people who are often not heard on campus and publicize their experiences, which are often overlooked. Jazzie plans to project these interviews on the side of different academic buildings around campus.
Jazzie began working at the Media Center in the summer of her first year. After seeing the Media Center on a tour as a part of the DeSousa-Brent Scholars program, got the job thanks in part to her honest resume that included items like “part-environmentalist” and “pretty good whistler” to make us for limited job experience. Her favorite thing about working at the Media Center is all the free donut Justin and Raven bring in! But on top of all the free donuts, by working at the Media Center Jazzie has gained technical software skills and honed her communication skills through working with all the different students, faculty, and staff that come to the MC. On any given shift, you can find her teaching students how to use the software and equipment, or singing and dancing.
Post-graduation, Jazzie is looking for a job where she can apply all the knowledge and skills gained in her career at St. Mary’s. An ideal job would draw not only on her Anthropology degree, but also the technical and teaching skills learned at the Media Center, and the interpersonal skills gained through her involvement with many student clubs over the years. Eventually, Jazzie would like to go to grad school and work in a cross-cultural studies field, but right now she’s focused on the post-SMCM job search.
We’re happy to finally introduce our awesome new director Kate Pitcher! Please give a (belated) welcome when you see her around campus!
In July 2016, I became the Director of the Library, Archives, and Media Center here at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Prior to SMCM, I was the interim Director of Milne Library at the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Geneseo.
I’ve worked in many different library capacities; including public libraries (I worked for the NYPL branch libraries for a spell) and in academic libraries doing collection development, instruction, government documents, web development, and as head of digital scholarship and publishing. In the latter capacity, I served as the Project Manager for Digital Thoreau, a collaborative digital project which encompassed a social reading platform for Thoreau’s works, a fluid text edition of Thoreau’s Walden manuscripts, and an Omeka digital collection collecting and studying the work and contributions of noted Thoreau scholar, Dr. Walter Harding.
Prior to SMCM, I was also the principal investigator of the grant-funded Open SUNY Textbooks project, which studied how libraries and colleges could develop services and infrastructure to support faculty development of open educational resources, open textbooks, and open pedagogy surrounding classroom teaching and learning. My research and writing interests are in these areas of open digital publishing and changing scholarly communication practices, as well as how libraries are evolving to assist faculty and their institutions in meeting the challenges of a digital, networked, and open academy. I’m also fascinated by the economics of information and the increasing need for democratic and sound information technology and public policy, especially as it relates to higher education.
I’m a native New Yorker (upstate, that is!) and so I’m used to snow, but really excited about being in a southern climate during the winter. I have three children, all in elementary school; one husband; three guinea pigs and a cat. When I have free time I like to read, swim, kayak, and bike. I’m also a politics junkie, so being this close to D.C. is a wonderful turn of events.