This week the Virginia Tech Library published “What’s the Big Deal? Global Trends and Movements Shaping Higher Ed,” a recorded talk by Brandon Butler, UVA Library Director of Information Policy. In the talk, given as part of Open Access Week 2019, Butler describes how and why libraries and universities around the world are thinking differently about the journal subscription packages known as “Big Deals.” The combination of unsustainable price increases, declining value, and diverging values makes this a turbulent time for libraries and publishers trying to find common ground, Butler argues.
Digitization of these 173 discs was funded by Recordings at Risk, a national regranting program established in 2017 and administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to support preservation of rare and unique audiovisual materials of high scholarly value through digital reformatting. The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Ethnographic recordings hold diverse research interest from anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, and historians of media, and access to these recordings and improved descriptions of them will provide important context to the early study of folksong by both academics and enthusiasts.
Digitization and documentation make for easy online access
Aluminum direct-cut or instantaneous discs were the earliest available format for making grooved disc recordings in the field, pre-dating lacquer by several years. Grooves were embossed into the soft metal (as opposed to being cut via a subtractive process), and recordings were intended to be played back with specialized needles made of bamboo or cactus fiber.
New, digitized master files of these discs were created and wedded with existing metadata drawn from the research of VFS members. An improved finding aidhas been created for the Society’s archival collection which also features sheet music, newsletters, and photographs. Disc-level records with streaming audio, freely accessible to all, are available through the UVA Library’s local instance of Avalon Media System.
History of the collection and research implications
Founded in 1913, the VFS gathered ballads and folklore in tandem with the earliest state societies conducting similar projects. Arthur Kyle Davis, Jr., a professor of English at the University of Virginia, directed the society beginning in 1924. After compiling and publishing the early volume Traditional Ballads from Virginia (1929), he sought out new technology to create phonographic records, and in 1932 began to use emerging technology to record some of the singers, primarily in southwestern Virginia, from whom the VFS had previously collected songs. UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library now holds these unique aluminum instantaneous discs created in the field by Davis and others to document ballads and folksongs previously preserved through oral tradition.
These recordings feature unique variants of popular “Child ballads” and other songs, but also include many tunes which are largely unknown. Apart from information documented in the collector’s notes, little is also known about many of the musicians and singers. However, this collection features the earliest known recordings of folk musicians such as Horton Barker, Abner Keesee, and Texas Gladden. Perhaps the most famous of these is Gladden, from Saltville, Virginia. Gladden was recorded in 1941 by the ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, who called her “one of the best American ballad singers ever recorded.” The discs in this collection feature what are almost certainly the earliest recordings of her work.
Increased awareness of this collection will have considerable research implications, as knowledge of field recording expeditions in the South are currently dominated by the 1933 work of Alan Lomax and his father John A. Lomax. This newly accessible collection laid the groundwork that helped make possible the more well-known recordings made by the Lomaxes and others.
Singer John P. Kee has earned accolades as a top-ranked gospel performer and pastor of the New Life Fellowship Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Inspired by the work of the Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, Kee overcame a troubled life of drugs and crime, emerging in the late ’80s as a powerful vocalist and minister. For three decades, Pastor Kee’s albums have made him one of the most popular contemporary gospel artists of his generation.
The Library also joins with the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights, and the Center for Health Policy at Batten, to invite you to the auditorium of theSmall Special Collections Library, Tuesday, January 28, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., for a game, but it’s not about winning; it’s about life. The game is Factuality.
Each player chooses to be a character from a particular ethnic background — Asian, White, African American, or Latinx — diversified further by gender, sexual orientation, religion, and social class. In the game, each character encounters situations highlighting advantages and limitations to their assigned identities based on issues like redlining and gentrification, race and gender pay gaps, incarceration and bail disparities — data is compiled from real-world stats about the effects of structural inequality on the various groups.
The rich mix of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and class does not allow for easy answers. Participants reflect on the intricacies of structured inequality and acquire information they can use to dismantle preconceived biases. Find out more about yourself than you knew!
The Center for Health Policy; ChangeLab Solutions; The Equity Center at UVA; UVA Schools of Nursing, Medicine and Law; Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law; the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute, and the University Library will host a two day symposium “Healing Hate: A Public Health Perspective on Civil Rights,” Thursday, January 30 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Law School, and on Friday, January 31, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Pinn Hall in the Medical School.
Registration is required both days on the MLK events website. Please register.
A recent article in UVA Today highlights efforts by grad students Neal Curtis and Samuel Lemley to preserve the Library’s card catalog. “As the library’s record of itself, the [archived] card catalog will enable future researchers to reconstruct how the University curated and represented knowledge at a given moment in its history,” Curtis and Lemley wrote in their proposal. The project is currently raising funds to ensure that the information from the catalog cards will be available eventually through the online catalog.
Lemley and Curtis have been working with University Library Exhibits Coordinator Holly Robertson and other library staff, who have vetted and improved the process they devised. Former UVA President and student library worker John Casteen, an enthusiastic backer of the project, remembers notes on the backs of the cards in the catalog about some of the books that came from founder Thomas Jefferson or other significant collections.
“The University of Virginia was built around its library,” University Librarian John Unsworth wrote in an email, “and it has a long and distinguished history of bibliographic scholarship … The fact that this effort to preserve the final state of our (1989) card catalog is being led and organized by graduate students testifies to the continued vitality of that tradition.
“I’m glad this is getting done, and it is a good example of a history being actively and socially negotiated, preserved and transmitted through community.”
Since 2014, Mary Brackett, senior associate with UVA’s center for Organizational Excellence, has been teaming with her Australian Shepherd/Lab mix, Ruth, to relieve student stress in libraries at exam time.
The word “ruth” is defined in the dictionary as — among other things — pity, compassion, mercy, tenderness, and sympathy.
Each of the past five years, Ruth has been on-Grounds in the holiday season, dispensing calmness, not asking where you’re from or what your politics are, just wanting a pat on the head, a scratch behind the years or under the chin.
Below are a few pictures of Ruth spreading her special brand of holiday cheer in the Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library. Enjoy!
The University of Virginia Library is pleased to announce that Mira Waller will join the Library as Associate University Librarian (AUL) for Research and Learning Services. Waller will begin at UVA on March 30, 2020.
As AUL for Research and Learning Services, Waller will serve on the Library’s Senior Leadership Team, providing leadership for the subject liaison program, the teaching and learning program, faculty programs, and specialized user services. She will guide the Library’s information services, including reference, reserves and circulation, and will ensure that the libraries provide a consistent, pleasant, and productive experience to all researchers and Library visitors. Waller will also oversee the development of services and programming for new and evolving teaching and research tools and methods, including those for digital scholarship, multimedia production and use, and data management and analysis.
Waller is currently the Head of the Research Engagement Department in the North Carolina State University Libraries. She leads and oversees a department that provides expertise and services to enhance research and academic engagement; coordinates management of the Libraries’ high-tech spaces; and explores ways to partner with the NC State community throughout the research and academic enterprise.
Waller came to the NC State University Libraries as Associate Head, Collections & Research Strategy, a role in which she shared management responsibility for the department and for the Libraries’ collections budget. She has been an active participant in the movement to re-envision the role of the subject liaison, both at NC State and nationally, contributing to the development of tools and training to enhance support for research.
Before joining the NC State University Libraries, Waller was Director of Publishing Services for Project Euclid, an online community and publishing platform for mathematics and statistics scholarship, managed jointly by Cornell University Library and Duke University Press. Previously she served as Assistant Director of Archives, at Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives. Waller has a long track record as a collaborative leader, and has published and presented widely on topics related to libraries, archives, and academic publishing.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the UVA Library during this time of tremendous opportunity and change in higher education,” said Waller. “And I look forward to collaborating with my outstanding colleagues in the Library, our accomplished faculty and talented students, and other campus stakeholders to advance the research, teaching, learning and service missions of UVA.”
he University of Virginia Library is calling for proposals for two faculty programs:
Course Enrichment Grants provide support to faculty who would like to enhance students’ abilities to seek, evaluate, manage, and use information and data, as well as create new types of media-rich class assignments. Recipients receive a $2,500 award and dedicated support from experienced librarians, technologists, or other library staff.
Open to anyone holding a faculty appointment at the University of Virginia who is teaching a semester-long course (Fall 2020; J-Term, Spring, Summer 2021).
Faculty Research Sprints offer an intensive work environment for faculty who want to concentrate their energies on a new or existing project. Individuals or teams get the undivided attention of a team of librarians for projects related to any phase or aspect of their research, scholarship, or teaching.
Open to anyone holding a faculty appointment as well as senior professional research staff at the University of Virginia.
Sprint week: May 11-15, 2020.
Course Enrichment Grants — Application deadline, March 2, 2020; Notifications, March 30, 2020.
Research Sprints — Application deadline, February 14, 2020; Notifications, March 13, 2020.
The Library’s favorite therapy dog, the Australian Shepherd/Lab mix Ruth, is returning to the Fine Arts Library and Brown Science & Engineering Library during exams with her human, Mary Brackett.
If you’ve visited Ruth’s Facebook page, you know she wants your attention. So take a break from your studies, come over, pet her, and you’ll go back feeling better. It’s Ruth’s job and she loves her work!
Mary Brackett and Ruth will visit the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Mary and Ruth will be in the Charles L. Brown Science & Engineering Library on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
A Cavalier Daily article, “Illustrating infectious diseases in 3D,” highlights Library Information Visualization Specialist Arin Bennett‘s contribution to a grant-funded project to create a virtual reality program for instructing UVA students about complex biological processes.
The $99,945 grant from the Jefferson Trust will fund a proposal by Bennett and project director Jennifer Guler to use virtual reality to implement an internship program within University classrooms—Guler is an assistant professor in the biology department and teaches infectious disease at the University.
When the project is completed, there will be two public VR headsets in the Robertson Media Center on the third floor of Clemons Library. “We are building all this in Unity 3D, which is a game engine,” Bennett said. The open source project will be available to the public and feature a variety of programs to use with the headsets. According to Bennett, the programs can be exported “out to Windows to Mac to iPhone, Android, PlayStation and VR. So the content will be used and reused.”