Architecture: A Place for Women

By Barbara Opar, Librarian for Architecture.

In recent years prior to the pandemic, the King+King Architecture Library supported events related to Women’s History Month. With restrictions still in place with respect to COVID, we have turned to book exhibits and a research guide to highlight our numerous resources related to women and architecture. The guide is a work in progress and soon will include additional materials, such as book covers and descriptions of some of the major resources. Books by Susana Torre, once a School of Architecture Visiting Critic, and Doris Cole will introduce you to our extraordinary history. Check out these and other resources to learn about the challenges and successes women have had in the architectural profession. It is a rich history, but one fraught with setbacks, lack of recognition, and much inequality.

The first woman to have worked as a professional architect in the United States was Louise Blanchard Bethune, born nearby in Waterloo, New York, who became an apprentice in 1876 and was later admitted to a local professional association in 1885.  Almost eighty years passed before Norma Merrick Sklarek became the first licensed Black woman architect in 1954. Both remarkable women. Yet, few people today recognize these pioneers.  Only a few of us know about the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, or recognize the 1919 graduate name Eleanor Raymond, or Sarah Pillsbury Harkness, who co-founded of TAC (The Architects’ Collaborative).

Though today most students in architecture and even other disciplines are cognizant of Zaha Hadid’s amazing career, hopefully she will not be forgotten it time. Yet, twenty years ago, Denise Scott Brown was rejected for the Pritzker Prize, though her husband and long-time partner in projects and even books like Learning from Las Vegas, alone received the award. The Pritzker has done better recently. SANAA has been recognized, and just this year Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal received the Prize. Last year a partnership of two women — Grafton Architects — was awarded this honor. So perhaps the remarkable creativity of women architects will be more recognized and is slowly coming into the limelight.

Syracuse can lay claim to having educated important women in the field today. Books about Annabelle Selldorf are included in SU Libraries’ collection. SURFACE includes a thesis preparation book by Hilary Sample of MOS (https://surface.syr.edu/architecture_tpreps/176/). Margaret Griffin is represented in the SOA Lecture Series, also available through SURFACE. We have working drawings by Lea Ciavarra’s firm. Each has a different focus, but all are important to SOA, the University, and the profession at large.

While we celebrate these women and many more like them to come, let us read and learn how women got there.  Our resources span history, individual contributions, and topics like women’s issues. Peruse the display and the guide and become more knowledgeable about women architects.


2020 Electronic Theses and Dissertations Now Available

by Deirdre Joyce, Head of Digital Library Program.

The records for the ETDs (Electronic Theses and Dissertations) submitted by the Graduate School for calendar year 2020 have been processed and loaded into SURFACE – Syracuse University’s Institutional Repository. These include 97 May graduations, 25 June graduations, 62 August graduations, and 54 December graduations, all totaling 238 submissions from 47 different departments at Syracuse University, including:

African American Studies (5); Anthropology (3); Art (22); Biology (7); Biomedical and Chemical Engineering (12); Business Administration (1); Chemistry (12); Child and Family Studies (1); Civil and Environmental Engineering (8); Communication and Rhetorical Studies (8); Communication Sciences and Disorders (3); Counseling and Human Services (3); Cultural Foundations of Education (5); Design (9); Earth Sciences (7); Economics (4); Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (14); English (2); Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (2); Exercise Science (1); Food Studies (1); Geography (5); Higher Education (1); History (2); Human Development and Family Science (3); Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics (4); Marriage and Family Therapy (2); Mass Communications (3); Mathematics (3); Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (10); Media Studies (5); Nutrition (1); Philosophy (2); Physics (10); Political Science (7); Psychology (17); Public Administration (4); Public Health (1); Public Relations (6); Reading and Language Arts (4); Religion (1); School of Information Studies (3); Social Sciences (2); Sociology (2); Teaching and Leadership (9); Tand the Writing Program (1).

During calendar year 2020:

  • 153 dissertations were submitted and their records are available at: https://surface.syr.edu/etd/.
  • 129 dissertations were submitted as Open Access (OA) publications, 83 of which are currently available for download on SURFACE. 46 additional dissertations will be available after an embargo period.
  • 24 additional dissertations were submitted but are only available by subscription through ProQuest; their records are available in SURFACE.
  • The OA rate for dissertations was approximately 84%.
  • 85 graduate theses were submitted and their records are available at https://surface.syr.edu/thesis/.
  • 74 theses were submitted as OA publications, 40 of which are currently available for download on SURFACE. 34 additional theses will be available after an embargo period.
  • 11 additional theses were submitted but are only available by subscription through ProQuest; their records are available in SURFACE.
  • The OA rate for theses was approximately 87%.
  • The overall OA rate for all dissertations and theses in 2020 was approximately 85%.

For additional or more detailed information, please contact the SURFACE team at surface@syr.edu.


Get a lift from documentary films on SU’s Wellness Days

By Michael Pasqualoni, Librarian for Newhouse School of Public Communications

Looking for some Wellness Day education and inspiration?  Consider one of these twelve film titles, available within SU Libraries online streaming video databases.  These are selected from the most recent three years of notable videos for adults, as honored annually by the American Library Association’s Film & Media Roundtable (FMRT).  The availability of closed captions (CC) and/or subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (SDH) is indicated below.

Buddy (2018, dir. Heddy Honigmann) 86 minutes. CC. Grasshopper Films. Dutch with English subtitles. Director Heddy Honigmann takes a poignant look at the power of six service dogs and how these animals make an impact on the lives of their owners.  Available at SU via Kanopy

Creem: America’s Only Rock N Roll Magazine (2020, dir. Scott Crawford) 75 minutes. Greenwich Entertainment. CC, SDH. Traces one of America’s iconic rock music magazines from its origin as an underground newspaper in Detroit though its rise to national prominence.  A portrait of the publisher, editors, musicians, and fans that made it happen, their long ambition, and sometimes short lives. Available at SU via Kanopy

Finding Kukan (2016, dir. Robin Lung) 75 minutes.  New Day Films.  A look at the life of Li Ling-Ai, the uncredited female film producer who co-produced Kukan, the 1942 Academy Award-winning documentary film on China that was lost for years.  Available at SU via Kanopy

Float (2020, dir. Phil Kibbe) 81 minutes. Grasshopper Films. CC. The F1D is a class of delicate, slow-flying, long-duration, rubber- powered model aircraft designed to be flown in a large indoor space. Those who build and fly these model aircraft are an increasing rarity. A glimpse into a little-known and ethereal sport. Available at SU via Academic Video Online

John Lewis: Good Trouble (2020, dir. Dawn Porter) 96 minutes. Magnolia Home Entertainment. CC. Tells the story of John Lewis, the late U.S. Congressman from Georgia, covering six decades of his activism inside and outside of elected office.  Conviction, kindness, and courage are hallmarks of his many contributions toward civil rights and social justice in the United States. Available at SU via Academic Video Online

Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (2018, dir. Tracy Heather Strain)  118 minutes.  California Newsreel.  A look at the life and work of Lorraine Hansberry, “A Raisin in the Sun” playwright and activist. Available at SU via Kanopy

Maiden (2019, dir. Alex Holmes) 97 minutes. Sony Pictures Classics. CC. Traces the inspirational story of the pioneering all-woman crew, led by 24-year-old Tracy Edwards, and their quest to compete in the 1989 Whitbread Around the World yacht race.  Available at SU via Academic Video Online

N. Scott Momaday: Words From A Bear (2019, dir. Jeffrey Palmer) 83 minutes. American Masters (PBS).  CC.  Pulitzer Prize-winner N. Scott Momaday’s poetry and writings have led to the renaissance of Native American literature. The film examines his life and uniquely captures the essence of Momaday’s work. Available at SU via Academic Video Online

Rebels on Pointe (2017, dir. Bobbi Jo Hart)  90 minutes.  Icarus Films.  Celebrate “the world’s foremost all-male comic ballet company” with a look into Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.  Shares the ups and downs of the professional and personal lives of this tight-knit troupe.  Available at SU via Docuseek2

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (2019, dir. Matt Wolf) 87 minutes. Zeitgeist Films. English with English subtitles. CC. Follows the quest of librarian and activist Marion Stokes to protect the truth by obsessively recording and archiving television broadcasts 24 hours a day from 1979 to 2012 in her Philadelphia home. Available at SU via Kanopy

The River and the Wall (2019, dir. Ben Masters) 97 minutes. Gravitas Ventures. CC. A stunning travel adventure across 1200 miles of the southern U.S. border as five friends journey on bicycle, horseback and canoe while exploring the terrains of land and policy beneath possible construction and contradictions of building a continuous border wall on the people and wildlife living nearby.  Available at SU via Academic Video Online

Rumble:  The Indians That Rocked the World (2017, dir. Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maoriana) 103 minutes.  Kino Lorber.  This film reveals the contributions of pioneering Native American musicians to popular music. Available at SU via Kanopy

Members of the Syracuse University community are also encouraged to nominate a documentary, educational, personal essay, how-to or performance art film you have viewed for future consideration, by visiting FMRT’s homepageSee that site for nomination criteria, a suggestion form to nominate titles, and lists of films selected over the years.  


The Digital Underground: A Discussion with Digital Library Program Core Team Member, Patrick Williams, on Open Scholarship, Collaboration, and the Future of Digital Humanities at SU

by Brittany Bertazon, Graduate Assistant for Digital Library Program

Interview conducted in September 2020.

Brittany: How did you come to assume your current role and where does it intersect with the Digital Library Program (DLP)?

Patrick: I joined the libraries about 11 years ago as a subject specialist librarian in the humanities departments and over the course of the last decade I have been involved in digital humanities both on campus and off. As our Digital Library Program developed, as well as other services, my role shifted into becoming the Lead Librarian for Digital and Open Scholarship. I still work with humanities departments, but I work beyond those departments in some of the digital scholarship modes and on publishing projects—the kind of work that is important to the Digital Library Program.

I see myself as a public facing side of the Digital Library Program, collaborating with folks in different departments, working on teams and committees with them. My favorite part of that work is being part of the core team of the Digital Library Program and working with the folks that are setting that vision. It is nice to have my perspective represented at the table and to hear from everyone else too.

The DLP Core Team includes members from a variety of Libraries’ departments, including Research and Scholarship, Library and Information Technology Services, and the Special Collections Research Center.

diagram of digital library core team
The DLP Core Team includes members from a variety of Libraries’ departments, including Research and Scholarship, Library and Information Technology Services, and the Special Collections Research Center.

Brittany: How long have you been a core team member of the DLP?

Patrick: The Digital Library Program (DLP) originated from a white paper.

When we originally started to develop the document for the DLP in 2016, I was assigned, along with members in special collections, to a section related to digital scholarship. We wrote that document as a library; there were representatives from all different departments.

I was a part of one of the focus teams that originally came up with some of the material that made its way into the final draft that we are still adapting today. Once the report was completed and accepted in its form, the DLP core team was founded. I was added to that team primarily because of the public side of my work and to provide connections to research and scholarship that is happening on campus. Also, to represent the outreach work that we are intending to accomplish with the DLP, ensuring the user needs and research being undertaken on this campus are reflected.

After we moved through that work, Déirdre Joyce [Head of the Digital Library Program] has been able to articulate this theoretical, conceptual model of digital stewardship and digital scholarship as two sides to the same coin.

“Digital stewardship is engaged in the preservation and presentation of materials, and digital scholarship is engaged in use and outreach. It has been really helpful on the core team to have those conversations where we are thinking about the complete lifecycle of materials. [At other institutions] the public side of things might not be a part of the conversation until later on in the process.”

Brittany: To what extent does collaboration occur among the DLP’s core team?

Patrick: The Digital Library Program is a collaborative endeavor. There is a lot of problem solving that we are doing together, working through issues by incorporating everybody’s expertise.

That means sometimes that we propose something, and we realize in ten minutes of talking that there is a better option. It could be that we are missing something or there are better choices we could be making. We are able to think through potential issues because we have a collaborative process. It is really nice to have multiple voices in that process as we are writing documentation. It speeds things up and means we are all paying attention to something at the same time rather than waiting until someone comes up with an issue or an opportunity that we did not foresee. The fact that we are having these conversations, both on a macro and micro level, as a team means the whole endeavor is collaborative.

The emphasis that Déirdre has put on cross-awareness within the Digital Library Program has been super helpful and keeps everyone plugged in. The fact that we connect over the different projects means that the group is paying attention in a way that is really productive.

Brittany: How does your individual workflow facilitate digital scholarship at SU?

Patrick: When I have something on campus that is a potential digital project, I have those conversations with patrons, faculty, and students. Before we get to the point of filling out a project request form or forming a narrative of the project, we think about what research questions we need to be asking and what ways we need to set expectations of what is possible with the people who are requesting. Most of my workflow performed independently is gathering information around those issues and then bringing it to the group to be discussed. It becomes a team effort from that point.

I am [also] in a position where I end up seeing and hearing from folks that might have digital projects in mind that are not necessarily originating from the library, which are things that we might want to look at, plan for, or reach out to people about.

Brittany: What kind of equipment or technology do you utilize most frequently?

Patrick: Email is the most indispensable tool for me. It is where we are able to flesh things out. In terms of projects and conversations, that is where my work takes place.

When we look beyond that at some of the digital scholarship work that we are doing, our workshops take place [using] resources that we are members of or subscribe to, like the HathiTrust Digital Library. Sometimes they take us into realms that involve external programming environments, tools, or external resources.

screen shot of Learn at SUL Digital Humanities Workshop
Since the time of this interview, digital humanities workshops have transitioned online. Patrick Williams (Humanities Librarian and Lead Librarian for Digital and Open Scholarship) and Zhiwei Wang (Masters Student in Data Science and Digital Humanities Graduate Student Employee) presented an Introduction to Text Mining with the HathiTrust Research Center on March 12, 2021. If you were not able to attend, there will be similar workshops offered in future.

Brittany: Do you have any student workers?

Patrick: I do! Zhiwei Wang is the Digital Humanities Graduate Student Employee. He has been indispensable in his technological abilities. Zhiwei is a master’s student in Data Science with a background in humanities computing issues and linguistics.

He is a really curious person and has helped us test drive our ideas to look at data sets with new eyes, introducing a sense of play and exploration into some of what we do which has been eye-opening for us. One thing that he is really excited about is when we have a dataset no one else has, locally important information, that he gets to look at. He thinks of interesting ways to present or dissect it. His presence has been transformative. He assists in our workshops, builds online materials, and has a knack for explaining complicated data science analysis processes to people that are new to it.

Brittany: What are your thoughts on the future of digital humanities on campus?

Patrick: We are seeing some mergers with different disciplines, as well as a more broad and interdisciplinary set of digital scholarship processes, services, skills, and products that are blurring those lines between the disciplines. This is really great because it encourages interdisciplinarity and it allows folks to share lessons across disciplines.

At Syracuse University, there is a real eagerness to engage in digital humanities work. A number of faculty on campus are working in that field and [that] attracts new faculty. A lot of [faculty] have some digital humanities skills and interests. There is a digital humanities integrated learning major, so undergraduates are getting involved on a personal and academic curricular level. I am excited to see where those students take their work and the rest of their careers.

woman and man standing side by side in library
Déirdre Joyce, Head of the Digital Library Program, and Patrick Williams, Humanities Librarian and Lead Librarian for Digital and Open Scholarship, pose together in Bird Library.

Lately, Déirdre Joyce and I have been a part of Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant for the New York Data Carpentry Library Consortium (NYDCLC). It means that we are well connected with our counterparts at other public libraries, school libraries, and university libraries. Specifically, University of Rochester, Colgate University, and Cornell University are also involved. The pandemic has slowed [us] a bit in our ability to put on events, but we have 15 librarians from these institutions that are trained on providing data carpentries training and [we’re] looking towards the spring for hosting events.

Note: Carpentry workshops are an excellent way for library and information professionals to improve a variety of digital and technological skills. At this time, most workshops are hosted virtually and free to students. Library Carpentry helps build software and data skills, creating more “effective and reproducible data and software practices.” Data Carpentry’s “focus is on the introductory computational skills needed for data management and analysis in all domains of research.”

“Academic research libraries have a long history of developing innovative services that promote scholarship and enable further collaboration,” said Scott Warren, Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, at Syracuse University Libraries. “Patrick and Déirdre’s work with other librarians across the state will improve the student and faculty experience for all our institutions.”

This year we have a plan to have a reading group across the multiple campuses [around] the book Data Feminism, authored by Lauren Klein and Catherine D’Ignazio. There are so many of these projects that some of us have been working on for multiple years. A lot of the work you must do in advance is in the background, behind the scenes, and to be having these conversations outside of this campus and across multiple campuses.

The groundbreaking 2020 work, Data Feminism, promotes “a new way of thinking about data science and data ethics that is informed by the ideas of intersectional feminism.”

graphic of book cover that reads Data Feminism
The groundbreaking 2020 work, Data Feminism, promotes “a new way of thinking about data science and data ethics that is informed by the ideas of intersectional feminism.”

NOTE: Data Feminism is currently being taught in the Digital Humanities graduate course at SU and the focal point of events between multiple campuses. So far this spring, three of the four cross-institutional, virtual reading discussions, sponsored by New York Data Carpentry Library Consortium (NYDCLC) and the Central New York Humanities Corridor, have already taken place.

Brittany: What is one thing no one ever knows that you do in your current role?

Patrick: I feel really fortunate to be in a position that has a certain amount of visibility. People know what I am up to and I am drawing on work from so many other parts of the library.

The thing that takes place most independent from my colleagues is the library instruction work I do, a lot of which involves teaching digital skills and digital humanities applications in classrooms that are not my own. For instance, I am going to a Spanish class or a drama class to use mapping technology, or I am doing text analysis with an African American studies class.

Brittany:  Has the DLP changed since you have been a part of it?

Patrick: We started on the DLP planning before Déirdre. She is a perfect person to be leading this because of her really great experience and ability to connect with folks all over the libraries. I see her influence to help us clarify what we are doing and build structure. As we moved towards projects and established the core team, her leadership and vision help guide the way we think and talk about the DLP. It is definitely evolving.

We are getting smarter about the approaches that are available. It has been great to not feel like [the work] was set in stone, and it could [be] adapted to the needs.

Déirdre and Suzanne Preate [Digital Initiatives Librarian] are really involved in the Digital Library Federation.Mike Dermody [Digital Preservation and Projects Coordinator] and Meg Mason [University Archivist] are involved in their respective [associations], and I am a part of [other associations]. To have all those ideas coming in from different professional communities has shaped [our work] as well. It is outstanding how much transparency we have into other organizations and how they approach these things.

Brittany: Any goals or changes you like to see in the future of the DLP?

Patrick: I think visibility is a big goal. I want the DLP to reach as many people as possible. We have both an internal campus audience and an external audience. I am really interested in getting the internal campus audience engaged in these projects.

“We have incredible collections and anything we do that draws attention to those collections is the goal. Sometimes I think it takes something being online or accessible for people to realize what kind of value it is and to use it digitally, as well as come into the libraries to ask questions that cannot be answered through digital means.”

I am excited about any attention [of] the rest of the world; I love the idea of the institution recognizing the libraries as a place for the production of knowledge as well as the access and organization of it. People will be really excited about the kind of work that is happening [and] being able to broaden the reach of [our] work [is] our goal.


The Digital Underground: Web Archives, Digital Exhibitions, and COVID-19; a Conversation with University Archivist, Meg Mason

by Brittany Bertazon, Graduate Assistant for Digital Library Program

2020 was Syracuse University’s sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary.  In the months leading to the official March 24th birthdate, monumental exhibitions, events, and resources were devoted to celebrating this historic milestone. Unfortunately, 2020 did not unfold as anyone could have imagined. The University closed its buildings abruptly just before the March jubilee due to the pandemic and remained physically closed for five months. The Special Collections Research Center Reading Room on the 6th floor of Bird Library, one of the sites where University Archives are physically accessed, has yet to fully reopen to students and the surrounding community.

In this installment of The Digital Underground Series, we revisit an interview with University Archivist, Meg Mason, held in September 2020.

zoom screen shot of two women

Brittany: How did COVID-19 impact your work?

Meg: It was unfortunate because we had one last big programming in March for the actual birthday of the University, March 24th. And we had a pop-up exhibition planned with everything ready to go. We had just printed out the item labels and then we shut down. What has happened [is] that people have suffered, and I want to acknowledge that…

sign that reads "Keep Your Social Distance" next to words "Documenting Covid-19 at Syracuse University"

We immediately started putting together a project for documenting the pandemic and the University’s response to it. We have been collecting content, mostly digital content, of the University’s official response, but we also wanted to get a sense of how students, faculty, and staff were responding individually. So, we worked with the Libraries’ Information Technology team to create an online portal in which anyone with an SU email can submit digital content that documents their own personal experience about the pandemic. Anything from working from home to an audio file to video to capturing social media content.

“We usually just wait for the materials to come to us. But [with] such a moment in history, we really wanted to see what we could get now, and we are not the only university or college doing this. It is very widespread. I learned a lot from other college and university archives, what their webpages are saying, and what they are collecting.”

Brittany: So, what does a typical day look like for you at this time?

Meg: [laughter ensues] I do not know if I really have a typical day, the last year hasn’t been very typical. Not just because it’s 2020, but also because we have been preparing for and engaged in the University sesquicentennial, so up until we were all sent home for the pandemic, it was all very hectic. I was heavily involved in programming for the sesquicentennial.

It is a variety of things; it depends on what is going on. I do a lot of collections management, communicate with donors, as well as work with campus offices to coordinate transfer of the records to the archives. I then do collections management where I deal with what’s going to happen with those collections, oversee processing of collections, creation of finding aids so that researchers can access them. Sometimes I answer reference questions. I also do instruction sessions and other programming, such as curating exhibitions.

Brittany: Quite a lot on your plate. How does your role contribute to the Digital Library Program (DLP)?

Meg: I was brought on less than a year after the DLP core team was created [in 2017]. I think it was recognized that there should be more than one staff member from the Special Collections Research Center on the team. Mike [Dermody, Digital Preservation and Projects Coordinator for SCRC] plays a different role in special collections, as well as on the team, than I do. I hold more of the collections management and curation stakeholder viewpoint.

Brittany: Is that the only area you focus on as a core member of the DLP? Do you ever explore and contribute to other areas within the team?

Meg: Basically, that is the area that I focus on. With digital projects, I have helped extensively with the project proposal process and testing it. I work with Deirdre Joyce [Head of the Digital Library Program] on that. [I also work on] creating digital exhibitions. I dabble a little in digital preservation in that I am looking at things like web capture and web archiving, though not as extensively as everyone else on the team. I need to move further into that field.

screenshot of Legacy of Leadership digital exhibition

Web capture of “A Legacy of Leadership: The Chancellors and Presidents of Syracuse University” exhibition, University Archives, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries. Curated by Vanessa St.Oegger-Menn, Pan Am 103 Archivist & Assistant University Archivist. 

[How are Syracuse University Libraries’ digital exhibitions accessed?

There are several ways to access the digital collections and projects. If you want to browse the collections to see what is available, you can do so through the Digital Collections website. Once you have selected a specific collection to view, you will be taken to an external site where the digitized material is housed.

Most people, however, come to view these collections by way of the Special Collections Research Center page. All online exhibitions can be found here.]

Brittany: What kind of equipment, technology, or software do you use most frequently?

Meg: Generally, the collections management software we use is Archivists’ Toolkit. I also use a software called Oxygen XML Editor for creating and editing finding aids in Encoded Archival Description (EAD), the XML standard for encoding finding aids.

I use Photoshop a lot because we share our images on social media. The archives have a Facebook page. We are trying to procure Archive-It [web archiving software].

“There is not a lot of awareness about digital preservation. Especially, web archiving. I don’t think people realize how important it is to capture what is online because it is so ephemeral. The last six months have been a fabulous example. I have seen the Covid-19 pandemic coverage on the SU’s website change sometimes daily. A lot of born-digital materials are now archival. It doesn’t have to be old for it to be historically valuable.”

Archive-It Logo

[Note: Since the time of this interview, Syracuse University has obtained Archive-It as the institutional web archiving platform in February 2021. Archivists actively and increasingly depend on web archiving tools or services for storage, open accessibility, and collaboration. Not only does Archive-It serve to maintain a record of the University’s web presence over time, but it also fulfills the institutional responsibility in digitally preserving web content of value while further facilitating scholarly research and use of web archives.]

Brittany: What is your favorite DLP project/plan/event/undertaking that you have done so far?

Meg: So far, it has been the digital exhibition for the 150 Years of Tradition at Syracuse University. It is the digital version of the sesquicentennial exhibition that I curated. We were using a new template, a new platform. It turned out really well. Suzanne [Preate, Digital Initiatives Librarian] did a lot of the work as well. I was able to create some documentation for my department on how to do it, so I felt that it was really successful. It went pretty smoothly.

Brittany: What, if any, additions would you implement to the DLP? What ideally would you recommend?

Meg: What we really need is more people. There are roles that need to be filled—from an extra project manager to a metadata librarian to a digital preservation librarian. These are things that we all dabble in, but we aren’t true experts, and we don’t have the bandwidth to fully fulfill those roles.  It is the reason I have had to turn down digital project proposals, even requests to participate in grant writing for a digital project. If we had a true fleshed-out team with the people, then, I think we could achieve amazing things.

Brittany: What about goals for the program?

Meg: It would be amazing to make [University Archives] collections available online. We have some really wonderful stuff. Implementing Quartex [digital asset management software – see previous blog post which discusses the acquisition of this platform] and transferring our digital content to Quartex has a lot of potential. Right now, University Archives has digital content, but we’ve held off putting it into the current platform because of logistical issues. I am hoping that with Quartex we can resolve those. We have photos digitized of old buildings on campus, wonderful things that I know not just our students and current Syracuse community but also alumni would absolutely love.

Brittany: When do you feel most fulfilled in your role?

Meg: I feel fulfilled in my role when I have a student employee who is interested in working in archives and I am giving that person real-world experience. So, teaching them how to process a collection, going through a box of new accessions (something new that was donated to us), and seeing with them what we have and how to preserve those materials. It’s interacting one-on-one with people about the collections.

Brittany: Do any of your student workers contribute to the DLP as you do?

Meg: Yes, they do. Student workers will sometimes assist with the ad hoc digitization stream by providing the metadata for that material. So, pre-pandemic when something was requested by a researcher or someone else from the outside to be digitized, it was pulled and handed over to our student workers who created the metadata for it and assigned it a file name, and then provided the information for the person who was going to do the digitization. So, they are an important part of our digitization process.

[Note: Student workers are an integral part of SU Libraries’ community and executing digital initiatives. The Special Collections Research Center on the 6th floor of Bird Library hosts an assortment of employment and internship opportunities, ranging in areas such as conservation, manuscripts processing, exhibitions, and public services. Check for current openings.]


Thematic Resources – A new section of the Architecture Research Guide page

by Barbara Opar, Librarian for Architecture

As we complete the first month of the semester, which happens to correspond to Black History month, we’ve added a new tab on the Architecture Research Guide entitled Thematic Resources. This tab includes information about books, databases, periodical articles and related media on a number of topics, beginning with African American architects and architecture, and including resources on diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

The University and individual schools have tried to bring forward relevant programming throughout Black History Month. Based on the number of our items in circulation, Syracuse University Libraries have also contributed. The Libraries’ relevant architecture resources are being discovered and used. So although you may not see them on display at the entrance to the King+King Architecture Library, they are listed in the Architecture Research Guide and our growing online book display.

In gathering resources for diversity, equity, and inclusion, we’ve noticed that our holdings on diversity and race are being used, but few items on individual architects are being checked out. Given our need to better understand the challenges African Americans have faced in the architecture profession, we’re excited to see an interest in the general topic but surprised there isn’t a corresponding interest in individual contribution and heritage.

For instance, I asked at least six different individuals looking at the book display in King+King Architecture Library if they knew anything about Paul Revere Williams and only one student was familiar with his work. Given that feedback, we changed the physical display slightly to include all our library holdings on Williams, who was a pioneer in the profession, earning his architectural license in 1921. Williams became known as ‘the architect to the stars’ and was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1957. In 2017, years after his death, he posthumously received the AIA Gold Medal.

In addition to Paul Williams, we plan to incorporate as many books and related materials as we can in the Architecture Research Guide and corresponding online display. Hopefully, this will trigger interest in the impressive work of these past and present trailblazers in the architectural profession.

As we strive to boost discoverability of our thematic holdings, we will also seek other ways to engage student, faculty, and staff in these collections. As always, we welcome your ideas.