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Thursday, March 28 • 1:30pm - 2:50pm
Strategic Collision: Innovative Teaching with Artists' Books

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Members of the special collections community have recently sought new and innovative ways to incorporate modern artists' books into the classroom setting. These unique creations are often viewed and perhaps even housed separately from more "traditional" rare books, but when viewed concurrently these two types of materials can increase an audience's understanding of each. For example, artists' books demonstrate the continued importance of the codex format in the age of digital books, while early printed books may contain graphical representations or design elements that contemporary viewers find surprising and distinctly modern.

This session will include three book arts-themed, lightning round presentations followed by a group discussion:

Sha Towers "Inciting Cross-arts Engagement through Integrated Curriculum Insights"
This lightning round presentation explores a cross-curricular experience created for a music composition course using book arts. Prior to a non-linear composition project, the class visited the library to engage with artist's books that focused on a variety of nonlinear aspects. Following their exploration, students shared their responses as to how their experience with these artists’ books differed from previous experiences with books. This integrated curriculum approach invited students to take what they learned in a new setting (book arts) and apply it to another setting (music composition). By creating a cross-curricular, active learning engagement, students were challenged to synthesize this experience and bring what they learned from an unfamiliar art form into their own creative work.

Kiana Jones "Activating Book Art for Students through World Art Themes and Examining the Art Library as a Site for Collecting, Preserving, and Curating Art"
Last fall, Fine Arts Librarian Kiana Jones collaborated with the University of Pittsburgh’s Intro to World Art professor and TAs to construct library hosted sessions that would introduce the 200+ students to acquisition and preservation practices, bridge the gap between the online catalog and artists’ books on display, and engage the students in visual analysis through a demonstration and graded worksheet. Visually analyzing and considering these books in the context of class themes and the art library as a site for collecting, preserving, and curating art, activated these books in ways that a simple “show-and-tell” presentation may not have, and further manifested the value of librarian/instructor collaboration.

Allison McCormack "Strategic Collision: Innovative Teaching with Artists' Books"
This lightning round presentation will show how two Baylor University librarians used artists’ books in a classroom session for a writing-intensive English course. The session not only had students view rare books (ranging in date from approximately 1390 to 1761) alongside artists’ books, but physically co-mingled the materials on tables. The arrangement highlighted similarities shared between the materials, including subject, format, and use of visual elements, that may not have been apparent had they been viewed separately. It also allowed students to make those connections for themselves, rather than necessitating that the librarians do this for them. The success of this session was demonstrated by the high level of dialogue sustained throughout the class as well as the astute observations these first-year students were able to make about books that may have had obscure meanings or were written in languages they did not read.

The discussion portion will focus on new ways to incorporate artists' books into the classroom and brainstorm some strategies for overcoming the challenges of doing so. For example, how can librarians reach out to academic departments that might not typically engage with artists' books? What pedagogical tools can be used to push class sessions beyond the usual show-and-tell format? How does viewing artists' books and other types of materials together change or enhance students' understanding of each format? The topics of discussion, crowdsourced from the group, will likely include some of the following: issues of space and security; finding connections between items that may be disparate in terms of date of creation, format, or content; and fostering active learning. Audience members are encouraged to come with an idea or specific problem they want to workshop.

Learning Objective
Attendees will learn about new ways they can use artists' books in the classroom.

avatar for Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter

Assistant Librarian and Art, Architecture, and Design Librarian, Indiana University
Passionate about information literacy, access services, artists' books, reference, and outreach.

avatar for Kiana Jones

Kiana Jones

Fine Arts Librarian, Frick Fine Arts Library - University of Pittsburgh
avatar for Allison McCormack

Allison McCormack

Original Cataloger for Special Collections, University of Utah
Allie is the Original Cataloger for Special Collections at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library, where she works with a wide variety of materials including medieval manuscripts, 19th-century photography collections, and modern artists’ books. She holds an M.A. in Medieval... Read More →
avatar for Sha Towers

Sha Towers

Associate Dean for Research & Engagement, Baylor University
I'm the co-moderator of the ARLIS/NA Book Art SIG, founder and curator of the Baylor Book Arts Collection, art librarian, theatre librarian, and associate dean for research & engagement for the Baylor University Libraries. I'm also the co-author of Liaison Engagement Success: A Practical... Read More →

Thursday March 28, 2019 1:30pm - 2:50pm MDT
Grand America Hotel: Venezia Garden Salon (1st Floor) 555 Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111