News, announcements, updates, and happenings in the UVA Library

Open Access Week postscript: The best of both worlds with Aperio and Diamond OA

By Molly Minturn | Fri, 11/03/2023 - 09:08

Guest post by Brandon Butler, the Library’s Director of Information Policy.

As a postscript to our pair of Open Access Week blog posts, the latter of which was focused on a critique of the commercialization of open access publishing, I wanted to put in a word for the affirmative agenda reflected in this year’s theme: community. As a community, the open access movement is working to identify and grow alternatives to commercial oligopoly in the open access publishing ecosystem. These alternatives can support peer review and the other benefits of traditional publishing without the myriad dysfunctions that have grown up around it over the last century. The Library’s open publishing imprint, Aperio, is an excellent example of the cutting edge in open access publishing, and hopefully a glimpse of its future.  

Last week I argued that open access per se (making one’s work freely available under an open license) is free to most academic authors, including all UVA authors, thanks to copyright law and free open repositories. Therefore, I argued, what you’re really paying for in those scenarios where a publisher charges you an ‘open access fee’ is a combination of the prestige associated with a particular journal title and the cost of operating that journal. With respect to commercial publishers, that cost includes elements that most authors would not likely support if they had a choice, like huge executive salaries and 30%+ profit margins. Unfortunately, authors often feel they don’t have a choice, due to the impact of journal placement on their career prospects. Reforming promotion and tenure to decouple advancement from journal placement would be a major step in the right direction. But it’s also important to develop publication models that provide the services authors and readers value without exploiting either group in the way that commercial publishers too often do. What does that look like?  

One example of an alternative that is free to both readers and authors is the “Diamond OA” model, where neither readers nor authors pay for publishing. To understand “Diamond OA,” it helps to understand a couple of the other color-codes used as a shorthand for different approaches to open access publishing. “Green OA” generally describes open access based on depositing your scholarship in an open repository like UVA’s Libra. Green OA can (and usually does) exist in parallel with publishing in a subscription/toll access journal; the author places their “post-print” in a repository, while the so-called version of record (with the publisher’s typesetting, pagination, etc.) is only available through a subscription. “Gold OA” describes open access where the publisher makes the final version freely available under an open license. While most “Gold OA” journals do not charge a fee to authors or their institutions, the most widely known Gold journals (and all commercially published ones) do, so “Gold OA” has become associated with this author-pays model. In recent years, “Diamond OA” has been the term used to describe the variety of approaches designed to remove price barriers for readers and authors alike. In a Diamond OA model, publishing infrastructure is operated (and funded) by universities, scholarly societies, or research funders.  

Venn diagram highlighting the different levels of open access in scholarly publishing, as a function of cost to the readers and authors, copyright retention, and peer review.
Venn diagram highlighting the different levels of open access in scholarly publishing, as a function of cost to the readers and authors, copyright retention, and peer review.

In the past, the value proposition of academic publishing has been seen through a simple two-sided paradigm that looked to either readers or authors (or their institutions on their behalf) as the sources of financial support for a journal. Readers would be willing to pay for access to knowledge in their field, or else authors would be willing to pay for access to venues where their work will be seen and valued in their field.  

For Diamond OA, the value proposition is more collective. The entity paying the cost of publication (and often hosting the journal) isn’t paying to read or publish any particular article; they are paying to support a community service that benefits the institution, the scholarly society, or the public. Diamond OA sponsors have a wide variety of reasons to do this, not least among them a desire to counteract the known downsides of the alternatives for researchers and their institutions. 

Our own Aperio Press is an example of a Diamond OA publisher. The UVA Library funds and operates Aperio, including the cost of publishing Aperio journals, as part of its commitment to sustainable scholarship. The Library is well-positioned to shop for publishing services, and the market for these services is much more transparent and competitive than the markets for journal subscriptions or article processing charges. For the cost of a couple of Nature article processing charges (literally two), we can publish dozens of articles per year in journals founded and operated by UVA scholars and make them available for free to the world. And because all Aperio journals must have a relationship to the University, supporting Aperio means supporting UVA scholars and scholarship. Establishing, managing, and editing a journal is important scholarly work, after all, and it is a wise investment to support that work directly. When you consider that the alternative is sending UVA editors out to find support from commercial actors who will turn around and erect price barriers against UVA readers, authors, or both, operating our own press becomes an even more obvious choice. Expanding this model throughout the scholarly ecosystem would free billions of dollars currently funneled to publisher oligopolies’ bottom lines to support actual research. 

Aperio welcomes proposals from UVA faculty, staff, and students wishing to start new OA journals or transfer existing journals. The latter may include flipping a journal to open. More details about Aperio service offerings and applications are available at Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by Aperio’s Faculty Advisory Board on a quarterly basis. Consultations with Aperio’s Managing Editor ( are highly recommended.  

Postscript to the postscript

As I was finishing this blog post, the open access funders’ group cOAlition S released a proposal for broad reforms to scholarly publishing. Nature (of all places …) has a good write-up of the proposal, contextualizing it and gathering comments from several scholarly publishing experts. Platforms like Aperio (along with our open repository suite, Libra) would fit right in with this vision, as they are free to both readers and authors, they respect authors’ rights, and they encourage the early and open sharing of scholarly works.

5 Books for Native American Heritage Month

By Molly Minturn | Wed, 11/01/2023 - 10:42

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, UVA Library recommends the following resources for insight into American Indian culture and history. The books and journals mentioned explore the wide variety of American Indigenous peoples and their contributions to what is now called the United States.

Thanks to Librarian for Collections Management and Video Resources Leigh Rockey, Librarian for History and Religious Studies Keith Weimer, and Reference Librarian Grace Hale for the recommendations below.

"Winter Counts" book coverWinter Counts” (Ecco, 2020)

From page one, “Winter Counts” by David Heska Wanbli Weiden drives hard into the genre of crime fiction while also commenting on the metanarrative of American identity. The author, a member of Sicangu Lakota Oyate, has crafted a gritty, vigorous story that can be consumed in one sitting — it’s that compelling. The action centers on Virgil, the hard man who takes on the messy stuff that nobody else wants to do, as he follows a lead from Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to Denver. Please note that this book contains descriptions of violence, references to sexual attacks, the death of a child, and drug use. –Leigh Rockey

"Being Indigenous" book cover. Includes image of men at a riverbank with row boats.Being Indigenous in Jim Crow Virginia: Powhatan People and the Color Line” (University of Oklahoma Press, 2022)

Post-Civil War/20th century white society’s fixation on a clear race-based divide created a complex reality for Native peoples, especially in Virginia, where the 1924 Racial Integrity Act included the infamous Pocahontas Exception. How did Indian communities fit together with whites’ construction of Black-white separateness? In “Being Indigenous in Jim Crow Virginia,” Laura J. Feller examines this question and more in her investigation of the extraordinary intersectional identities of tidewater Virginia’s American Indians. UVA Library’s own Regina Rush and her colleagues at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library helped the author with research. –Leigh Rockey

"Killers of the Flower Moon" book cover. Features an oil drilling rig against the backdrop of a full moon in a red sky.Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” (Doubleday, 2017)

“Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann, recently adapted as a film directed by Martin Scorsese, chronicles the murders of more than 60 Osage tribespeople between 1918 and 1931. As we now know, white Oklahomans plotted the killings of tribespeople (including their own spouses and children) to acquire headrights to oil. Even great wealth and the fact “that numerous Osage had skillfully invested their money” were insufficient to protect them from systematic predation in a society dominated by unsympathetic whites. Media attention did spark enough national outrage that the FBI investigated and, with difficulty, brought some of the perpetrators to justice. Despite the injustices, Osage tribal integrity and culture have proven resilient. –Keith Weimer

"The Rediscovery of America" book coverThe Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History” (Yale University Press, 2023)

Yale historian and member of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone, Ned Blackhawk reexamines the ways Indigenous groups have informed, responded to, and “reconstituted” modern America history in “The Rediscovery of America.” Beginning with pre-contact (pre-removal) maps and ending with analysis of the Termination Era (1953-1968) the book synthesizes both new and older scholarship into one volume, filling an ongoing critical need for historical and teaching works that contextualize the contributions of Native Americans beyond narrow Eurocentric conquest/settler narratives. –Grace Hale

The Sentence (Harper, 2021)

Cover image of "The Sentence." Background behind the title resembles a quilt.Louise Erdrich’s 2021 pandemic novel “The Sentence” is ostensibly about a haunting at a Minneapolis bookstore. The protagonist, Tookie, a Twin City area Ojibwe woman, invites the reader into a signature Erdrich worldview that knits together cooking, tongue-in-cheek comedy, history, philosophy, metaphysics, and Indigenous identity and politics.

Part one of the book introduces the down-and-out Tookie in a tragi-comic body heist, but part two quickly moves in a metafictional direction when Tookie is released from jail and begins to build a life that nourishes her. Tookie now works in the Minneapolis bookstore, Birchbark Books, for a woman named “Louise”— a bookstore that Louise Erdrich owns in real life. Birchbark provides a backdrop to the literary haunting at the center of the story, although the haunting is quickly secondary to questions about community and belonging — ranging from the mundane (what to eat) to the tragic (George Floyd’s murder), to the metaphysical (can one create a heaven for one’s partner )— explored through the lens of Tookie’s experiences and the bookstore cast. –Grace Hale

In addition: a few recent journal issues

Studies in American Indian Literatures

The latest issue contains essays about Native women authors trying to bust open the many myths surrounding Sacajawea and a reconsideration of “Winter in the Blood” by James Welch.

Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education

The news this fall concerning tribal colleges and universities includes the announcement of the first accredited Ph.D. program at a tribal college in the United States, the Doctor of Philosophy in Diné Culture and Language Sustainability at Navajo Tech in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.

NAIS: Journal of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association

The current issue offers a new translation of a letter sent from Timucua Native chiefs to the Spanish government in Florida in 1688. The letter is one of the oldest-known published texts in a Native language.

Open Access is Free, Actually

By Molly Minturn | Thu, 10/26/2023 - 09:38

Guest post by Brandon Butler, the Library’s Director of Information Policy.

Oopen Access Week banner

As we celebrate Open Access Week this week, and in particular as we reflect on the theme “Community over Commercialization,” the time is ripe for highlighting the difference between open access as a copyright choice, open access as a compliance step, and open access as a business model for commercial publishers. Seeing the difference between these three things can help us make clear-eyed choices about where and how to invest time, money, and social capital in support of this broad, multifaceted thing we call “open access.”

Open access as a copyright choice

Ordinarily, copyright requires that someone ask permission before sharing, adapting, or otherwise reusing in-copyright works (unless, of course, your use is a fair use). Open access as a copyright choice describes making your work available with an open license so that anyone can share and reuse it without any additional permission (typically subject to some basic conditions, like attribution). Publishers are often seen as the ones in charge of permissions, and the choice to assign an open license often takes place as part of an author’s interaction with a publisher, but there’s nothing in copyright law that requires things to work this way.

Indeed, unless an author transfers their rights (or grants an exclusive license), the power to grant permissions is entirely theirs from the moment a work is created. There are, of course, exceptions to this general rule: institutional policies, privacy concerns, and other issues can constrain author choices. But in general, any research product that could be published by a traditional publisher or posted to a public platform (which would require the author as copyright holder to grant the publisher or platform a license) can also be openly licensed (which is simply the author offering a license to the general public). Choosing and applying an open license involves some thought and a little bit of work, but it’s something that any academic author can manage fairly easily with a little help from an online tutorial. (I’m always happy to help, too, if UVA authors have questions about choosing a license. Just drop me a line.) In other words, open access as a copyright choice is free in both senses of the word: “free as in speech” because authors have the legal right to use open licenses, and “free as in beer” because there is no cost to do so.

Open access as a compliance step

Authors encounter open access as a compliance step when their work is subject to a policy that requires them to make it openly available. A high-profile example of such a policy is the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s bold plan to make all published results of federally funded research freely available to the public without delay. A crucial thing to understand about this plan is that funded researchers can comply with it simply by placing a copy of their published work in an agency-designated repository. Such repositories are almost certainly going to be operated by agencies themselves (like the enormously successful PubMedCentral repository hosted by the National Institutes of Health) or by universities (like our own LibraOpen). The same can be said of other policies that might impact researchers, such as university open access policies: compliance generally just requires depositing a copy in an open repository. These repositories are certainly not free for institutions and agencies to operate and support, but they are relatively affordable, and they are completely free to authors to use. So, here again there is no cost to researchers who need open access as a compliance step.

Open access as a business model for commercial publishers

Although these two fundamental elements of open access — assigning an open license and complying with open policies — are generally available to researchers at no cost to them, the mention of open access still leads most researchers to think immediately of paying a fee — often a hefty one. That’s because most researchers encounter open access as a business model for commercial publishers. And since we have seen that there is no cost to assign an open license and no cost to comply with open policies, it’s important to understand what you’re actually paying for when you buy “open access” from a commercial publisher. There are two main answers.

First, and most importantly from an author’s perspective, you’re getting the journal’s imprimatur on your research. Unfortunately, publishing in “high quality journals” is still seen as a sine qua non for career advancement in many fields. For decades the commercial publishers’ oligopoly control of these journals made it possible for them to squeeze eye-popping profit margins from library budgets in the form of extractive subscription fees. Using the “article processing charge” (APC) mechanism, publishers can run the same play against a group with even less bargaining power than libraries: authors. If having a particular journal listed on your CV is the difference between receiving tenure and having to find a new line of work, the price of admission to that journal could get very high, indeed, and authors would still feel compelled to pay. As the academic TikTok/YouTube persona Dr. Glaucomflecken has suggested (jokingly, of course), it’s a model that bears at least a passing resemblance to extortion. In any case, what you get for the money is not open access (remember, that’s free); it’s prestige. And when prestige has a price tag, inequity and predation are never far behind.

Second, and perhaps more generously to the publishers, you get the services that publishers generally describe themselves as providing: organizing peer review, copy editing, marketing and promotion and so on. In a toll access model, subscription fees cover the costs of these services; absent subscriptions, the publishers say, they must make their money from authors. But what is the real cost of publishing an article? Notoriously, peer reviewers are unpaid, as are authors. (Dr. Glaucomflecken has a great bit on this, too.) One study found that the actual cost of publishing a scholarly article likely ranges from $200-$1000 an article, with $400 as the average. Where does the rest of your APC go? Executives at the biggest publishers are paid very well, as are their shareholders, but it’s not clear why any academic author would be interested in subsidizing these payouts rather than hiring more research fellows or buying more equipment, all else equal. And it’s not clear that authors choose a publisher based on (rather than in spite of) the service they receive. Most authors don’t have the time or the market power to shop around. Because of the prestige factor described above, this is not a market where the price of the service is likely to bear much relationship to its cost or its quality. Indeed, the main driver of APC price appears to be market power.

Why we don’t pay individual article processing charges

As interest in open access grows at UVA, the Library has been asked more and more often about whether we have a fund to pay or subsidize individual APC fees as a way of supporting open access. We do not, and I hope understanding what I’ve just laid out about the three kinds of open access helps make clear why. Through copyright consultation and support for our open repository service, we can provide any UVA scholar with free, high-quality open access options. Collective deals (sometimes called “Read and Publish” deals) at least let us negotiate and pay below-retail fees on behalf of all UVA authors, and you can see the deals we have in place currently on our Writing and Publishing resources page. These deals have their risks and detractors, too, however, and we should be clear-eyed about the trade-offs involved in participating. As the open access landscape evolves, the Library will continue to pursue our strategy of supporting sustainable scholarship, including sustainable open access models.

How the Library supports open publishing

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Mon, 10/23/2023 - 09:25

This year’s theme for Open Access Week is “Community over Commercialization,” and it’s easy for those of us at the Library to understand the connection between community and the power of the dissemination of knowledge.  

Library communities have long sought to facilitate the sharing of knowledge — they lessen financial barriers, seek to understand their audiences, and encourage discovery and innovation. The UVA Library supports quite a few programs to this end, and aims to facilitate open publishing through tools, assistance, and the power of the academic community.

Specifically, the Library provides publishing platforms, specialty consultations and general assistance, and publisher arrangements that aim to ease broad access to academic material. You can read more about each of these below, and as you consider your own work we encourage you to contact us — we’re always happy to help.

Publishing platforms

Peer-reviewed open access press: Aperio

Aperio supports open access publishing of journals, monographs, open textbooks, and other educational resources. Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis and evaluated quarterly. Find out more about publishing with Aperio.

Institutional repository: Libra

Libra provides a stable, discoverable location for scholarship of all kinds. A perfect place for theses and dissertations, datasets, and journal articles, Libra ensures your work is discoverable in Virgo to the UVA community and beyond. Find out more about publishing with Libra.

Platform for open educational resources: Pressbooks

Pressbooks is online software used by authors, publishers, and educational institutions around the world, to create easy-to-access text material. Books hosted in Pressbooks are usable on devices of any kind and accessible from anywhere. Find out more about publishing with Pressbooks.  

Copyright reference and consultation

Copyright law relates to scholarly and creative works in a number of ways, whether you’re reusing existing material or considering how best to steward your own work. The Library offers online reference about copyright and its intersection with scholarship, in addition to housing deep expertise from Library staff. Email to request a consultation, or visit Copyright Essentials for Scholarly Work to get started.

Publisher arrangements for open access subsidies

The UVA Library, alongside VIVA (Virginia’s academic library consortium), has negotiated arrangements with a number of publishers to subsidize costs associated with open access publishing. Those relationships currently include the Association of Computing Machinery, Cambridge University Press, Electrochemical Society, International Water Association, Open Library of the Humanities, Rockefeller University Press, Royal Society of Chemistry, and Wiley. To learn more, review details of each arrangement or contact a subject liaison to help identify the best opportunity for your work. 

At the heart of the Library

The tools above and more are covered on the Library’s website, and the Library’s offerings continue to evolve as the publishing world changes.

For help getting started, reach out to or Ask a Librarian — the power of UVA’s Library community just might get your work exactly where it needs to be.

Five contemporary artists featured in Harlem Renaissance exhibition

By Molly Minturn | Tue, 10/17/2023 - 13:20

The University of Virginia Library’s major new exhibition: “Their World As Big As They Made It: Looking Back at the Harlem Renaissance” is in full swing. Located in the Main Gallery of the Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library, the exhibition opened in September to a packed house and has garnered attention for featuring some of “the Harlem Renaissance’s most popular magazines, manuscripts and original dust jackets of major works, and even some of the period’s fashions.”

The exhibition’s title is inspired by the Georgia Douglas Johnson poem, “Your World,” in which she looks back at the creativity of the Harlem Renaissance, acknowledges the hardships of being an emerging artist, and beckons a new generation of Black artists, writers, poets, publishers, and other creatives with the line: “Your world is as big as you make it.”

In that spirit, Library curators put out a call this past summer for contemporary artists to create works that would explore or respond to poems by Harlem Renaissance authors (curators selected nine poems for artists to choose from by writers including Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Helene Johnson, and of course, Georgia Douglas Johnson). This project, titled “As Big as We Make It!” was sponsored by a grant from the UVA Arts Council.

The selection committee members – Tamika L. Carey, UVA Associate Professor of English; MaKshya Tolbert, a third-year MFA student at UVA; and Maurice Wallace, a professor of English at Rutgers University-New Brunswick – selected five contemporary artists with connections to UVA and Charlottesville to showcase their work in the exhibition. Read more about them below.

Abreale Hopkins, “Above the Heights”

Left: a canvas with shades of black and a tear through the middle. Right: A person with short hair, dyed blue, smiles at the camera.

Abreale Hopkins hails from Maryland and now resides in Brooklyn, New York. She received her B.A. from UVA in African American Studies and painting. Hopkins’ work has been shown at the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, Ruffin Gallery, and in private collections.

Her painting, “Above the Heights,” is paired with Arna Bontemps’ 1924 poem Hope.In her artist statement, Hopkins writes: “Arna Bontemps describes hopelessness as an environment with an all-consuming, daunting energy that weighs heavily on one’s chest. This painting is a display of that purgatory filled by stillness, melancholy, and despair. Shades of grey build upon each other to create a clouded abyss that extends further away as you look. Bontemps reminds us that hope both strikes through our lives with a ferociousness that calls for action, and exists as a quiet idea waiting to catch our attention. … Hope flashes from above, tearing through the seemingly never-ending abyss. The rip running through the canvas is a physical depiction of hopelessness’ impermanence and fragility. The tear’s assertiveness forces your eyes and mind out of the haze, urging you to imagine a different existence.”

Tobiah Mundt, “Of Rivers”

Left: A painting shows two empty hands, palms up, surrounded by paint reminiscent of black and red rivers or trees. Right: A person with curly hair looks at the camera

Tobiah Mundt is a self-taught fiber artist from Houston, Texas. She studied architecture at Howard University and eventually left the field of architecture for sculpture. She uses rug tufting, wet felting, and needle felting techniques to sculpt abstract and figurative pieces centered on ancestry and symbolism. A New City Arts Initiative Fellow and former Artist Residence at the Bridge PAI in Charlottesville, her work has been exhibited in Texas, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., and is in private and corporate collections locally and nationally.

Mundt’s tufted and needle-felted layered tapestry, “Of Rivers” connects with and responds to the poem, “The Negro Speaks of Riversby Langston Hughes. Mundt writes: “The tapestry illustrates African American lineage and connection to the world through the four great rivers mentioned in Hughes’ poem. It further represents the African American’s claim to a future place in the world. … The main image on the tapestry is a black hand and forearm in the style of a linocut. The lines of the Nile, Congo, Euphrates, and Mississippi rivers are drawn with wool from the bottom of the forearm onto the palm and out through the fingertips to the top right of the tapestry. The top right of the tapestry is orange-red to represent a bright African American future. The four corners of the piece tell abstract stories of an African American past, present, and futures.”

Valencia Robin, “Dear Georgia”

Left: A painting with color blocks and circles and Xs. Right: A person in a blue shirt smiles at the camera.

Valencia Robin’s interdisciplinary practice includes poetry, painting, and sculpture. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Emily Clark Balch Prize, a Margaret Towsley Fellowship, a King-Chavez-Parks Fellowship, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem and the Furious Flower Poetry Center, she holds an M.F.A. in art & design from the University of Michigan and an M.F.A. in creative writing from UVA. Her work has been exhibited nationally and includes a two-person show at Charlottesville’s New City Arts and a solo show at Second Street Gallery. She currently lives and teaches in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Robin’s painting “Dear Georgia” is inspired by Georgia Douglas Johnson’s poem “Calling Dreams.” Robin writes: “My paintings are visual poems, metaphors for capturing my inter- actions with myself and the world. In this sense, I’m both an abstract and representational painter. Like a poem, they reach for the ineffable, try to make it legible.”

Lisa Woolfork, “Three Dark Girls, Loved”

Left: Art incorporates drawings of three little girls with pictures of those girls and sewn textiles. Right: A woman with purple earrings and curly hair smiles at the camera

Sewing and quilting are powerful tools for Black resistance, recreation, and rest, as well as storytelling and social justice. As the founder of Black Women Stitch, “the sewing group where Black lives matter,” and the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing, Lisa Woolfork is committed to using her art practice and social platforms to foster greater understanding, creative expression, liberation, and connection in our communities.

In her artist statement Woolfork writes: “Three abstract figures occupy the center of the design and are superimposed by appliqué on top of a photorealistic fabric foundation of the same image. The quilt border is a textile adaptation in honor of Zora Neale Hurston, as seen in the print’s use of notebook and ledger paper as well as in the bounding white lines arcing over organic circles. This line refers to a sentence from Hurston’s autobiography, where her mother encouraged her to “Jump at the sun.” The piece engages with the first four lines of Gwendolyn Bennett’s poem, “To a Dark Girl.” The quilted scene freezes the girls in a moment prior to awareness of anti-Blackness. It is a moment in time when they were three dark girls, loved. The image is a childhood Polaroid of myself with my sisters wearing dresses made by our grandmother. I am delighted to bring this cherished memory to this exhibit.”

Kemi Layeni, “To Be A Black Girl”

Left: a photograph shows a woman holding a baby. A man stands in the foreground, and they are all watching something off screen. Right: A woman with large artistic earrings sits in front of a red background, looking to the side.

Kemi Layeni is an artist, writer, educator, and M.F.A. Candidate at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program. She works in the mediums of film, photography, and installation art. Her work explores the intersections of history and its burden on the present, Black womanhood, and the experiences of Black people throughout the diaspora. When Kemi is not working on her art, she spends her time working with teenagers in her school and community in performing arts and writing.

Of her multimedia piece, Layeni writes: “In Gwendolyn Bennett’s “To a Dark Girl,” the speaker of the poem’s purpose is to uplift Black girls and women. This piece incorporates voiceover, music, and photos of myself, the artist, from my childhood to adolescence. I chose to start and end with photos of my mother and I to mirror the same relationship of the speaker of the poem and their audience. I chose photos from my adolescence, a time where I was deeply insecure and convinced I was anything but valuable and beautiful, and juxtaposed them with the poem. The piece goes from an imagined mother speaking to a daughter with the words of the poem, to that same daughter speaking to herself, while exploring Black girlhood.”

To see these works in person, visit the main gallery of the Special Collections Library, open weekdays and Saturday afternoons. Or attend our Final Friday event on April 26, 2024, for an open house-style celebration featuring gallery talks by exhibition curators. 

Podcasts, books, and films for National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Molly Minturn | Wed, 10/11/2023 - 15:42

Guest post by Erin Pappas, Librarian for the Humanities; Leigh Rockey, Video Collections Librarian; and Amanda Wyatt Visconti, co-director of the Scholars’ Lab.

Observed each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities past and present and showcases supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices that benefit employers and employees. The U.S. government’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has chosen “Advancing Access and Equity” as the theme for NDEAM 2023. (NDEAM en español.)

Below, check out books, films, podcasts, and other resources we recommend, available through UVA Library or for free on the internet.

First, from Amanda Wyatt Visconti, co-director of the Scholars’ Lab:

Banner for the Job Accomodation NetworkThe Job Accommodation Network

The Job Accommodation Network’s free filterable collection of ideas for improving job accessibility is really useful in adapting your work or learning environment for what helps you do your work well and in a way that doesn’t hurt your health. I’ve used it to discover things that have helped me personally, found language to effectively ask an employer or teachers to provide an accommodation, and also shared with colleagues as an alternative or addition to the formal HR accommodation process.

"All the Things" podcast logo (black letters against a yellow background).All the Things ADHD podcast

The free All the Things ADHD podcast is helpful and fun, even for folks who aren’t professional women and/or don’t have ADHD — lots of the approaches and tools discussed are broadly useful! This podcast is “a resource for professional women who have been diagnosed later in life with ADHD (like [the hosts]) and the people who love them and are seeking to better understand them. ... The hosts, Lee Skallerup Bessette and Aimée Morrison, both have Ph.D.s, are both considered professionally successful, and yet embraced their diagnoses that came in their 40s. The podcast will address the stereotypes, stigmas, societal pressures, and systemic forces that shape the narrative around ADHD, as well as practical tips and advice for getting along with ADHD.”


Next, from Erin Pappas, Librarian for the Humanities:

A child sits at a desk holding a pencil and staring at a piece of paper.“The Disruptors”

The 2022 film “The Disruptors” takes a closer look at  both historical figures who exhibited symptoms associated with ADHD, such as Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Andrew Carnegie, but also with well-known figures from the worlds of entertainment, sports, and business who have ADHD. These individuals include Paris Hilton, Scott Kelly (a former NASA astronaut), Howie Mandel, David Neeleman (founder of JetBlue and Breeze Airways), Michelle Carter (a three-time Olympian), and NFL legend Terry Bradshaw. Through their personal stories, the film illustrates how these real-life role models conquered challenges related to ADHD on their path to remarkable success.

Book cover: An unfurling stack of paper with "Reader's Block" title.“Reader’s Block: A History of Reading Differences”

In “Reader’s Block: A History of Reading Differences,” Matthew Rubery explores the diverse meanings of “reading.” He shares stories of individuals with conditions like dyslexia, hyperlexia, and synesthesia, showing how neurodiversity impacts reading. Rubery challenges our conventional understanding of reading, presenting it as a spectrum of activities rather than a single definition. The book draws on various sources, highlighting how cognitive differences shape reading experiences. You can read it in any way you prefer, just as there’s no one right way to read.


And finally, from Leigh Rockey, Video Collections Librarian:

"Lived Experiences" book cover (title with abstract, colored cloud background).“Lived Experiences of Ableism in Academia: Strategies for Inclusion in Higher Education”

While most of its writers live and work in the United Kingdon, the book “Lived Experiences of Ableism in Academia: Strategies for Inclusion in Higher Education” easily applies to academics of all nations. Institutions of higher learning can be cold, demanding, and unforgiving drivers of achievement. Failure to thrive is often seen as a personal, individual deficiency of talent, intelligence, or stamina — and academia is rarely considerate of people who are not typically able-bodied and able-minded. The engaging (and mostly free of academic jargon) essays in this book depict and then offer ways to solve the problems faced by those in academia who have disabilities, from visual impairment to the autism spectrum to dyslexia to depression. Ultimately, disabled, ill, and/or neurodivergent students, faculty, and staff embody the real narrative of accomplishment and excellence to which all of higher education aspires.

A shirtless man against a black background stares at the camera.“My Name is Daniel”

Through home movies and personal revelations, the Brazilian filmmaker Daniel Goncalves invites us into his life and his disability in “My Name Is Daniel.” The film revolves around diagnosing Goncalves while depicting his home, family, youthful longings, and present-day situation. Goncalves lets scenes play out so the viewer can appreciate the patience and persistence required to live with his as-yet-unlabeled physical differences. Watching him make eggs using his match-lit stove becomes uncomfortable until Goncalves himself makes us laugh with one word. Even with his difficulties on display, he is exactly like everybody (disabled or otherwise) watching him. As a working filmmaker, he turns his life into art, and the viewer appreciates this gift.


October 11 is National Coming Out Day!

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Tue, 10/10/2023 - 09:59

National Coming Out Day began in 1988 and is celebrated on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It was created as a proactively positive holiday to embrace the LGBTQ+ community and boost its visibility in our day-to-day life. National Coming Out Day is also celebrated in the United Kingdom and a number of other countries.

At the University of Virginia Library, we’re so proud to have members of the LGBTQ+ community as patrons, staff, visitors, researchers, faculty, students, and more. Working to create welcoming spaces for all people is a deeply ingrained value at the UVA Library, and we appreciate all of those who help us move toward that vision.

A Library for allBelow are some LGBTQ+ resources you can find in the Library’s collections to deepen your knowledge, your understanding, and your research.

  • Archives of Sexuality and Gender: A collection of primary sources documenting how views of sex, sexuality, and gender have changed from the 16th century to the present. The archive’s oral history transcripts, diaries, and letters provide a deeply personal and human interpretation of the LGBTQ experience.
  • LGBTQ+ Source: Scholarly and popular LGBTQ+ publications in full text, plus historically important primary sources, including monographs, magazines, and newspapers. It also includes a specialized thesaurus containing thousands of terms. Search LGBTQ+ Source here.
  • Queer Pasts: A collection of primary source exhibits for students and scholars of queer history and culture. The database uses “queer” in its broadest and most inclusive sense, to embrace topics that are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender and to include work on sexual and gender formations that are queer but not necessarily LGBTQ.
  • Celebrate Pride all year round with recommended books, podcasts, and movies from UVA librarians: 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Whether you’re navigating your own coming-out journey, or wanting to support others, here are some external resources to learn more and find a helping hand.

From UVA’s LGBTQ Center:

“Coming out can be a complex and challenging processthe LGBTQ Center and our on-Grounds partners are here to support you. There is no one right way to come out. It’s a lifelong process of being ever-more open and true with yourself and othersdone in your own way and in your own time.”

Learn more about resources and communities at UVA’s LGBTQ Center.

From the Human Rights Campaign:

“Sharing our authentic selves with others is not always safe or easy, and it is not a one-day event — but when possible, it can be an extraordinarily powerful key to breaking down the barriers we face as LGBTQ+ people.”

Learn more from Human Rights Campaign.

Happy National Coming Out Day! Wednesday, October 11


From Dracula to Steampunk: 5 unique events at UVA Library

By Molly Minturn | Fri, 10/06/2023 - 10:14

Sure, you can visit the University of Virginia Library to borrow books (we have more than 5 million of them!), to find a cozy study space, or even to use a 3-D printer, but did you know we offer events ranging from workshops to gallery talks for UVA and the Charlottesville community throughout the year?

Below, check out five upcoming events for those who love art, crafting, cosplay, and Halloween. All Library events are free.

Dracula event banner 1. Dracula Daily: An evening with author Matt Kirkland

On Monday, October 9, the UVA Library will host Matt Kirkland, author of “Dracula Daily,” in the Harrison/Small Auditorium. Kirkland will sign copies of his new publication (books will be available for sale) and talk about the creation and evolution of the “Dracula Daily project, which started out as a wildly popular email newsletter. Visitors will have the opportunity to interact with Kirkland and explore the history of Dracula in print. Refreshments will be served, jack-o’-lanterns will be on display, and vampire-themed costumes are encouraged.

  • When: Monday, Oct. 9; 6 – 7:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
  • Where: Harrison/Small Auditorium
  • Registration is required: Register on Eventbrite here.

Book safe photo 2. Make a Book Safe Workshop

Bring an old book to hollow out and turn into a safe place to store your valuables! A limited number of books will be available; all other tools will be provided. No experience is needed. It only takes an hour to make a safe, so you won’t need to stay for the whole workshop time. Registration is required.

Halloween craft with glowing eyes 3. Halloween Maker Craft Workshops

The Scholars’ Lab TinkerTank is offering workshops during the week before Halloween (and on Halloween Day) to drop in and create a light-up craft. Participants can also use our button makers, sewing machines, CNC paper cutter, and electronics to make Halloween costumes, decorations, and decor. All supplies are included, all for free!

  • When: Oct. 24-27, Oct. 29-31; 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. each day
  • Where: Scholars’ Lab TinkerTank (Clemons, third Floor)
  • Registration is required; individual workshop calendar listings below.
    10/24, 10/25, 10/26, 10/27, 10/29, 10/30, 10/31

Harlem Renaissance exhibition banner 4. Final Friday — Their World As Big As They Made It

Join us for a Final Friday celebration of our new exhibitions, including “Their World As Big As They Made It: Looking Back at the Harlem Renaissance,” which features the visionary works of writers, artists, and thinkers whose creative and intellectual pursuits reflected the diversity of discourses that defined Black American identity and political consciousness in the early 20th century.

Five artists with connections to UVA and Charlottesville have works on display as part of our “As Big As You Make It!” project (supported by a grant from the UVA Arts Council), connecting artists working today to Harlem Renaissance poetry from a century ago. 

This is a free event and an open house-style celebration. Gallery talks are slated for the following times: 

6:15 - Main Gallery - Their World As Big As They Made It with curators Krystal Appiah and George Riser
6:30 - First Floor Gallery - Out of the Box, On the Wall: Russell Smith’s University of Virginia from the Toll Gate with curator Garth Anderson
6:45 - First Floor Gallery - Portrait of a Poet—Revisited: William Edward West’s Percy Bysshe Shelley with curator Annyston Pennington

Steampunk workshop photo 5. Steampunk Cosplay Workshop

Do you have a great Steampunk cosplay or Halloween costume in mind? Need some motivation and materials? Come to the TinkerTank Makerspace for an in-person workshop to make a leather and brass light-up wrist cuff, or use the materials to make your own costume accessory! All materials are provided. This is an open workshop; feel free to come and go whenever you can.

For more events, check out the UVA Library Calendar.

New exhibition looks at UVA through a ‘picturesque’ lens

By Molly Minturn | Mon, 10/02/2023 - 16:15

In June 1844, landscape painter Russell Smith traveled from Philadelphia to Virginia on a hot, dusty train to meet up with geologist William Barton Rogers, a professor of natural philosophy at the University of Virginia. Smith joined Rogers to work as an illustrator for the next phase of the Geological Survey of Virginia, which studied and mapped the commonwealth’s mineral resources. What emerged from that friendship is the subject of a new exhibition now open in the First Floor Gallery of UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

A banner for the “Out of the Drawer & On the Wall: Russell Smith’s University of Virginia From the Toll Gate” exhibition.


“Out of the Drawer & On the Wall: Russell Smith’s University of Virginia From the Toll Gatesheds new light on a painting by Smith that captures the Academical Village from a unique vantage point. Garth Anderson, a Facilities Historian in UVA Facilities Management’s Geospatial Engineering Services, curated the exhibition. Anderson said he found out about Russell Smith’s “University of Virginia From the Toll Gate” painting, long held but rarely seen in the Library’s collections, on a tip from Stephen Thompson, then a principal investigator at Rivanna Archaeology.

“I wasn’t too sure what the work was going to be — whether it was a photograph of a painting or what,” Anderson said. “And lo and behold, it was the real painting, and it was something totally different, something that if it had been out and around, would have been noted before.”

Smith’s painting captures the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with a toll gate and rustic house in the foreground. Far off in the hazy distance, just beneath the mountains, the dome of the Rotunda is in view. “I took some photographs of [the painting] and showed it to a few people, but nobody recognized that view,” Anderson said. “It was looking at the University in a new way.”

Painting of a cottage and gate with mountains in the background. Far off in the distance to the right can be seen UVA's Rotunda
Russell Smith’s “University of Virginia From the Toll Gate” (1844).

The University as ‘pure landscape’

Smith, a Scottish-born painter who immigrated to Pennsylvania at a young age, made the acquaintance of artists like Rembrandt Peale and John Sartain in Philadelphia. He devoted much of his time to landscape painting in the picturesque style — “an aesthetic ideal that, in the words of influential travel writer and artist Reverend William Gilpin, highlighted ‘that peculiar kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture,’” according to the exhibition text.

To support his travels to paint landscapes, Smith worked as an illustrator for a state-funded geological expedition in Pennsylvania. (He also traveled to New Hampshire to paint the White Mountains; a current exhibit at the Fralin Musuem of Art examines similar idyllic landscapes from this time.) Through this type of work, Smith eventually met UVA’s geologist William Barton Rogers and joined him in June 1844 to illustrate aspects of the Geological Survey of Virginia.

Smith made notes of his trip to Virginia in a brown leather-bound journal, which is held in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution. Anderson “made a pilgrimage” there, researching and documenting the journal entries to capture a clear picture of Smith’s travels in Charlottesville. Many of those entries are highlighted in the exhibition and show that inspiration for his toll gate painting came on Smith’s first walk with Rogers to a site on the Rockfish Gap Turnpike overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains:

Shortly after arriving at the University Mr. Rogers took me out a few miles west. The sun was setting and I was forcibly struck with superior picturesque beauty of the Blue Ridge to any of the Penna. Mountains. Its elevation also appears greater and the jutting spurs that run out to the east with the gently scooped valley give it a most charming effect.

Smith returned to the site [which today is the Old Ivy Road entrance to the Miller Center] to determine the best time of day to compose a sketch. On July 4, he wrote:

Walked out two miles after breakfast to the West. Made those sketches and retouched them before dinner. I find the grey cards do not answer so well for colour as for light shading with the pencil being afterwards set with water and a few lights put on.

The subject of one of these sketches — a toll gate is fine for light and shade. The small house is covered entirely with a trumpet vine very dark and opposing the light which is behind.

For the exhibition, Anderson tracked down Smith’s original sketch of the toll gate, which is held at the Library of Virginia. Comparing the sketch to the final painting, Anderson spotted differences in the works. As he wrote in the exhibition copy, “At first glance, Smith’s initial sketch and final painting are very similar. However, upon closer review, you notice differences in the sizes of the Rotunda, Monticello, and Montalto relative to the tollhouse in the foreground as well as the addition of a vast swath of greenspace.” These differences, he said, show Smith’s ability to “compose and manipulate the natural landscapes he observed into picturesque forms.”

Anderson, who has worked for UVA for 39 years, has an academic background in biomedical science, but has spent much of his career creating a database for all UVA-related architectural and engineering drawings held by Facilities Management. He digitized the collection, and researched the architects who began a major expansion of the Academical Village, starting with McKim, Mead, & White, as well as who approved those plans, leading to extensive work in Special Collections. He contributed research to Richard Guy Wilson and Sara Butler’s “The Campus Guide: University of Virginia,” a seminal guide to the history and architecture of UVA, as well as to a major 2010 Library exhibition “From Village to Grounds: Architecture After Jefferson at the University of Virginia,” part of the UVA’s celebration of the centennial of Carr’s Hill.

As for “Out of the Drawer & On the Wall,” Anderson hopes viewers will come away with a new, somewhat idealized view of UVA, one that is vastly different from the tidy Lawn. “The University can look beautiful in the landscape,” he said. “To me, that’s the really the charm of it; it’s such a pure landscape. I love that.”

“Out of the Drawer & On the Wall: Russell Smith’s University of Virginia From the Toll Gate is on view through Nov. 5, 2023 in the First Floor Gallery of the Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library.

Four facts about the main library, reopening in January

By Molly Minturn | Mon, 09/25/2023 - 16:26
A large brick building seen from above.
A recent photo of the main library under renovation, viewed from the northwest. Here, the new clerestory can be seen on the roof, and construction is underway on the stairs and terrace that will lead to the new north entrance to the building. (Photo by Skanska)

The University of Virginia Library is pleased to announce that its main library renovation project that began in early 2020 is set to be completed by the end of the fall 2023 semester. The renovation will bring the building up to current standards of safety, accessibility, and service and result in beautiful, naturally lit study and research spaces.

Read on for four facts about the reopening.

1. The main library opens to the public on Jan. 8, 2024.

The building will not be open to visitors before then, but we’ll be excited to kick off the spring semester in January.

2. A grand opening celebration will be held in the main library on April 4, 2024.

Details about the event are forthcoming.

3. Books will be moved back into the main library starting in December 2023.

This process, which starts at Clemons Library and Ivy Stacks, where the books are currently shelved, involves more than a dozen Library staff members and more than a million printed books. The full book move will take about six months.

4. The renovated library will feature modern amenities suited to the needs of its users.

Benefits of renovation include:

  • An updated and expanded south entrance, a new highly accessible north entrance, and a new easy connector between Clemons and main on the second floor.
  • A new café near the north entrance that will provide refreshments and additional space for the University community to gather.
  • Better use of space to improve wayfinding and offer a variety of environments for study, research, and social interaction.
  • Better facilities for the ongoing conservation and preservation of the print collections.

For more about the main library, check out our new video tour of the renovation in progress with Kit Meyer of UVA Facilities Management.