There are only a few more weeks to catch “Visions of Progress: Portraits of Dignity, Style, and Racial Uplift,” UVA Library’s vibrant exhibition that showcases portraits that African Americans in central Virginia commissioned from the Holsinger Studio during the first decades of the 20th century. Curated by UVA associate professor of history John Edwin Mason, the exhibition has garnered national media attention and drawn thousands of visitors to the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. It closes on June 24.
To celebrate the exhibition’s final weeks, join UVA Library and the Holsinger Studio Portrait Project at a Family Day celebration on June 11 from 1-4 p.m., located in the Small Special Collections Library. Supported by a grant from the Jefferson Trust, Family Day activities include:
- Tintype portraits by Richmond-based photographer Em White: Registration via Eventbrite required; reservations open today (Monday, June 5) at noon.
- A portrait studio printing post-modern cartes-de-visite (popular 19th-century calling cards) in the exhibition’s Main Gallery.
- A Historic Clothing Collection show-and-tell from 1-3 p.m. with Collection Manager [HJP(1] Marcy Linton, featuring garments from the Holsinger Studio era.
- A visit from the Free Book Bus from 1-3 p.m. at 170 McCormick Road.
- Storytime readings from local celebrities (including musicians and newscasters), featuring books about photography and portraiture.
- A “Zine Jam” workshop for tweens and teens with “Women Making Books” curator Annyston Pennington. Cut, paste, write, and create to make your own zine. (“Women Making Books,” located in the First Floor Gallery in the Small Special Collections Library, closes June 11.)
- Snacks, make your own portrait, Holsinger Studio coloring books, and more!
- Free parking in the Central Grounds Garage all day.
“It’s going to be hard to close and deinstall ‘Visions of Progress’ — there has been so much community interest and a steady flow of visitors and joy in our gallery,” said Holly Robertson, Curator of University Library Exhibitions. “We want to end on a high note, and we hope families will bring their kids to experience the exhibition as portrait sitters. And we hope everyone walks away with a sense of pride and understanding when thinking about the Black portrait sitters at the Holsinger Studio one hundred years ago.”
What’s next for UVA Library’s exhibition program? “It’s time to look back at the Harlem Renaissance,” Robertson said. “Get out your flapper dresses and zoot suits because we’re going to have a costume party for the opening of ‘Their World As Big As They Made It: Looking Back at the Harlem Renaissance’ on Wednesday, September 13!”
What does an iconic Andy Warhol silkscreen portrait of the musician Prince have to do with the work of libraries? It all relates to the issue of fair use, according to Brandon Butler, the University of Virginia Library’s Director of Information Policy. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision about Warhol’s licensing of “Orange Prince,” as well as two other rulings — Twitter v. Taamneh and Gonzalez v. Google — that addressed platform liability for user content.
We spoke with Butler about the rulings and what they mean for libraries. A copyright lawyer, Butler keeps tabs on open access and fair use issues, court rulings, and the future of AI on his blog, The Taper. Check out his thoughts below!
Q. Can you give brief overviews of the Warhol, Twitter, and Gonzalez cases?
A. I’ll be as brief as I can! Warhol v. Goldsmith is about (you guessed it) Andy Warhol, and in particular it’s about him licensing one of his celebrity silkscreen portraits of Prince for use on a magazine cover. The portrait was based on a photograph, and the photographer objected to Warhol’s use. The Twitter and Gonzalez cases were about whether platforms like Twitter and Google could be held partly liable for terrorist attacks that the plaintiffs said were incited by content hosted on their platforms. In the end, Warhol lost and the tech platforms won.
Q. What were the main concerns about the cases, especially in terms of how they relate to the work libraries do?
A. For Warhol, the library concern was that the Court would revisit its broad and flexible fair use approach and shrink the scope for lawful fair use of in-copyright works. I joke sometimes that libraries are basically warehouses full of legally encumbered objects, and without fair use libraries and their users would be severely limited in what we can do with the information we work so hard to collect and share. We need fair use for preservation, for computer analysis of text, to serve all patrons regardless of disability, to power criticism and commentary, to mount compelling exhibitions, and on and on. If the court had rolled back fair use in Warhol, it would have been a disaster for us.
The connection between libraries, tech platforms, and antiterrorism laws may be less obvious, but it’s still important. The legal arguments in those cases sought to hold Google and Twitter responsible not only for what users posted to their sites, but also for what viewers did outside of the platforms. This is relevant to libraries because many of us (most university libraries, especially) host information on behalf of our communities, and we need reasonable protections from liability for what we host. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to support things like Libra or UVA Create, because the risk would be too high. Also, I think it’s generally troubling to hold any information provider responsible for what other people do with the information they provide.
Q. Can you walk us through the rulings handed down last week and what they mean for library workers going forward?
A. In the Warhol case, the Court ruled that the Warhol Foundation (which has managed Warhol’s rights since his death) could not license the Warhol Prince image for use on a magazine cover without Goldsmith’s permission because that was too similar (nearly identical, in fact) to the purpose of Goldsmith’s photograph. In fact, when Warhol initially created his Prince images, he was working on commission for Vanity Fair and the magazine paid a license fee to Goldsmith so that Warhol could use the image. The ruling is extremely narrow for this reason — it really only applies in cases like this where the fair user has the same purpose as the original creator and is competing directly with the original work in its intended market. The scholarly and research uses we see in the library are miles away from this kind of stuff, so I’m pretty confident we won’t see many repercussions from Warhol in our work.
In the Twitter and Gonzalez cases, the court actually dodged what folks thought would be a hot-button issue: whether the court would apply a legal provision called Section 230 that protects online platforms when they might otherwise be liable for user speech. The court dodged the question by finding that the tech companies did nothing wrong here, so there was no need to invoke that platform immunity rule.
Q. Do you foresee challenges to these rulings in the future?
A. In a sense, yes. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, of course, so their word on any particular case is final. But the issues they avoided in these cases — when is artistic borrowing unfair, and when should internet companies be shielded from their users’ bad acts — live on, and the lower courts and even Congress are going to be wrestling with them for years to come.
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
A. It’s interesting that these cases were all basically non-partisan. In an era when trust of the Supreme Court is at an all-time low, and the Court’s conservative supermajority seems to be flexing its power, there are still some issues where you can’t really predict how people will vote based on who appointed them. In Warhol, both the majority and the dissent were written by liberals and joined by conservatives, with a concurrence written by a conservative and joined by a liberal. In the tech platform cases, hard-right justice Clarence Thomas wrote for a unanimous court. This doesn’t mean the court is apolitical, or that it isn’t bitterly divided, but just that there are some areas of law where those divides haven’t asserted themselves.
The Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library will be closed from May 19 to Aug. 15 due to construction on the patio surrounding the building.
Other Library locations will remain open. To find group or study spaces in other Library locations, visit library.virginia.edu/hours. During the closure, Fine Arts materials can be requested in Virgo for delivery to another Library location, and summer course reserves will be available in Clemons Library.
The nearby book drop boxes will also be closed during this time. Open drive-up drop boxes are located at Ivy Stacks and in the Central Grounds Parking Garage and there are a number of walk-up drop boxes elsewhere on Grounds. For directions and maps to all Library locations and drop boxes, visit library.virginia.edu/map.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, making it a great time to feature materials created by, for, and about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Join the Library in celebrating this heritage month and take a look at our recommendations below!
“Saving Time: Discovering A Life Behind the Clock” by Jenny Odell (Random House, 2023)
In her follow-up to her great work on resisting the attention economy, “How to Do Nothing,” Jenny Odell examines different senses of time. This book is incredibly expansive, considering the history of timekeeping, how we perceive time, and reflecting on how our relationship with time has changed over the pandemic. I found that this book took me quite some time to read, because I was digesting and savoring every page, and making many annotations. Ultimately, I found Odell’s book thought-provoking and emotionally resonant. —Haley Gillilan
“In Waves” by AJ Dungo (Nobrow, 2019)
This beautiful graphic novel by AJ Dungo is a meditation on grief and surfing. While it might not seem as if those two concepts naturally mesh, Dungo weaves together a gorgeous and heartbreaking narrative about the loss of his girlfriend, alongside the history of the sport. Elegant, monochromatic, full-page illustrations of water and islands wash over the reader. For those grappling with sadness, depression, or complicated grief, Dungo’s graphic novel might be a soothing balm and reminder that they are not alone. —Haley Gillilan
“The Bandit Queens” by Parini Shroff (Ballantine Books, 2023)
“The Bandit Queens” is unlike anything I’ve ever read. This novel follows a group of women in India who are plotting to get rid of their husbands, but if you think you know where this is going, I assure you that you don’t. I think that this novel would ultimately be considered “women’s fiction,” but it has something for everyone. It’s sadistically funny, tenacious, culturally immersive, and intense, but it also has some cozy mystery elements that many people would love. Anyone looking for an energetic rollercoaster with searing feminist commentary, look no further than Shroff’s “The Bandit Queens.” —Haley Gillilan
“Insurrecto” by Gina Apostol (Soho, 2018)
Gina Apostol’s novel “Insurrecto” presents an encounter between a Filipina immigrant, Magsalin (her professional name), and an American filmmaker, Chiara Brasi. Chiara is hoping to finish her father’s film about an uprising against American troops occupying the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, which led to U.S. acquisition of the Philippines, and has hired Magsalin as a translator of and consultant for her script. The novel uses the interactions between the two women, as well as depictions of the uprising and events from the 1970s when both women were children and Chiara’s father was using the Philippines as a set for a film about the Vietnam War, to represent stages in the history of U.S. imperialism and Filipino-American interactions. —Keith Weimer
“Making A Scene” by Constance Wu (Scribner, 2022)
This book of essays by actress Constance Wu is a refreshing memoir, with a mix of some heavy hitting emotional reflections and heartwarming anecdotes. I was looking forward to this book because Constance Wu has been brave and outspoken about abuse in the entertainment industry, and I wanted to read more about her experiences in her own words. I think that readers in our community might be particularly interested in this work, as Wu grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and some of her childhood memories feature prominently in the book. —Haley Gillilan
“Four Great Treasures of the Sky” by Jenny Tinghui Zhang (Flatiron Books, 2022)
For those looking for a book about characters living in a time period that is rarely depicted in mainstream media, “Four Treasures of the Sky” might have something to teach you. Our heroine, Daiyu, is smuggled from China to the United States in the 1880s. She adapts to her circumstances and fights for her freedom across the American West. Keep a box of tissues nearby, though, as the book barrels towards a heartbreaking conclusion. In Jenny Tinghui Zhang’s author’s note, she mentions that this book was an attempt to tell a story that is lost to time and give a narrative to those affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act. I recommend this book to all lovers of historical fiction.—Haley Gillilan
“After Yang” directed by Kogonada (A24 Films, 2021)
A very low-fi science fiction gem, it’s possible that “After Yang” slipped under your radar. Set in a near future where robots are used as nannies, Jake (Colin Farrell) desperately tries to find a fix for his daughter’s adoring and gentle android friend, Yang. In his efforts, he encounters Yang’s life beyond who he was as a babysitter. “After Yang” doesn’t have a lot of flashy special effects or explosions that these types of stories usually come with, but digs deep into existential ideas about grief and contentment. You can stream “After Yang” on our library streaming platform, Swank. —Haley Gillilan
“Christian Pluralism in the United States: The Indian Immigrant Experience” by Raymond Brady Williams (Cambridge University Press, 1996)
Raymond Brady Williams’ scholarly monograph, “Christian Pluralism in the United States: The Indian Immigrant Experience,” provides a through overview of this vibrant segment of the Indian American community circa 1996. Almost every Christian tradition in the American landscape is represented in the Indian community, and these are not all products of imperial missionary endeavors. (The “Mar Thoma Christians” and their “Malabar Rite” Catholic offshoots claim a heritage dating back to Jesus’ disciple Thomas in the first century.) These Christian communities experience many tensions in trying to maintain a faith commitment along with (regional) ethnic and in some cases caste identities, marriage traditions and rituals from the Indian subcontinent. Only the Baptists seem to have built something of a “pan-Indian” identity. A review of Prema Kurien’s 2017 book, “Ethnic Church Meets Megachurch: Indian American Christianity in Motion,” which I haven’t read, suggests that most of these tensions have continued for the past quarter-century, with shifts towards greater Americanization and “nondenominational” Protestantism (trends also present among other American ethnic groups). —Keith Weimer
Guest post by Sherri Brown, UVA Librarian for English and Digital Humanities
Since 2006, the United States has observed Jewish American Heritage Month each May. It may come as no surprise that the University of Virginia Library is celebrating the occasion with a list of recommended books by Jewish authors. See some of our recommendations below, along with picks from students in Professor Caroline Rody’s spring 2023 English class, Contemporary Jewish Fiction. We hope you find a book or two to pique your interest! (Find more events and materials related to Jewish American heritage here.)
“The Latecomer” by Jean Hanff Korelitz (Celadon Books, 2022)
Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel follows the lives of the Oppenheimers, a family plagued by tragedy and its emotional repercussions. Phoebe, the last of four children, is born to Salo and Johanna 18 years after her triplet siblings. She must navigate the fallout from the web of lies and secrets her parents and the triplets have created over the years in order to understand the past and bring peace to her family. An engaging read that elicits a reflection on what it is that binds a family together and whether sharing a bloodline is not enough.
– Recommended by Sherri Brown, Librarian for English and Digital Humanities
“The Chosen” by Chaim Potok (Simon & Schuster, 1967)
Set in 1940s-era Brooklyn, Chaim Potok’s 1967 novel “The Chosen” paints a vivid and unstable world through the eyes of adolescent Reuven Malter, a young, modern Orthodox Jew who longs to become a rabbi. After a dramatic encounter on a baseball field, Reuven eventually strikes up a friendship with a young Hasid named Danny, the son of the larger-than-life rabbinic sage and tzaddik/leader, Reb Saunders. Though they hail from extremely different backgrounds, the boys rely on each other to navigate their entrance into adulthood.
Potok has crafted a masterful work rich with characterization and cultural depth. He captures the classic essence of a coming-of-age story and raises questions about Jewishness and the life-altering influence of friendship. Once Reuven and Danny’s paths intertwine, their life trajectories take on a new definition, and nothing will ever be the same.
— Recommended by Caroline Ford, graduate student
Beatrice White, an undergraduate student in Professor Rody’s class, also recommended “The Chosen,” explaining that “each page is a delicacy, detailing the beautiful and troubling journey from Jewish boyhood to manhood,” and describing the novel as “a must-read for any interested in the intricacies of young Jewishness and just how powerful friendship can be.”
“The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick (1980). Printed in book format by Knopf, 1989.
I highly recommend “The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick as an important piece of Holocaust literature. It is a harrowing short story about three characters, Rosa, Magda, and Stella, on their march to a concentration camp. During this march, Rosa tries in vain to keep her infant daughter, Magda, hidden from Nazi officers. She does this by concealing her in a shawl, which she keeps close to her breast. Throughout the story, this shawl acts as a layer of protection between Magda and the horrors of the outside world.
The reason why this story resonated so much with me is because it deals with themes of motherhood. There are many things about the Holocaust that are horrifying, but probably the most gut-wrenching to me is the sheer number of families that were torn apart. Although this short story is technically a work of historical fiction, Ozick has stated that the events in the story are an amalgamation of testimonies she heard from women who lost their children at concentration camps. Ozick does an incredible job of illustrating this inhumanity in an almost surreal way. Her writing is filled with unusual metaphors and bizarre analogies, ones that make the horrifying events in the story difficult to digest — but at the same time, you as a reader are unable to look away from the page. This is emblematic of how the protagonist, Rosa, feels on the inside, because after all, it must be impossible for her to fully comprehend the inhumanity that she is experiencing all around her. By the end of the story, the reader feels just as heartbroken as she does.
– Recommended by Leilani Johnson, undergraduate student
“Her First American” by Lore Segal (Knopf, 1985)
Lore Segal’s “Her First American” tells the semi-autobiographical story of the relationship between Ilka Weissnix, a young Jewish refugee from Nazi Europe, and Carter Bayoux, an older Black American. Carter is a teacher, and he makes it his mission to teach Ilka how to become naturalized into America’s unique racial culture. Through his lessons and Ilka’s experiences, readers watch people from different backgrounds fight to achieve coexistence in a divided world that works against them. Themes of empathy saturate the plot while Carter struggles with alcoholism and Ilka must learn how to relate to her traumatized mother. In this character-driven novel, Segal asks questions about how social conformity creates constrictions on relationships — and how people can overcome those restrictions.
– Recommended by an undergraduate student
“Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon Books, 1986)
When it comes to modern Jewish literature, specifically Holocaust literature, the book I think best encapsulates this genre is the graphic novel “Maus” by Art Spiegelman. What stands out about “Maus” is how it depicts multiple generations of post-Holocaust trauma, and the reader can get the full scope of the impact of the event. Through the father’s story, the reader can learn about the history of the Holocaust, including the rise of the Nazi party and the experience of the concentration camps. Then, through the son’s narrative, the reader can gain insight into the prolonged impact of the Holocaust on the family dynamic. The father’s struggles with money and love show the long-term trauma of the Holocaust. The reader can also better understand second-generation Holocaust trauma through the son’s struggles with his father’s experiences. With “Maus,” readers can better understand the true impact of the Holocaust on American Jewish families, while also reading a compelling historical novel.
– Recommended by Grace Theriot, undergraduate student
“Jewish Humor” section of “Jewish American Literature: a Norton Anthology” edited by Jules Chametzky, John Felstiner, Hilene Flanzbaum, and Kathryn Hellerstein (W.W. Norton, 2001)
Jewish comedy defies easy explanation. Perceptive critics have described any attempts to identify a distinctively Jewish sense of humor as fruitless since, for any claim made as to what it truly is, a little thought immediately uncovers all kinds of exceptions and counterexamples. Furthermore, the counterexamples themselves go beyond being merely illustrative; they are nearly as extensive and numerous as Jewish history, which spans a wide geographic area, literally and figuratively. The book offers many examples showcasing alternative takes in a humorous way, leaving readers in awe. The recurrence of dark comedy in the book may particularly capture readers. I highly recommend this work, as readers will dive into a whole world of stories in different settings that will keep them on their toes.
– Recommended by Sultana Omar, undergraduate student
“Voices From Shanghai: Jewish Exiles in Wartime China” edited, translated, & with an introduction by Irene Eber (University of Chicago Press, 2008). Also available as an ebook.
In the years leading up to the Second World War, many Jewish families fled Germany, Poland, and surrounding countries. A sizeable contingent of Jewish refugees — between 18,000 and 20,000 — arrived in Shanghai, China, between 1938 and 1941 (according to Eber), joining the over 6,000 Russian Jews who had arrived earlier in the 1930s. Eber brings us first-hand accounts of life in Shanghai before, during, and after the war through translated poems, stories, letters, and diaries penned by Jewish refugees during that time. While many of the Jews in Shanghai eventually immigrated to the United States, Canada, Australia, and other locales, this book is an important contribution to providing a glimpse of the range of feelings and experiences had by Jewish refugees during their time in China.
– Recommended by Sherri Brown
“Strange Haven: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Shanghai” by Sigmund Tobias (University of Illinois Press, 1999)
For a more detailed account of day-to-day life in Shanghai during WWII, consider this memoir by Sigmund Tobias, Eminent Research Professor of Educational & Counseling Psychology at the University of Albany. Born in 1932, Tobias was only six years old when he fled from Germany to Shanghai with his parents. Tobias recounts his childhood growing up in Shanghai during the war, as his family and many other Jewish refugees acclimated to a new climate and customs while struggling with poverty, food shortages, and the eventual movement of refugees to a ghetto in part of the Hongkew district. In describing his life, Tobias also expounds on the details of living as an Orthodox Jew in a foreign city. Tobias immigrated to the United States in August of 1948. The final chapters of his memoir tell of his return to Shanghai 40 years after his departure. An illuminating and compelling read.
– Recommended by Sherri Brown
Researchers can direct queries about Jewish and Jewish American literature to Sherri Brown and research questions regarding Jewish Studies to Miguel Valladares-Llata, Librarian for Romance Languages and Latin American Studies, whose subject specialties include French, German, Jewish Studies, Latin American Studies, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
Earlier this month in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, a happy group of alumni, students, and staff posed in front of a portrait of Fernando Bolívar, who was likely the first Latin American student at the University of Virginia. The nephew and adopted son of the Venezuelan leader Simón Bolívar, Fernando enrolled at the University in 1827. He is the namesake for important hubs in UVA’s Latinx community today, including the student residence Casa Bolívar and the Bolívar Network, an alumni steering committee.
The group was gathered for the UVA Alumni Association’s inaugural Juntos weekend, a celebration for Latinx alumni. (The Spanish word “juntos” translates to “together” in English.) As part of that weekend, UVA Library sponsored two events on April 15, including a presentation of Simón and Fernando Bolívar’s artifacts held in Special Collections. For that event, called “A Closer Look: The Bolívar Collection,” UVA Library curators and archivists displayed Simón Bolívar’s silver and manuscripts, Fernando Bolívar’s papers, and portraits of both men that were donated to UVA in 1944 by the Venezuelan government. They also presented more modern items related to the Latinx experience at UVA and the Bolívar Network’s founding.
“The team that interpreted the objects from the Library’s Bolívar family collection were so thoughtful in their explanations and care for the precious items and their stories,” said attendee Gina Flores, a 2000 UVA alumna and founding student member of the Bolívar Network. “I appreciated the 1827 Bolívar history paired with more current Latinx histories. Seeing some of the founding documents of the Bolívar Network from decades ago reminded me how important it is to collect and preserve UVA Latinx history, past, present, and future. Seeing our community’s history validated my connection to UVA and sense of belonging as an alumna.”
That same morning, the Library partnered with Microsoft’s HOLA Network (its internal Latinx employee resource group), to host a breakfast in Special Collections’ Harrison-Small Auditorium, where Latinx Microsoft employees shared video testimonials about the power of Latinx community. “A weekend like this one is an opportunity for units, schools, and groups across the University to reflect on the journey of Latinx students, faculty and staff since the University’s founding,” said Catalina Piatt-Esguerra, the Library’s Associate Dean of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility, during the Microsoft event. “It’s a weekend that reminds us of the impact of community and the power of representation.”
Take a look below at images from that day, captured by photographer and Library employee Eze Amos.
For more about the Bolívar Collection, check out these links in the Library catalog:
The University of Virginia Library is delighted to announce the donation of a major gift, the Iselin Collection of Humor. Built over many years by noted collector and retired attorney Josephine Lea Iselin, the Iselin Collection will be a tremendous asset for research and learning at the University across a wide range of disciplines.
The Iselin Collection, which will reside in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, consists of illustrated books, reference materials, periodicals, prints, manuscripts, and ephemera, principally of social and political satire. The Iselin Collection encompasses more than 800 items, including significant works of 19th-century English and French material, a 20th-century collection of illustrated humor books by well-known editorial cartoonists of the era, and an adjunct collection of 19th- and 20th-century American illustrated fiction, put together, as Iselin noted, “with an emphasis on the quality of the illustration and pure whimsy.”
Both the English and French materials include works by the most celebrated graphic humorists of the period. Giants of the genre of satire and caricature, such as George and Robert Cruikshank in England and Honoré Daumier, Gustave Doré, and J.J. Grandville in France, are the focus of the collections, but many other artists are included. Charles H. Bennett, Richard Doyle, Alfred Henry Forrester, Harold Knight Browne (Phiz), Thomas Rowlandson, John Tenniel, Charles Amédée de Noé (Cham), André Gill, Rodolphe Töpffer, and dozens of other well-known illustrators all appear. Portions of the collection have been the subjects of recent exhibitions at the Grolier Club (in New York City, where Iselin resides). In 2017, the club displayed “Vive les Satiristes! French Caricature during the Reign of Louis Philippe, 1830-1848,”, followed by “The Great George: Cruikshank and London's Graphic Humorists, 1800-1850” in 2021. “Vive les Satiristes!” and “The Great George” were curated by Iselin, and catalogs were published for both exhibitions.
The Iselin Collection has far-ranging potential for research, instruction, exhibition, and outreach, as the items relate to many fields of study, including art, art history, literature, political science, history, and media studies. In addition to availability in the Small Special Collections Library, the collection will also be used in Rare Book School courses in illustration, printing, bibliography, book arts, and book history.
Brenda Gunn, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and Preservation, noted the importance of the collection. “Not only will it vastly improve our 19th-century French and English holdings, but it also serves as a complement and connection to our materials in American political cartooning and satire,” she said. The Library has significant holdings in that area, including manuscript collections, materials in the Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History, and the papers of acclaimed political cartoonist Patrick Oliphant, whose archive the University acquired in 2018.
Gunn remarked upon another distinction of the collection. “The Iselin Collection is notable not just for its exceptional content but also as one of the few gatherings of rare materials at the Library amassed by a female collector. The collection reflects Lea Iselin’s critical eye and her passion for the materials, and it shows her extraordinary skill in assembling them into a unified whole. Finally, the collection is in excellent overall condition. We are grateful to her for this singular gift and look forward to stewarding it and making it available for scholars and visitors.”
The Iselin Collection of Humor is currently being cataloged. The UVA Library will continue to highlight this important collection as work proceeds.
Sue Donovan was raised in Middle Tennessee, where her mother was a storyteller and worked at the county library. “We basically grew up in the library. I brought books to school to read behind the books that we were supposed to read in class,” she said. Now as Conservator for Special Collections at the University of Virginia Library, Donovan still spends her days surrounded by books, mending torn pages and repairing broken bindings. Later this month, she is offering her services to the local community, in partnership with the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library (which was named the Virginia Library Association’s 2022 Library of the Year).
In honor of Preservation Week, UVA Library and JMRL will host a Community Book Clinic from April 30 to May 6. If you have a book in need of repair, drop it off at your local JMRL branch in Charlottesville or Albemarle, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties. Place your book in a reusable bag with a completed waiver (there is a one-book limit per family). Donovan, with a team of six additional UVA Library staff members, will mend rips and tears, sew in detached pages, and fix damaged bindings and spines, all for no cost. The repaired books will be ready for pickup in June. “Ever since I moved here [in 2016], I've wanted to do something like this,” Donovan said. “I love being able to help members of the community and local organizations who don’t have conservators on staff.”
Donovan, who studied book conservation at the Sorbonne in Paris, mends tears using traditional Japanese methods. “We use paper made out of the mulberry plant … and we apply that with a wheat starch paste,” she said. “It’s kind of like tape, but inherently removable with the same solvent, which is water.” While this method of repair is time consuming (the mended pages must be dried under weights until the water evaporates), the mend holds firmly in place once dry, and can be removed with water at any time without further damaging the book.
Book conservators consider adhesive tape to be “evil,” Donovan said with a laugh, because tape can solubilize ink and pigments. “If you put a piece of Scotch tape down on top of a family letter that was written in ballpoint pen, the ink can go up into the adhesive. And even if you remove the tape, which is possible to do, you have damaged part of your heritage.” The Community Book Clinic cannot remove tape from books at this time, as the library that includes the Conservation Lab is under renovation. “We need a fume hood to extract the solvent vapors. So we just can't deal with tape removal for this particular book clinic,” Donovan said.
The clinic can accept up to 75 books total to repair this year. “We’re starting slow, but I’m hoping that the clinic will be a yearly event going forward,” Donovan said. Below, read a few of Donovan’s recommendations for preserving your favorite books at home:
- Rule number one is don’t tape your pages, unless, say, you have to carry your book on a journey, and you don’t have any other way to keep the pages intact.
- Keep things out of direct sunlight; ultraviolet light can really damage leather, damage cloth, damage paper.
- Don’t keep books in the basement or the attic or any other place that doesn’t have temperature control.
- If there are loose pages, or parts of the book are falling off, there are websites out there where you can custom order an archival box and save the materials for your descendants.
The UVA Library welcomes members of the Charlottesville community to celebrate eighty years of Music Department history!
Join us at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, for celebration and performances reflecting on musical recordings dating as far back as the 1940s. The celebration marks completion of a digitization project, making these recordings available for years to come. The event will take place in the auditorium of Harrison/Small; doors open at 1:30.
The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served. It is presented by the University of Virginia Library and sponsored by the UVA Arts Council.
Amy Hunsaker, Librarian for Music & the Performing Arts, elaborates on the project:
The UVA Music Department has been recording their performances for the better part of eighty years. UVA librarians have actively collected, cataloged, and preserved Music Department recordings as part of the circulating collection. Many Music Department and Library staff put their hearts into making sure these recordings would remain available to future listeners. However, it was made clear during the pandemic that we needed to create a new process to collect and archive the performances so they would be better protected. With this in mind, I worked with University Archivist Lauren Longwell to seek an Arts Council grant which we called, “Keep the Music Playing.” The funds were in part used to pay a project intern to process the existing collection into the University Archives and create a new workflow to collect existing and future recordings.
We will be celebrating the culmination of this project at the April 26 event, where attendees will be able to interact with the collection. Celebrated composer Judith Shatin will speak and we will be treated to a live performance by the Glee Club. The event is supported by the UVA Arts Council.
We wanted to provide a unique view of the collection, so we asked our project intern, UVA fourth-year student Emma Radcliff, to reflect on her experience as a student interacting with many decades of musical UVA history. Emma writes:
After nine months of work, the “Keep the Music Playing” archival project is finally nearing its completion. In total, we inventoried 3,401 items, and processed 522 more. We sorted 2,430 CDs, 466 DATs, 482 cassettes, and a plethora of digital files, reel-to-reels, and concert programs. This collection deserved every moment we spent on it.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of this project. With materials hailing from as early as the 1940s, the collection represents a deeply significant slice of the University’s history, and as such serves as a lens through which to view enormous historical landmarks — not only has music itself developed over the past near-century with the adoption of digital creation, advanced recording technologies, and new performance styles, but the diversification of the University has profoundly enriched its musical culture. The sheer breadth of this collection — which features Afropop, pipa recitals, jazz, women’s groups, experimental noise, folk music, opera, and so very much more — is demonstrative of a community which expresses its heterogeneous identities in a way that joins people through artistic experience. It’s a trend that I hope will continue.
Given its significance, the collection needed to be organized for preservation and public access. Accessibility is, of course, at the root of archival practice, and this one has been inventoried at the item level, which is often not possible for large collections. That means that every item with a record is searchable, and every item that lacked a record is still organized to enable discovery by researchers, curious students, or alumni who want to find their old performances.
Working on this collection has been fulfilling. It’s been a challenge, to be sure — working with eighty years’ worth of material means encountering different cataloging styles, parsing impossible handwriting from the 1970s, and wondering why a series of chronologically-ordered cassette tapes from 1996 were labeled “1,” “2,” and then… “B.” I owe thanks to Winston Barham, who put an incredible amount of personal effort into recording, labeling, and cataloging many of the records between 2004 and 2020 before this project was even a glimmer in an archivist’s eye. His hard work, along with that of student employees, contributed hundreds of performance recordings to the collection and enabled me to identify items quickly, which is why so many records could be inventoried at the item level.
I am grateful too for the support of the UVA Arts Council, who recognized the importance of this collection and offered us the resources to properly process it. Their contribution made this possible.
The “Keep the Music Playing” collection will be shelved at Ivy Stacks, and will be searchable through an ArchiveSpace finding aid later in 2023. We hope that you have the opportunity to explore it; it is a treasure of the University.
The Library is now offering access to the Wall Street Journal, including daily news reporting and coverage from around the world.
To access, visit https://wsj.com/uva. You will be prompted to create an account, which you can then use on wsj.com, the Wall Street Journal app, and the Wall Street Journal archives.
With the highest print circulation in the United States, the Wall Street Journal is available in English, Chinese, and Japanese, and users can view the online and print versions through wsj.com. The print edition of the Journal has been available continuously since its launch in 1889, and the paper has won 38 Pulitzer Prizes.
In addition to the Wall Street Journal, Library users can…
- Read the New York Times online: Learn how to create your free New York Times account.
- Browse a large number of contemporary papers through Factiva.
- Access more than 50 newspaper databases, including historical newspapers. Many of these are also discoverable in Virgo.
Accounts are available to active students, faculty, and staff using a virginia.edu email account.
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