Sunday, October 18, 2009

Following Up on the Follow Up

Last week, I posted a few questions I sent to the lovely Queensland librarian for more information. She responded quickly with the following information:

Dear Deb

Following your email, I have a bit more information for you about our Artists Books Online

1. I unfortunately can’t provide an accurate costing for this project. For the most part it was time spent by two staff (both librarians) over a period of approximately 9 months. The process involved making a selection from our large collection, so that meant meeting with each other and compiling an initial list. A “realistic” number of around 50 was arrived at. As you are, I’m sure, aware, numerous artists books are collaborative works, involving 2 or more people. For example, you can have a case of one person who has the concept, another might be the printmaker/papermaker or binder, or there could be a piece of text/poem as a starting point. All of these collaborators would be contacted for their permission so that we could “publish” the work on our website. All received a covering letter along with a Non-exclusive copyright form to complete and return to us, as well as a detailed summary of the book, its description, the processes employed and where possible an artist’s statement about the process of making the book, the choice of materials.

2. Our selection criteria consisted of choosing books which we believed would have strong visual appeal in the online environment. Whilst we do have a large collection of titles, not all are visually arresting. Colour was also an issue. Some spectacular examples of artists books do not necessarily “present well” online. We also had a little bit of slippage in the fact that a few (not many) of selected artists could either not be contacted, because they had moved, or did not get back to us. When in doubt, we had to cross them off the list. On the whole, the response from the book artists was overwhelmingly positive. They absolutely wanted to be represented on our website.

3. I would say that the selection phase was fairly short – 2 to 3 weeks. The photography certainly took longer, several months, as we would take a number of books at a time for our photographers in our Image Production Unit to do the work, bearing in mind that our project was not all they had to do. Assigning of the file names would have taken a few weeks, again done over a period of time by our web services people. The Queensland Education Department, known as Education Queensland , had a staff member working at State Library, and her job was to liaise with a number of teachers who had manifested interest in developing curriculum which was added to the Artists Books Online part of the website. The collection was already catalogued, in the sense that all our artists books are catalogued as is everything else in our collections.

4. Artists Books Online comes under the What’s On/ Exhibitions/ Online path accessible through our Home Page. It gives a brief definition of the many definitions of what constitutes an artist’s book. There are quite a few links there with suggested other sites showing artists books. Then there is the capacity to Find all or find a category of artists books. The searching tool is quite good.

5. The artists’ books are catalogued according to the rules that the State Library adheres to for  all cataloguing. They can be found in our OneSearch catalogue via title, author/artist, subject heading/s and keyword. They normally bear a call number ALAAB (Australian Library of Art Artists Books) followed by, generally, the first three letters of the artist’s name, or in some cases, the organisation – in the case of a collaborative work created by artists from a university.

6. We looked at a broad range of online artists’ books collections, some of which are referred to in one of the links. Also bear in mind the fact that the list is probably a bit old now.

I expressed my gratitude to her for providing such informative responses. I also asked Teresa if she could ask the same questions
1. What was the cost of the project?
2. What was your selection criteria?
3. How long did each phase of the project take? (I.e., how long did the selection process take, how long did it take the photographers to shoot all the books, how long did it take for the technical portions to be put together, how long did it take to catalog the collection?)
4. Did you develop a finding aid for the collection?
5. Did you catalog the artists' books any differently than other objects?
6. What other artists' books online collections did you examine prior to producing your collection?
of the list serv folks she's been corresponding with about the project.

In other news, I provided Michael with a copyright permission letter (that I made from a template) to send to Suellen Glashausser's widower and the person who took the original digital photos we'll be using in the finding aid. He has since sent out the letters, and hopefully, we'll be seeing the signed copies soon.

In the meantime, I will be spending the majority of my time entering metadata into the EAD framework Caryn supplied. She and I met on the 15th (last Thursday) to clear up some of the questions I had about converting the EAD to HTML. Unfortunately, I cannot access the library's special collections server remotely (it's not just me, it's everyone), so I'll be doing the work at home on Tuesday in Textpad and transferring it to the server when I'm on campus again on Thursday.

Finally, I have been investigating funding options should the library decide it would be a good thing to apply for a grant for a digitization program in special collections (mainly of artists' books). I've sent Michael a few links on grant funding resources, and will continue to look into it. However, what I've found so far makes me think that the library would need to apply next year in the summer since most of the grants for arts and humanities digitization projects were posted in July and just closed at the beginning of October. Something to remember for the future.

1 comment:

  1. Deb -

    Terrific that you reached out to colleague in Queensland and that she was gracious enough to respond... and so thoroughly!!

    Try to capture the documents and process for copyright. You'll use this again. Perchance did you do a web search on this to see if there's anything... anywhere to give you a hand?? Don't think I saw this in other posts but may've overlooked.

    In terms of your tagging, are you using some existing taxonomy? I'd think tha there would be some sort of already-created strructure, but perhaps not.

    Overall, Deb, a good thorough job of documents what you're doing. Work itself looks EXTREMELY interesting.



Thanks very much for commenting. I appreciate your feedback.