#critlib 2016-03-07: white gloves

Storify of the March 7 2016 #critlib chat "you don’t have to wear white gloves: critical approaches to rare books", moderated by @ForgetTheMaine. For more info about #critlib, including past and future chats, visit critlib dot org.

  1. Preliminaries
  2. Today! Join us for a chat on #critlib approaches to rare books, modded by @ForgetTheMaine. 11am Pacific/2pm Eastern.  http://critlib.org/white-gloves/ 
  3. Introductions
  4. Hey all in #critlib land! Let's get the ball rolling on critical rare booking with introductions! I'm Dylan, rare book student at illinois!
  5. I'm Rebecca, I do archives/digital stuff. Mostly here to read + learn #critlib
  6. Hi #critlib, I'm a cataloger at an academic library in the middle of Minnesota. I've done some #rarebooks cataloging, excited for the topic!
  7. I'm Melissa. I'm a rare book librarian and a manager. This is my first #critlib as an active participant (I hope).
  8. Hi #critlib folks! I'm Lynne. I do pop culture archiving in DeKalb, IL. mostly lurking today. :-)
  9. I have skimmed #critlib convos before, but never participated.
  10. I'm Katy, longtime archivist, currently working with both archives and rare books. And eating lunch. :-) #critlib
  11. Excited to listen/lurk the #critlib chat starting now about rare books, mod: @ForgetTheMaine (my intro: acad #infolit lib*n in libarts uni👋)
  12. Hi #critlib! I'm excited about today's chat on rare books. I'll be mostly lurking, but will jump in as I can.
  13. hi #critlib! I’m patrick, a humanities subject specialist in an academic library who does a lot of teaching in/with special collections
  14. Melissa here, new grad and prepping for #ARLISVRA2016. Excited to lurk/lunch on this one! #critlib
  15. Good afternoon, #critlib ! It's actually kind of warm here in MI today... I'm a cataloger who's eating lunch (not near any rare books rn).
  16. Hi #critlib this is my first chat! Probably just lurk since I'm working th reference desk. Serials librarian at small academic library.
  17. Hi #critlib! I'm just lurking as well. Instruction librarian at university of Dubuque. Just curious about rare books!
  18. Hi #critlib popping in a bit late. A1- I did rare books specialization at Columbia Lib. School, now a spec coll librarian at CUNY
  19. also i'm kelly, eating mac and cheese while trying to keep it from the nosy dog #critlib
  20. Hey #critlib I'm a cc Instruction & Outreach Lib'n. Mostly lurking & hoping to read convos later! Thanks to @ForgetTheMaine for the topic!
  21. Hi I'm Mel library student focused on digital preservation, here to listen & learn. Thanks, #critlib!
  22. Joining in for #critlib on rare books! I'm a research services librarian at a pretty diverse spec coll lib, so work w/rare books & more
  23. (dropping in kinda late, Jaime, systems in independent research archives/library, NYC #critlib)
  24. Q1. Tell everyone about your experience with rare books, if any. Were you allowed/encouraged to handle the materials?
  25. Q1.Tell everyone about your experience with rare books, if any. Were you allowed/encouraged to handle the materials? #critlib
  26. A1. I will say that I hadn't really touched rare books prior to library school #critlib
  27. A1: 1st time as an undergrad at UNC. I needed to use a book for my thesis. RR staff were nice, but the process was so intimidating. #critlib
  28. I think staff were as welcoming as possible, but the process was scary. Big marble reading room, lots of paperwork. #critlib
  29. a1: only 1 rare book rm visit as an undergrad, no handling :(; did a bit of SC stuff in grad school…#critlib (1/2)
  30. didn’t get really comfortable until I collaborated with curators in mpow & learned from librarians at the Folger #critlib (2/2)
  31. A1 I took a Spec Colls class in lib skl. Prof brought in old (not rare) books in varying conditions, let us touch. #critlib
  32. A1 I've worked with artist books mostly, which are rare works of art in book form, & zines. Do those count? #critlib  https://twitter.com/ForgetTheMaine/status/706918862642659328 
  33. A1 i did a practicum at the Detroit Institute of Arts, they probably had some rare books in their collection but it wasn't my area #critlib
  34. A1: I never planned to work with rare books, but at my old job we had them and I was (usually) the only librarian, so...I learned. #critlib
  35. A1: Now I coordinate tech services for archives *and* rare books, and I love working with both! #critlib
  36. A1 My current RIS position still allows me to work with rare books now and then; we consider it a teaching collection #critlib
  37. A1. I got yelled at for requesting actual rare books (rather than microfilm) as a grad student. MF was not good quality, though. #critlib
  38. @marccold Well that is crappy! MF is usually not a replacement for actual books. #critlib
  39. @ForgetTheMaine This was not in the States, though, so I was also to blame for not being sensitive to local norms. #critlib
  40. @marccold well I think even certain collections in the States will look at you when you request and say "whhhhhyyyy?" suspciciously #critlib
  41. @ForgetTheMaine Oh, yes, I think the default assumption sometimes is that you're there to steal, rather than research. #critlib
  42. @marccold @ForgetTheMaine For us, it's more about wear & tear, I think. We've lots early 20th cent bad paper. #critlib
  43. @marccold @ForgetTheMaine If we have it MFed or digitized here (we're almost all archives & rare), we drive readers to that first.#critlib
  44. Big difference between "Did you know that there's another option?" and "How dare you try to use this when there's another option?" #critlib
  45. @ForgetTheMaine @marccold Every needs to have a justification to see rare books in my opinion student to scholar -but my bar is low #critlib
  46. A1. Got student worker gig in college Rare book room. Mostly vacuuming books and paging. Was runner up; 1st stu hired couldn't do! #critlib
  47. A1. Rare books never entered my mind as something accessible to me until grad school: intimidating spec coll libs at my undergrad. #critlib
  48. @violetbfox Only took being scolded once for not holding a rare coin "correctly" to conclude it wasn't for me (until grad school). #critlib
  49. @violetbfox that's unfortunate. We do a lot of outreach to encourage everyone to use our rare books as research/inspiration! #critlib
  50. A1- I encourage all who need to handle rare books and come see them, but I always let them know about digital copies first #critlib
  51. A1: I've never handled rare books--nor have I been encouraged too. Maybe I eat too many flaming hot Cheetos. #critlib
  52. A1: I do love pursuing the library & info studies-themed zines at UW-Madison's school of library & info studies #critlib
  53. Now also Head of Special Collections, (midlevel admin) so rare book handling limited to class visits. #critlib
  54. I teach 'show and tell' BI classes I always tell our students they can ask to see ours/other spec. coll. but they need preparation #critlib
  55. I remember being nervy undergrad, but still, I don't think I make it as easy as I could for all readers :S #critlib  https://twitter.com/marccold/status/706920235970994176 
  56. And I've heard plenty of tales of even experienced library/archives users being stymied by unexplained #speccolls procedures. #critlib
  57. Q2. What can rare book librarians do to break down barriers between repositories and the communities they serve?
  58. Q2. What can rare book librarians do to break down barriers between repositories and the communities they serve? #critlib
  59. This definitely speaks to what we're talking about in terms of difficulty of getting at collections #critlib
  60. A2: i think like archives, rare book collections have this air of being for Serious Academics, so breaking that image is key #critlib
  61. A2. Be approachable! Reach out! Be NICE and Enthusiastic and OFFER to help. Embedded *in* community builds trust. #critlib
  62. A2. I work at a public uni, so we have a MANDATE to be accessible to the public. #critlib
  63. Q2 in our case (strong local holdings) we’ve done outreach to HS teachers & have K-12 curricular materials #critlib
  64. @ForgetTheMaine #critlib I wasn't allowed to handle it so I found the book I wanted on eBay lol now I have my own #rbms library
  65. Harder for rare books than for archives, I think. RB collections tend to have less obvious relevance to non-academics. #critlib
  66. A2 Publicity re: what's in the collection & how it reflects community interests/values. #critlib
  67. A2 my library is working hard to change the image, and encourage the careful handling and use of materials but it is hard to shake. #critlib
  68. A2 OUTREACH and clear, but open, policies and procedures for using rare books. RB can be great inspiration #critlib  https://twitter.com/ForgetTheMaine/status/706921375999639553 
  69. (A2) And their relevance to academics is decreasing. We need new ways to connect to new audiences. #critlib
  70. @lynnemthomas Ditto: Huge commitment (REQUIREMENT) to providing undergrad + community access. #critlib
  71. BI classes include instructions=make appt in advance, wash hands, be prepared 2 wear gloves, follow instructions, pencils only etc. #critlib
  72. .@LNBel I'm interested that you still use gloves. We don't other than photos. #critlib
  73. @lynnemthomas @LNBel We do with our embroidered books sometimes. But with normal books usually not. #critlib
  74. @lynnemthomas I don't ask for gloves beyond photographs and prints, but students need to be prepared to be asked to do so elsewhere #critlib
  75. A2. While reading Archivaria, I kept thinking about OAIS ref model (what submitter puts in is not necessarily what user draws out) #critlib
  76. A2 (cont) and looking at Women in Print site, was fascinated to see how users are encouraged to tailor their own exps w/ the books. #critlib
  77. A2 - I am supporting peoples research outside our collections - I never imagined how many genealogists/first time users I'd get #critlib
  78. A2. Much of my outreach direct to faculty, saying "here's what we have DIRECTLY RELEVANT to X class". #critlib
  79. feel lucky teachers in my disciplines value rare/special collections & use instruction w/ me as a way in; spread via word of mouth #critlib
  80. @ForgetTheMaine A2 I'm at a museum, so I try to pop down and talk to the patrons as the tour ends. Sharing my enthusiasm helps. #critlib
  81. I do research on archaeological objects, nitrile gloves for all are a new trend in museum research #critlib
  82. So, none of us require gloves, but we all assume that everyone else does? #critlib
  83. @DerangeDescribe add - does the curator ask you to wear gloves? Then wear gloves #respect #critlib
  84. A2 In a FPOW I wrote our reading room rules Fight Club-style. "Research is bare-knuckle...unless you're handling photos" #critlib
  85. People do demand gloves! Gloves = rare books to so many folks. I don't actually know where that comes from. #critlib
  86. A2 To be honest....I wear gloves in the most recent video.... #critlib
  87. #critlib it is because I'm handling mother of pearl bindings...and we thought to be safe and all.
  89. A2 Srsly tho. If ppl can't find it from the internet, they don't know you have it. Maybe they don't need to access it from there... #critlib
  90. A2 ...but they sure as shit aren't showing up to your library if they don't know you have it. #critlib
  91. @rowmyboat agreed A2 - we do all we can to catalog and provide our collection finding aids and indexes - first priority #critlib
  92. A2 (and 3&4). Breaking down the barriers includes challenging assumptions that "rare books" necessarily means old or fragile. #critlib
  93. @violetbfox Lots of surprise about that. Trying to explain that we're painting a pic of local hist, not stockpiling valuable stuff. #critlib
  94. @marccold @violetbfox YESSS! "Protecting cultural history objects from extinction" is what a boss of mine says #critlib
  95. @violetbfox Amen! Lots of ours are 20th century, just from really really small printing runs. Specialized subject! #critlib
  96. @violetbfox this is good b/c it also breaks the stereotype that a rare book is something that's hundreds of years old #critlib
  97. Any suggestions for a small, niche subject museum library wanting to reach out to universities & ppl outside its niche field? #critlib
  98. @BkBindersMuseum reach out to instructors to seek collab on assignments? Depending on discipline, I’ll bet they’d be thrilled #critlib
  99. @BkBindersMuseum Find where the community you want to engage with is already hanging out on the internet. forums, FB, Reddit, etc? #critlib
  100. @BkBindersMuseum How's your metadata? In good shape? Publicly accessible? Findable on Worldcat (or whatever)? #critlib
  101. @violetbfox We're working on the Worldcat part, but yes, we have an accessible Koha catalog that I'm adding to daily. #critlib
  102. @BkBindersMuseum No suggestions, but in similar pos'n: rare bs lib in professional org. No immediate faculty/students to draw on! #critlib
  103. Even in classes where the book we're using "look" like rare books, I mention others in collection: comic books, pulp novels, etc. #critlib
  104. A2: Be visible & single minded obsession? Today I taught my server about digital pres. & produce guy abt community borrower card. #critlib
  105. Q3. What do we need to collect to ensure that rare books is more than old white texts?
  106. Q3. What do we need to collect to ensure that rare books are more than old white dude texts? #critlib
  107. A3. I think we need to ask people who aren't old white dudes. Can be tricky depending on one's institutional focus. #critlib
  108. *nods* If institutional focus is 'stuff by, abt belonging to our members' & women only admitted from c20th #critlib  https://twitter.com/melissa_hubbard/status/706925747814993920 
  109. A3 small presses, community newspapers, community org papers, zines! #critlib
  110. A3. #critlib Actively collect more than old white dudes. Backfill. Expand our definitions. Ask whose voices are missing. PROMOTE.
  111. A3 When rare books =/= old, it's not hard. Artist books? Seek out female, queer, PoC, non-western, etc artists. #critlib
  112. A3. For many academics, rare book collections are still the place to collect and interpret the canon. Can be hard to move past. #critlib
  113. @melissa_hubbard Our collection here was founded as a John Milton Room....so JM dominates...we're gotten away from that a ton. #critlib
  114. A3. I know I'm a one-trick pony on this, but: #zines. Expanding your scope when possible to include current community output. #critlib
  115. A3 (cont) Artists books, posters, videos, community activist material, etc. etc., to give people a sense of ownership, inclusion. #critlib
  116. A3: Include things from non-mainstream publishers like grrrl zines and posters #critlib
  117. A3. #critlib If we are, to an extent, defining the canon by what we select for posterity, we must be inclusive in selections whenever poss
  118. A3 - I do my best to collect all voices in the our specialty - criminal justice - grey literature is key also - for us, NYPD pubs. #critlib
  119. A3 Materials by/about POC, reflections of the world we live in, community sourced, zines, artist books, etc #critlib  https://twitter.com/ForgetTheMaine/status/706925330544660480 
  120. A3 If you're lucky enough to be able to buy rare materials, I bet stuff that's not big name dead white dudes is cheaper. #justsayin #critlib
  121. @ForgetTheMaine Pay attention to your subject area - for us, turns out women in bookbinding is remarkably well-documented. #critlib
  122. A3. #critlib It absolutely is cheaper in many cases, depending on subject area. @rowmyboat
  123. @LNBel @lynnemthomas And metals and art prints. That's all we would require for gloves #critlib
  124. A3 currently working on a zine RESEARCH collection policy, but we'll still have SC of same materials for preservation #critlib
  125. A3. Desc rare-books room as "this is where we tell story of our community" rather than "this is where we keep our Gutenberg Bible." #critlib
  126. @marccold Don't get me wrong, I love a good Gutenberg Bible, but I think that promotes the idea of museums rather than libraries. #critlib
  127. @marccold I know exactly what you mean but I can't put it into words re: museum vs. library. #critlib
  128. @ForgetTheMaine Guess what I'm getting at is avoiding the *popular idea* of museum as don't touch, not for you. (Not real museums) #critlib
  129. @ForgetTheMaine Whereas I feel a library should be more this is yours, this is our community's, use carefully but please use. #critlib
  130. A3 - we also collect prints, broadsides, mss collections, art books on/by prisons/prisoner such as those by @Justseeds #critlib
  131. @ForgetTheMaine and I'd also say take these acquisitions and make good use of any display/exhibit space to highlight them. #critlib
  132. @violetbfox a lot of this seems to overlap with archives, so i guess where do rare books and archives split/converge? #critlib
  133. @kellykietur @violetbfox #critlib IMHO, that varies by library. Many RBR/Specolls combined with archives!
  134. A3 So much of rare books is prestige collecting, tho--specifically and only prestige collecting. Local/diverse doesn't always rate #critlib
  135. A3 Inclusion has to be a FOCUS. Centered in the mission, not just to meet some kind of amorphous quota #critlib
  136. A3 small press books/zines are cheap but can become rare - buy two copies one for spec coll room and one for stacks #critlib
  137. A3 .@agoodlibrarian If you're lucky enough to be person in charge of colldev policy, that can be changed. Incrementally? #critlib
  138. .@agoodlibrarian (I say that as a lib w/o sufficient budget to prestige-collect even if I wanted to.) #critlib
  139. Great point! How do we explain desire for inclusiveness to those who only want prestige in a rare book collection? #critlib
  140. @melissa_hubbard what's the mission? If mission has anything to do w/community, there's your argument. #critlib
  141. todays small press / underground / out there publishers = tomorrow’s prestige, hopefully! #critlib
  142. @melissa_hubbard Perhaps explain that prestige/value is subjective, and there's value to be found outside the Big Names? #critlib
  143. .@melissa_hubbard I think the only thing to do is really push the "use" point -- an inclusive collection drives use. #critlib
  144. A3: Manuscripts help get at some of the missing voices, if they were literate. I'm trying to figure out how to better promote msc. #critlib
  145. Try to be as creative as poss w/in remit & stretch the boundaries. Also highlight what we already have, as place to build from. #critlib A3
  146. Q4. Can rare books be critical or radical? Can they be separated from capitalistic value?
  147. Q4. Can rare books be separated from capitalistic value/prestige factor? #critlib
  148. A4. Ours are already separated. Once acquired, state property! (Thank goodness). #critlib
  149. A4 my most satisfying work w/ is w/ the smaller, more ephemeral, and less visible collections— the ones that haven’t had attention #critlib
  150. (which isn’t to say I don’t love the ’treasures’, but the smaller/hidden things are more instructive about what we do) #critlib
  151. A3/2 - Aim low - my goal is to acquire, but gift/purchase/find laying around 50 rare books a year -do-able & list in annual report #critlib
  152. @ForgetTheMaine If inclusiveness could drive use, which is not guaranteed...yes? Prestige usually = use #critlib
  153. @agoodlibrarian the first folio sees almost daily use because it is so PRESTIGIOUS, every class session usually #critlib
  154. A4. One thing that's great about rare books is working with independent sellers. We are free of parasitic vendors. #critlib
  155. A4 - some of the best/most used materials we have cost us nothing - also digitization breaks down barriers #critlib
  156. A4: YES. Promote other value types: teaching, research, exhibition, inclusion, community documentation. So much more than prestige. #critlib
  157. A4 show value without making it about monetary value. What's culturally significant about your collection? #critlib  https://twitter.com/ForgetTheMaine/status/706928677288808450 
  158. Q4 i think to separate would require some radical thought reworking about what rare books are for #critlib
  159. A4. my fav thing is when a students draw attn to items no one else paid much mind to before (like this:  http://library.syr.edu/digital/guides/d/douglass_book.htm ) #critlib
  160. A4. For academics, the less "prestigious" can be a better research venture, as there's a higher likelihood of a "new" discovery. #critlib
  161. Funny thing is, people look at an old book and say, "How much is that worth?!?" They don't do the same for the db that cost 5x more #critlib
  162. A4- if you are able, digitization & hosting of newsletters and grey literature of organizations can be part of donor agreements #critlib
  163. A4. Prestige can be a useful outreach tool, though. Our most famous manuscript coll gets visitors, esp whenever we show the movie. #critlib
  164. A4. Of course. Content found in rare collections can & should be used to subvert dominant paradigms, just need to be discoverable. #critlib
  165. A4. I spend a lot of time saying "these are here for your use" to classes. Alumni, friends, uni paid for them. Humanities labwork. #critlib
  166. @lynnemthomas Yes! Everyone who comes in when I'm on the desk hears that this is ALL FOR THEM. They no doubt think I'm nuts. :-) #critlib
  167. .@lemurchild I have begun saying to every class "a little part of me dies inside if you don't come back before you graduate" #critlib
  168. A4 work to reinforce primary researchers, encourage them to go to other repositories after they are done with yours' #critlib
  169. Q4 i guess i kind of wonder if there's ever been a faceoff between a private collector and a repository #critlib
  170. @kellykietur Competing for stuff on the market? Likely. Faceoff for "ur doing it wrong"? Donor Agreements. Important. #critlib
  171. .@kellykietur That's easy: most money wins most often. Depends on scenario. #critlib
  172. @lynnemthomas @kellykietur There is always a ticking bomb above auctions...like if we don't get this now it'll go private
  173. @ForgetTheMaine @kellykietur We just don't do them and live with disappointment. Not enough money, too much red tape. #critlib
  174. a lot of these tweets support idea that getting deep into your own collections helps with outreach— I know it’s true for me #critlib
  175. A4 Be ok w deaccessioning? Especially if thing's not in your purview. Maybe in someone else's & you could transfer. #cooperation #critlib
  176. A4. Digitizing the prestigious takes away the "monetary value" aspect and refocuses on the value of the content. #critlib
  177. @marccold But you also lose some of the information - books are more than text on a page. #critlib
  178. Just had a fun comic idea--if you have photos of ppl handling rare books w/ or w/out gloves, can you share? #critlib
  179. A4 ...easier sad than done, I know, esp re: donor agreements. But maybe look into that. #critlib
  180. Conclusions
  181. Thanks for hosting a great chat @ForgetTheMaine! I liked thinking through promoting our RB in a non-capitalist, inclusive way #critlib
  182. As we wrap up #critlib, anyone willing to Storify today's chat? I don't have to convince *you* folks of the importance of archiving! 😉
  183. Thanks to @ForgetTheMaine for a great topic and doing an excellent job moderating #critlib for the first time!
  184. excuse self link, but if you’re interested: article co-written w/ curator on exploring arch/sc w/ students #critlib  http://surface.syr.edu/sul/140/ 
  185. Thanks #critlib, now I have to go prepare for an Arts and Crafts Movement class for retirees tomorrow!
  186. Okay, officially calling My First #critlib participation worth doing. Excellent discussion!
  187. Thanks @ForgetTheMaine for the thought-provoking questions and discussion! Will seek ways to work SC into instruction sessions #critlib
  188. Stumbled across super interesting #critlib discussion on #rarebooks #speccolls. Come away w at least 1 v useful idea (note to self: voices).
  189. Some fascinating #rarebooks discussion on #critlib tonight, especially about prestige and engagement.