CritLib Chat: Visual Culture/Literacy

Description from CritLib page: "This chat will help us define visual literacy within our contexts and look at the ways critical librarianship can address the unique way visual information can impact and influence critical perspectives on the culture we live in."

  1. Getting ready for our #critlib chat on #vizlit! Just a few more minutes before we get started! Please feel free to introduce yourself!
  2. You can find all the questions for this evening's #critlib on visual culture (along with great resources) here: 
  3. Before the chat began, a few folks offered some relevant works to assist in further investigation into visual literacy and culture!
  4. We started with a nice set of introductions from participants.
  5. Hi! This is @ArchivistAriel, chair of AMIA's Access Committee & tweeting fr the @AMIAnet acct tonight, participating in the #critlib chat!
  6. This is Jenna, librarian who wears three hats at @barnlib. Tweeting from NYC, supervised by my cat Farfel. #critlib
  7. Hi #critlib! Librarian, cartoonist, poet, teacher here, @UWMadisonSLIS, work at DLF, have taught visual thinking, visual literacy, comics.
  8. My name is Lauren. I work in an academic library in Michigan. This is my first #critlib chat, though I've lurked before.
  9. Hi #critlib! I'm Ryan, a community college librarian in Boise & Nampa, Idaho. Into tonight's topic! Might try more gifs & jpgs than usual?
  10. Hi #critlib! Image technologies & visual literacy librarian at IU Fine Arts Library. Pumped for this chat, it's literally in my job title!!
  11. Hi #critlib Academic librarian in California, also MA/former faculty in/liaison to Museum Studies.
  12. Good evening, #critlib! I'm Stephanie, an art librarian in Savannah, GA.
  13. Hi #critlib! New MLIS grad, all about visual stuffs--very excited for the chat!
  14. #critlib chat starting now! All are welcome! Acad instruction lib*n RT-ing and faving from toddler bedtime. 😻💖🌟🔁 
  15. Hi it's Emily from Chicago! Ready to learn and chat about #vizlit #critlib
  16. Hi #critlib! I'm Patricia, an art librarian in Savannah. I do reference and instruction.
  17. Hi #critlib! Seems appropriate that I'm late tonight because I was at #imagineOregonState, an outpost of the US Dept of Arts and Culture
  18. So many art librarians! Thanks for the shout out @arlisnap @ARLIS_NA ! #critlib I'll be curious what pub lib* have to say about this topic.
  19. I'll also be moderating tonight; sending out the first Q in 5 min after we get thru introductions. So so excited for this topic. #critlib
  21. Q1 How do you define visual literacy and how does visual lit impact and influence our library spaces, intellectually/physically? #critlib
  22. One of the opening answers introduced independently produced texts & the added value of the visual within what used to be considered temporal or "throwaway" materials.
  23. Since folks are slow to respond to #critlib Q1: Learning to read zines visually as well as textually deepened my understanding of them.
  24. A1. I think of visual literacy more in terms of museums. Housen and Yenawine's Visual Thinking Strategies  #critlib
  25. Q1 for me visual literacy is abt the ability to find *and* create meaning/info thru the visual, thru image #critlib
  26. A1 how to read images. I'm thinking via art historical teaching. And it influences us ALL the time #critlib
  27. Late to chat...A1 visual literacy involves close observation & analysis #critlib
  28. #critlib A1: Visual literacy is about understanding what's being communicated explicitly--but also about understanding absence.
  29. A1 now it's more interdisciplinary and about visual communication than anything else #critlib #vizlit #librarianlens
  30. The idea of visual literacy being concentrated more upon analysis and synthesis and less on production is brought up.
  31. #critlib A1 w/my art historian background, visual literacy focuses much more on the looking and understanding than the making
  32. #critlib A1 I think a lot about what I learned in my Christian Iconography seminar, how much can be encoded in images
  33. It is noted that guidelines are critical but they may hold you back from the greater range or strength that can be explored from a given set of visual images. Allow yourself some flexibility.
  34. Q1 I try to stick with #vislit ACRL guidelines for assessment purposes, but try not to rule any other definitions out #critlib
  35. A1: info is everywhere and not just text based. it is important to interrogate all we see with a critical eye. #critlib
  36. A1 visual literacy=so expansive at this point. As a media archivist I'm seeing it grow from drawings & photos to videogames. #critlib #tech
  37. A1. Some of it is questioning what's behind the image, beyond "I know what I like" to examine the artist's choices. #critlib
  38. And we have a great use of visual literacy and culture to close out question 1 with an image from John Carpenter's classic They Live (1988), a film that is entirely about visual culture and the way that we "see."
  39. A1 #vizlit ≈ adept with interpreting rhetoric of images, visual representation, prob also context/culture? #critlib
    A1 #vizlit ≈ adept with interpreting rhetoric of images, visual representation, prob also context/culture? #critlib
  40. QUESTION 1, PT 2:
  41. Second pt of Q1: how does visual lit impact and influence our library spaces, intellectually/physically? #critlib
  42. It appears that no matter whether you are a librarian or an archivist, whether you are dealing with moving images or still images/slides, space management and digitization is a major issue that concerns the entire preservation/information community (although ignoring may not be the answer).
  43. A1.2 - how do we store, hide, ignore, acknowledge, digitize all these old slides/laminated images? #critlib
  44. A1p2: as an archivist, it has significantly changed the manner in which we deal with storage, space & ways to manage collections. #Critlib
  45. The topic of evolving the library's physical space visually was one that allowed participants to exchange ideas & discuss things that they have personally considered in their work experience.
  46. A1 p2 so much! From signage to books we communicate a lot through those images & we have to keep that in mind #critlib
  47. Second part of Q1: Things to look at. Color. Light. Image and text collections. Using the chalk/smartboard for visual learners #critlib
  48. A1. Lots of museum resource centers combine books, objects that can be handled, activities to engage and spark discussion. #critlib
  49. We began to investigate how library space and visual literacy can be connected to privilege and representation. We explored ways to restructure visual landscapes so that they would be supportive and representative of a racially and culturally diverse community.
  50. Q1pt2 I have zero control of physical lib space but try to make hidden collections visible w/ digitization/cataloging/exhibits #critlib
  51. This=an excellent way to platform unseen works or advocate collections that need that added "push"! #access #critlib 
  52. There are some ethical q's around visual info! Also for me, thinking abt whose art gets highlighted. #critlib 
  53. A2 visuals communicate cultural context. How do we ensure that culture is relatable / inclusive? #critlib
  54. #critlib A1.2 so much in our lib spaces is there to communicate visually--what are we saying and NOT saying and purposefully excluding?
  55. #critlib A1:Important to note also how visual information can propagate misinformation in situations where other literacies may be lacking.
  56. A1 #vizlit has potential to impact our library spaces physically thru: Signage, creating handouts, spacial design, web design, etc. #critlib
  57. And intellectually/as instructors: How we use visual elements may help and hinder learning, accessibility, and approachability. #critlib
  58. A1.2 What students see, portraits of people not like them, signage that reifies hierarchy and authority. Welcoming or exclusive? #critlib
  59. @bethhoppe Choices don't have to be exclusive. Signage can include and name different voices. Portraits can rep more broadly. #critlib
  60. @lisahubbell Agreed, current state of affairs reflects poorly here. #critlib
  61. A2 As with other resources, who is represented, & how? Also, to whom & how are we communicating visually / culturally? #critlib
  62. #critlib A2: Crucial to organize visual information in a way that not only discusses perceived differences, but also acknowledges sameness
  63. A2 Just as we look for bias in scholarly information, it is important to identify bias in visual information. #critlib #vizlit
  64. Q2 also questions about #vizlit and vision impairment? how do you reconcile with visual media? #critlib
  65. @bethhoppe I was wondering that, too! Is there a disability studies approach to #vizlit? #critlib
  66. #critlib A2: Also crucial to note visual literacy is inherenlty an accessibility issue in the actual ability to see. Ex. ADA compliant sites
  67. Before we closed out Q3, the topic of bridging communities came up...
  68. A2 I don't see many people teaching #vizlit or a semblance of it. I like the interdisciplinary POV & think that would be good angle #critlib
  69. A2 analysis of graphic items in instruction =👍. Students are kinda used to doc analysis, not so w images. #critlib 
  70. A2: another critical issue=being able to intersect info science communities on visual issues. We don't mingle enough to discuss. #critlib
  71. QUESTION 3:
  72. Q3 How have you learned of critical issues w/in visual culture/how do you share visual lit-related skills/concepts with colleagues? #critlib
  73. A3 I feel like this is a constantly evolving & collaborative process. I miss things that others see all the time and vice versa. #critlib
  74. A3 Attending VTS training next month ( ) Will teach workshops to teaching faculty & librarians on campus #critlib
  75. @kellymce @bethhoppe Boston @museumofscience and others do lots of visitor research for universal design of exhibits. #critlib
  76. A3 oh, I'm thinking of times signage or emoji have come up in meetings, and bridging "what the kids these days think" conversations #critlib
  77. A3 we have a great ComD program & have discussed working w students to redesign lib logo & signage. #critlib
  78. Was asked last week to explain Pinterest to Apparel Merch faculty. They are worried about sources and replicating searches #critlib
  79. Q3 Working at an art school helps! Talking to Art His profs & others in visual libs too & having an art his degree helps 2 #critlib
  80. Again, the topic of lack of interdisciplinary contact is raised & the topic of specialized labor becomes a topic. Having special classes in one's background or access to Special Collections colleagues is a bonus. But what if that is not an option?
  81. A3: w/in the film/media archiving comm, I have to reach out to librarian communities/colleagues. This=problematic. Where is collab? #critlib
  82. A3 Film studies & media classes. Also reading lots of @giant_robot w high school friends made me aware of representation & #vizlit? #critlib
  83. A3 Best ally for #vizlit has been spec coll colleagues. So much to unpack from archival sources #critlib
  84. .@bethhoppe Right!! And as an media archivist, that is exactly why I feel like our communities should be hanging out more, right? #critlib
  85. @bethhoppe so true!! And visual bleeds into tactile/physical so much in special collections. #critlib
  86. A3: in my landscape, all we DO is visual-based. We need more interdisciplinary bridgework. #critlib #letsbefriends
  87. A3 I'd like to do more w sharing #vizlit instruction strategies bc it isn't taught in library school/outside of the arts it seems #critlib
  88. Next, a dialogue about graphic novels/comic books & "non-traditional" visuals like emojis. This discussion centered on critical issues of race and privilege, offering valuable links to articles about emoticons and their meanings.
  89. Q2 also, differing modes of viz lit: not just photos + charts! #critlib
  90. Q2 one of the things I want to talk about more is image manipulation, especially viz. body image + airbrushing, skin colour, etc. #critlib
  91. Q2: Consider comics as an example: not everyone knows how to read them (well). (is this creeping towards #metaliteracy?) #critlib
  92. And how assumptions that snake people don't read has a complementary assumption that they are wowed/taken in by visuals #critlib
  93. My pre-reading 4 year old is in love with Owly, low-text graphic novel. Amazing for learning narrative. #critlib 
  94. @stephliana Yes! @scottmccloud Understanding Comics opened my eyes. Chose to read it for paper in Library Management class. #critlib
  95. I think about representation on our magazine covers more than anything these days. access to Photoshop = fluency in visual lies. #critlib
  96. A3 oh, I'm thinking of times signage or emoji have come up in meetings, and bridging "what the kids these days think" conversations #critlib
  97. Like, adding non-white skin tones to emoji is a case study of visual representation, right? #critlib
  98. . @kellymce looking at emojis also begins to dive into ideas of power and privilege of what images we get to use in Emoji Land. #critlib
  99. @hailthefargoats and how do you make do when someone else controls the symbols? #critlib
  100. It's not discomfort; it's the power of whiteness as the norm. WP id w/the yellow tone as their own. #critlib 
  101. Various other conversation was had simply about visual literacy and communications - like typography.
  102. #critlib A3 so many disc. need visual literacy--even typefaces communicate visual information. Any Comic Sans haters out there?
  103. there's a graphic design =professionalism =privilege (access to resources) continuum, too. perfect layout gets your resume noticed. #critlib
  104. Yes! Realizing how polish => power (and is often predicated on privilege) is important to #vizlit & making! #critlib 
  105. but if we only offer Word at the public library, how will underprivileged patrons get a chance to even try out inDesign? #critlib
  106. QUESTION 4:
  107. Last one! Q4 How do you teach or address specific visual literacy concepts/issues within your community and library? #critlib
  108. I love the way this topic has been stretched and pushed in ways I couldn't have expected! #critlib #vizlit = <3
  109. A4 As #scholcomm librn I do a lot of outreach on the importance of citing visual sources. Plagiarism is a real prob at all levels. #critlib
  110. A4: working with zines is a great opportunity for #vizlit. I ask students how images complement or complicate the text. #critlib
  111. A4 as the designated #vizlit librarian on my campus, I sneak it in everywhere I go. Also tend to get invited 2 cool committees #critlib
  112. My job is so new (created 1yr ago!) so there are no guidelines. It makes it easy for me to collaborate with anyone and everyone #critlib
  113. A4 I don't get to teach formally, but with front-desk Qs, I enthuse about The Noun Project + Commons when they ask about clipart. #critlib
  114. During this question, everyone shared a variety of different projects, while two individuals discussed working with silent films as a way to establish visual literacy and engagement.
  115. Q4: I did a whole workshop with elementary students with silent short films: #vizlit and how to tell a story with pictures #critlib
  116. Q4 i have students explore library stuff as archaeological artifact what do they glean from what they see and how to engage with it #critlib
  117. Also sometimes ask then to watch films with no sound, what do they see that gives context #critlib
  118. . @bethhoppe silent films allow people to focus on how a story is told without words which is a powerful skill to have #critlib
  119. @hailthefargoats Yes, so good! Asking them to reflect on the same piece as only visual, sound, or transcript can be powerful #critlib
  120. Others shared documents for all to access! Great opportunities to learn from each other as a community and share ideas.
  121. A4 this is super subjective, mind you, but has helped me come up with lessons and objectives that tie in multiple concepts #critlib
  122. A4 @stephliana & I developed an anti-stereotypical character dev workshop for comm arts students--which was fun and tied in #critlib
  123. A2 We have a set of pre-digital altered print photographs that we use in instruction in archives. #critlib #vizlit
  124. A2 analysis of graphic items in instruction =👍. Students are kinda used to doc analysis, not so w images. #critlib 
  125. @kcrowe Yes! (Are the distinctions btw "creative" and "factual" text-based works more obvious to them than in visual works?) #critlib
  126. A4: teaching students to read (visually) the search interfaces they are using to explore their topics for rhetorical info #critlib #vizlit
  127. #critlib A4 there are so many VL things I'm itching to teach--emoji, political ads, instagram (& creator rights), etc times infinity
  128. A4 ideally I'd like to run programs on photo-editing + design/layout basics, pitch it as a job skill that can boost one's resume #critlib
  129. #critlib A4: I tell my students that they are free and able to complicate the potential interpretations of any and all visual information
  130. I recommend looking at people like @footage & his work on, well, ANYTHING. His writings & films capture visual culture perfectly. #critlib
  131. A4 It's not quite teaching #vizlit, but I intentionally use gifs in my slides in order to make ideas (& library) more relatable. #critlib
  132. A4.1 We're also planning to install GIMP (free, akin to Photoshop) on laptops students can borrow (whenever they finally arrive…). #critlib
  133. I also recc that people attend @homemovieday when it happens & bring their home movies. It=participatory & functions as community. #critlib
  134. Q4 w/comm arts students, I have them consider the sources they draw from- what can they tell from just the images? what's missing? #critlib
  135. Q4 as @AcornElectric said, also built a workshop to consider stereotype/representation in images, and the histories of THOSE images #critlib
  136. Out of curiosity, anyone have experience with the International Visual Literacy Association? ( ) #critlib
  137. A4 I would love to know what others have in mind for archival visual resources, esp. photo/video digitization + sharing. #critlib
  138. @Shhh_Librarian @nora_almeida I think there's a TON of critical reflection in museum studies that libraries can learn from. #critlib
  139. Thanks so much for this UH-MAZING chat, #critlib!!! I feel like I have so much to think about and I welcome any follow up chats/emails/ideas
  140. Thank you @AcornElectric and everyone else! Got lots of new thoughts on some displays I'm doing... #critlib
  141. Belated #critlib thoughts - visuality is main factor in my selection for digitization but criminal justice scholarship doesn't value #vizlit
  142. And now, since this was a chat about visual literacy, let's have a look at all the fabulous gifs & goodbyes that everyone tweeted!
  143. This #critlib was awesome. Now trying to find the perfect gif to express my delight.
  144. Many thanks to @AcornElectric and all #critlib contributors tonight, for mashing my worlds together and bringing up new perspectives.
  145. Hahahaha! Next time the chat on #vizlit should be all awesome gifs!!!! #critlib