ARLIS/NA Mid-Atlantic

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America

Month: February 2015

Corcoran Artists’ Books Collection at GW Libraries Special Collections Research Center

Horse hair, glass, metal screws, handmade paper, a cotton t-shirt—these are just some of the materials that compose the nearly three hundred artists’ books housed in the Corcoran Artists’ Books Collection at GW Libraries. Conceived by renowned artists such as Ed Ruscha or by up-and-coming artists from the Corcoran’s MA Art and the Book program, these art objects stretch the boundaries of what ‘book’ can mean: Alice Austin’s Milk, Butter, Eggs (2004) resembles a codex, but when opened reveals its accordion folds with illustrations of domestic scenes; Beth Thielen’s The Tower (2007) appears largely sculptural until small booklets unfold from its architectural, watch-tower-like form.   Thielen’s work, made in collaboration with women prisoners from San Quentin State Prison and the California Rehabilitation Centers, embodies the collection’s thematic focus of social justice and consciousness.

Beth Thielen, The Tower (2007); Photo by William Atkins / The George Washington University

Along with this focus on social issues, the collection’s primary purpose is as a teaching collection for book arts students. Each year the Artists’ Books Committee (made up of Art and the Book professors and students, and a librarian) identifies particular social justice issues, like LGBTQ rights or xenophobia, on which to concentrate for new purchases. The committee also selects formal aspects (e.g. flag books or box housings) which will support student work. In addition, the collection contains collaborative works by Art and the Book graduate students such as +/- One Percent (2010), and most recently, An Exquisite Future (2014); these works are published by Corcoran’s in-house publisher, Marginalia Press.

The Corcoran Artists’ Books Collection was slowly amassed over the past several decades by the Corcoran Library at the former Corcoran College of Art + Design—now the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design within The George Washington University. With the acquisition of the Corcoran Library by GW Libraries in 2014, this unique collection was transferred to its new home in GW’s Special Collections Research Center where individual students and class groups can view selected books upon request.

Alice Austin, Milk, Butter, Eggs (2004); Photo by William Atkins / The George Washington University

Alice Austin, Milk, Butter, Eggs (2004); Photo by William Atkins / The George Washington University

Right now through March 20th, you can view a selection of nineteen artists’ books from the Corcoran collection at GW’s Luther W. Brady Gallery. The exhibit entitled “Paper Window” presents a wide range of artist book categories, including photobooks, pop-ups, mixed media books, and altered books. The exhibit also features customized book housings and book-making tools on loan from the Art and the Book graduate program. Visit often as paged books will periodically have new spreads on display. Located on the second floor of GW’s Media and Public Affairs Building (805 21st Street, NW), the Brady Gallery is free and open to the public.

Shira Loev Eller
Art and Design Librarian
Gelman Library
The George Washington University

Upgrade for AtoM@DO, Dumbarton Oaks ICFA’s online database

One year ago today, the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) of Dumbarton Oaks launched our online database, AtoM@DO (atom.doaks.org). We are pleased to announce that we have upgraded to a new version (2.1) of the AtoM (Access to Memory) software, which features a redesigned interface and many enhancements for searching and browsing.

In response to feedback from our users, we sponsored development of new functionality within the Places taxonomy through AtoM lead developer Artefactual Systems. You can now browse a hierarchical list of geographic terms with a tree-view that allows you to navigate from broader terms to narrower terms. You can also browse an alphabetical list of places, or search within the taxonomy with a dedicated search box. A persistent Browse menu in the header gives you instant access to all of AtoM@DO’s taxonomies, whether Names, Places, or Subjects. These same access points are now prominently displayed at the top of all archival records, thereby facilitating discovery of related items.

AtoM@DO’s search engine has been enhanced with the implementation of Elasticsearch. Now, when you start a keyword search in the Search box located in the header, suggested matches will appear in real time, faceted by archival description, Names, Places, or Subjects. The search engine is responsive, so the more characters you type, more relevant results will appear dynamically. Additionally, Place terms assigned to archival descriptions will inherit their parent terms, so that searches for “Turkey” will automatically return results for “Istanbul.” AtoM@DO now includes more robust faceting of search results, so that you can narrow large sets quickly to target the most relevant results. Use the facet filters on the left-hand side of the search results page to limit your results by level of description, department, or creator, or by access points (Names, Places, and Subjects).

We hope that you will explore the new AtoM@DO, which contains many more enhancements that we hope will improve our users’ ability to locate archival materials at Dumbarton Oaks. We will continue to add content to AtoM@DO as we process and describe our collections. In the meantime, you can also discover our collections (processed and unprocessed) through a variety of channels, whether HOLLIS, WorldCat, or ArchiveGrid.

For more information on how to use the new features, please see the AtoM@DO FAQ page prepared by ICFA staff. Feel free contact us with any questions or feedback at icfa@doaks.org. We would especially like to thank our colleague, Prathmesh Mengane, Database and CMS Developer, whose dogged assistance made this upgrade possible.

~Shalimar Abigail Fojas White, Manager, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection