Visit Charles Library to see our latest exhibit highlighting a few of our collections.
8 staff members; 18 stories
Collecting and organizing collections may have slowed a little during the pandemic, but that work did not stop altogether. SCRC staff believe we consistently acquire collections with significant research value—they’re all ‘great’ by definition. These staff picks are purchases and donations from individuals and organizations that represent our collecting strengths, caught our fancy, have already been used for research and instruction—or should provide the ‘next’ research project for a fortunate user.
URBAN ARCHIVES Asian Arts Initiative Records, 1992-2018 Caroline R. Johnson Mackie Ledger and Diary, 1906-1908 Masonic Lodge, “Welcome,” No. 453, Philadelphia, Pa., Records, 1869-1890 Philadelphia Zoo Records, 1859-2017 Philco Oral History Project Files, 1930s-50s, 1988-89 Society Hill Playhouse Records, 1938-2016 Tasty Baking Company Records, 1930-2006
PHILADELPHIA JEWISH ARCHIVES Jewish Community Relations Council Records, 1920-2004 Shaindele di Chazante Collection, 1929-1968
MANUSCRIPTS “Great Britain Statement of Conditions Permitting Trade with the West Indies,” December 15, 1801 “Stratto del pagamento dello gabella delle porti della citta di Firenze,” after 1423 Jazūlī, Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān (1404-1465), جزولي، محمد بن سليمان “Dalāʼil al-khayrāt wa shawāriq al-anwār fī dhikr al-ṣalāh ʻalá al-nabī al-mukhtār,“ دلائل الخيرات و شوارق الانوار في ذكر الصلاة على النبي المختار, Egypt, 1801
CONTEMPORARY CULTURE COLLECTION Craig Lentz Public History Ephemera Collection, 1952-2015 Youth Liberation Press Records, 1967-2002
UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES/URBAN ARCHIVES/ CONTEMPORARY CULTURE COLLECTION John Groutt Commune Research Materials, 1969-1971
With thanks to SCRC staff members Casey Babcock, Brenda Galloway-Wright, Josué Hurtado, Katy Rawdon, Margery Sly, Courtney Smerz, Kim Tully, and Holly Wilson for their ‘picks,’ and to Ann Mosher for graphic design and production.
When the new Charles Library opened in August 2019, the librarians and archivists who do instruction using the Special Collections Research Center collections were perhaps most excited about the new classroom adjacent to the department (Multipurpose Room 113). In the SCRC’s old space in Paley Library, instruction classes were almost always conducted in the reading room, which was never an ideal situation.
In the new classroom in Charles, which accommodates around 40 people comfortably, we are able to welcome faculty and students without disturbing our individual researchers in the reading room. In addition, the new classroom space has movable tables and chairs which allows for a variety of setups for display of materials and seating during classes. Standard classroom technology in the form of a projection system and a large screen were also a major upgrade to our existing instruction infrastructure. And, finally, an overhead document or “eye in the sky” camera that enables instructors to project images of physical materials, a page of a rare volume or an archival document in real time, was installed this spring to complete the instructional technology in the space.
The first class held in the new space in Charles was Alyssa Piro’s Artist Books, Zines and Independent Publishing (ARTU 2351) on September 10, 2019. The class was co-facilitated by Kimberly Tully, Curator of Rare Books in the SCRC, and Jill Luedke, Art and Architecture Librarian in Learning and Research Services. The plan for the class was an online introduction to zine culture, copyright, and Creative Commons using the screen and projection system, and then students were invited to browse a selection of zines from the SCRC displayed on the tables in the physical space. This collaboration between librarians to provide both context for class-specific materials and access to the materials themselves has been made much easier in the new classroom.
Throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, the SCRC continued to welcome back returning classes and welcome new faculty and students from a variety of academic departments, including History, English, Photography, Printmaking, Art History, Political Science, Criminal Justice, Latin, Intellectual Heritage, Latin American Studies, Geography and Urban Studies, Journalism, Media Studies, Sociology, and Dance. We also continued to welcome classes from area institutions such as the University of the Arts , Bryn Mawr College, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Depending on the nature of the course and the learning objective for the visit, SCRC instructors were able to use technology seamlessly to introduce students to the SCRC and how to access materials and, through the department website, the Libraries’ catalog, finding aids, and digital collections. Instructors were also able to display materials in a variety of different room configurations to facilitate student hands-on assignments and engagement. The concept of a “humanities laboratory” came alive again in the SCRC classroom this year in Charles.
The importance of the new space is reflected in use statistics. During the fall 2019 semester, we welcomed 59 instruction sessions, each individually tailored to the courses’ syllabi and the instructors’ needs. In the shortened Spring 2020 semester, we offered 39 sessions before mid-March.
The new dedicated classroom in Charles Library has transformed the Special Collections Research Center’s instructional services, but with new opportunities come new challenges. In March 2020, when all classes at Temple moved to online instruction amidst the COVID-19 pandemic response, many of our scheduled class visits for the final weeks of classes were cancelled or altered. We were able to assist some faculty and students in wrapping up their on-site research in the final weeks of on-campus instruction. And in at least two instances since mid-March, SCRC instructors have maintained their commitment to primary source literacy by presenting SCRC materials during a class session over Zoom and by interacting with students and faculty in Canvas. While we look forward to connecting students and faculty with our collections in a physical space once again soon, SCRC staff are also exploring how we will continue to adapt. Like many special collections repositories, we have some digital collections to draw upon to support both individual research and online instruction, and SCRC public services and instruction staff continue to be available to answer remote research questions and assist in online instruction. Please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
One of the ongoing missions of the Special Collections Research Center is to use our collections to enhance the teaching, learning, and research activities in the undergraduate curriculum at Temple. Over the course of spring semester 2016, the SCRC has hosted over twenty five classes representing a variety of departments and programs on campus.
A recent visit by Professor John Dern’s Intellectual Heritage Honors Mosaic Humanities Seminar, a required general education course in the College of Liberal Arts, gave us the opportunity to highlight some treasures from our rare book collections and gave the students an opportunity to see and turn the pages of first editions of Galileo and Mary Wollstonecraft.
The goal of the Seminar is to “introduce students to philosophical, political and scientific texts that are challenging in at least one of several ways: rhetorically, historically or culturally.” In Professor Dern’s section, students read Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger), Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women, and Thucydides’ On Justice, Power and Human Nature, among other assigned texts. When the students visited in early April, we pulled Temple’s first editions of Galileo’s final work, Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche, intorno à due nuoue scienze, printed in 1638 in Leiden, and the first edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s seminal proto-feminist work, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, printed in London in 1792. Connecting their class reading of Galileo’s most famous work to how his later works appeared in the European marketplace in the early 17th century provides an invaluable lesson in early modern scientific discovery, censorship, and the dissemination of information across the European continent.
In addition to the first edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s landmark text advocating equal education opportunities and related 18th century texts, the students also engaged with a 15th century manuscript on the lives of the ancient philosophers, a 16th century edition in Greek of the Roman historian Appian, and an 1804 illustrated volume depicting the punishment of criminals in China according to the Qing penal code. Students were encouraged to turn the pages of these texts, ask questions, and even snap pictures with their always-handy smartphones. Exposure to the physical artifacts of the texts they’re studying in class brings the students closer to an understanding of how the texts entered the cultural marketplace, the historical record, and our collective, intellectual heritage.
Another of our late semester class visits provided a different kind of connection to the physical book format for the students. In mid-April, Professor Marianne Dages brought her Tyler School of Art Foundation program class in 2D Foundation Principles to the SCRC to view a selection from our large artists’ books collection. For their own final book-making projects in the class, students were asked to incorporate both a strong use of color and interesting book structures. The selections pulled from the collection provided both examples of strong color technique and unique structures, as well as inspiration for the students’ own work. Just as in the Humanities Seminar, the smartphones were put to good use documenting what they saw for future reference!
Whether a class visit to see the SCRC’s print collection enhances the contextual understanding of class readings or directly influences student work, it does prove that the physical book form is still an integral part of undergraduate teaching and learning at Temple.
Please join us for an exhibit and discussion centered around Liber Mundi, a series of artists’ book and zine exhibitions featuring 13 international artists. For the Liber Mundi series, artists are creating original works that explore the contemporary book form.
Ángela Sánchez de Vera – Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico
Christopher Kardambikis – Brooklyn, New York, United States
Conor Crumley – Portland, Oregon, United States
J. Pascoe – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Janine Biunno – Brooklyn, New York, United States
Jessica Gatlin – Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
Juan Pascoe – Tacámbáro, Michoacán, Mexico
Katherine Pulido – San Francisco, California, United States
Katja Pál – Lendava, Mura, Slovenia
Lee Hunter – New York, New York, United States
Magda Wegrzyn – Mokotów, Warsaw, Poland
Oona Tikkaoja – Turku, Finland
Sarah Hulsey – Somerville, Massachusetts, United States
One of our primary missions at the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) is to support research, teaching, and learning through the use of the materials in our collection. This semester we’ve had over two dozen classes and hundreds of students pass through the doors of our reading room, and many more have come on their own to conduct further research on a diverse array of topics and disciplines such as architecture, history, urban studies, visual studies, education, dance, film and media arts, criminal justice, and journalism.
This semester J. Pascoe, a Philadelphia-based artists and instructor at Tyler School of Art, brought her Visual Studies and Graphic Art and Design classes into the SCRC, so that her students could interact with and explore some of our artists’ books and zine holdings.
When asked what value she placed in class visits to the SCRC, Pascoe says that “I bring my students to the SCRC because as an artist, an educator, and–frankly–as a human moving through this world, it behooves me to know what other people around me are making and doing. It’s not enough to pay attention to only what your friends or colleagues are doing. As artists, it’s important to know what’s being made out there and why.”
“More specifically, students come to my class wanting to make books and zines. They want to make things with their hands and they, ideally, want other people to hold finished work in their hands. We talk a lot about hand skills and hand work in my classes, so it’s no surprise I champion taking opportunities with my students to put our hands on other people’s work, too. To be able to hold books and zines and spend time with them–that’s where some real learning happens. I see more ‘light bulbs’ moments happen in collections and archives than in studio spaces.”
Student work inspired by their visits to the SCRC can be found on a class blog for Visual Studies 4554. This is just one example of how the SCRC continues to support teaching and learning on the Temple campus and beyond.
-Josué Hurtado, Coordinator of Public Services & Outreach
In 2006, as a tribute to the World Trade Center victims on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, book artist Werner Pfeiffer created Out of the Sky: 9/11. A constructed book, it consists of a series of segments, illustrated by woodcut images of falling victims and their names. When assembled, the book represents a model of the World Trade Center and is over 5 feet tall. As the book is deconstructed for storage, that action mirrors the falling of the towers. The book includes Pfeiffer’s written reflections, colored by his childhood in World War II Germany and his memories of witnessing the towers’ collapse from Pratt Institute’s rooftop in Brooklyn.
Temple University Libraries’ Special Collection Research Center houses number 41 of the limited edition of 52. View the book in Paley Library lobby on Friday, September 11, 2015.
See a youtube video of Pfeiffer discussing Out of the Sky, or read more about Pfeiffer in Jonathan Rinck’s International Sculpture Center blog.
The over seven hundred artists’ books housed in the Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center are a rich resource for Temple faculty and students in a variety of art and humanities disciplines. Artists’ books often defy standard descriptions but are broadly described as any work of original art created in book format or which takes the book as its primary mode of expression. Students, many from the Tyler School of Art, studying topics such as book structures, narrative, 2D foundation principles, and book arts in general, have visited the SCRC reading room to explore and be inspired by examples from the SCRC’s collection.
In the first weeks of this fall semester, there are already three different courses, two from the Graphic and Interactive Design program in Tyler and one from the English department, whose instructors have integrated the use of SCRC’s artists’ books into their syllabuses. Collecting artists’ books and making them available to users serves our mission to collect, preserve, and make accessible unique materials to enrich teaching and learning at Temple.
The artists’ books collection, which includes titles from the former library at Tyler School of Art, has grown exponentially over the last few years with several new titles added annually. The following artists’ books have recently been added to the SCRC’s collections, and we invite users to visit them.
The artists’ book shown above demonstrates the often whimsical quality of the book arts. Created by Guy Himber, Clock Work Fish is made entirely from LEGOs and consists of illustrations printed on vinyl pages. It is fully functional and consists of over 200 LEGO parts. More information and images can be found in the Libraries’ catalog record.
Another recent acquisition, this artists’ book by an Egyptian artist, Islam Mahmoud Mohamed Aly, is entitled Echoes. It is a finely wrought piece of craftsmanship, combining a traditional Coptic binding with the modern technology of laser engraved image and laser etched wooden boards. Inspired by the chants of protestors during the Egyptian Spring of 2011, the Arabic words for Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice are repeated throughout the design. More information and images can be found in the Libraries’ catalog record.
Unlike the first two examples which fuse unusual materials and illustrative techniques with the familiar codex structure, this artists’ book by Alicia Bailey entitled Cosmeceutical Collection, uses non-traditional “book” structures in the form of cosmetic containers, including an eyeshadow case, a mascara wand, and a compact case, to house her three miniature books. Bailey writes of the work: “…given my mistrust of both consumerism and culturally dictated notions of female beauty, I am also repulsed by these shrines to artificial beauty.” This title is so new to the collection that it’s not yet cataloged, but will be available soon.
Curator of Rare Books
Special Collections Research Center