We’re living in unprecedented times. Protesters are speaking out against the murder of George Floyd, police brutality, and systemic racism. The UI Libraries’ Special Collections plans to pursue a careful approach toward archiving the protests in our community. We recognize potential pitfalls in a white institution rushing to collect materials about marginalized communities of color, problems such as collecting to “check the box” or collections that hurt or mischaracterize communities of color. We also recognize the problems with archival silence. Our efforts will be a three-tiered approach designed to expand authentically and ethically over time:
Gather photos.We are both taking and collecting photographs of graffiti around town and campus. These are photos of protest evidence that do not include people. We are not soliciting photographs of protests or protesters out of concern for protecting their identities.
Listen by reaching out to existing relationships within communities of color.We are working with pre-existing institutional and individual connections through three staff members who have long-established relationships with individuals in our community.
Erik Henderson, a student worker in Iowa Women’s Archives (IWA) and Special Collections, is reaching out to his connections, including campus and community groups.
David McCartney, the UI Libraries’ University Archivist, is reaching out to several connections.
Janet Weaver, assistant curator in IWA is reaching out to LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens).
Wait for material to come in down the road.This is a tried-and-true measure for us that allows us to expand our collections organically as we build connections with individuals and with organizations over time, not overnight.
The University of Iowa Libraries has awarded 12 grants for Open Educational Resource (OER) projects for the 2020-2021 academic year. OpenHawks is a campus-wide grant program that funds faculty efforts to replace current textbooks with OERs for enhanced student success.
The funded OER projects, which were selected through a competitive application process, will benefit students in a wide range of disciplines, including fine arts, English as a second language, neurobiology, political science, foreign languages, communication sciences and disorders, education, communications, and biostatistics.
OER (such as textbooks, videos, assessment tools, lab books, research materials, or interactive course modules) are free for students to use. The 2020-2021 OER projects will save UI students $171,000 in the first year alone. Removing cost barriers to course materials opens student access and positively impacts learning.
The value of OER extends to the wider academic community, since they carry legal permission for open use. The open licenses under which these items are released allow any user at any institution to create, reuse, and redistribute copies of the resources.
OER provide further benefit when faculty fully integrate free resources into their curricula by “remixing” or tailoring materials to enhance specific learning objectives.
Stephanie Dowda DeMer OER creation grant: $4,700. Title: Material Encounters.
Material Encounters is a textbook that will fill significant gaps in the research and presentation of alternative photography processes and theory. It achieves this by bringing together traditionally siloed information regarding process, theory, and interdisciplinary practice into one text to serve student research and faculty pedagogy. The textbook will include interviews with female-identifying and queer artists who innovate alternative processes and use their practices to address social, environmental, or personal issues.
Craig Dresser OER creation grant: $8,200. Title: Elements of Academic Writing
This text will help ESL students understand the purposes of writing assignments and their common component. This approach relies heavily on decision-making, informed by consideration of the context around the assignment. It aims to increase the students’ understanding and efficacy in the ways in which they communicate with their teachers through academic writing. In the end, students should be empowered to take on any manner of writing assignment, confident in their ability to communicate effectively.
Mei-Ling Joiner and Jason Hardie OER creation grant: $8,200. Title: A Centralized Online OER for Introduction to Neurobiology
Joiner and Hardie are developing a neurobiology OER to better align with the course as it is currently taught and to save students significant money on textbook costs. Existing textbooks for this course almost exclusively follow a molecule to whole organism approach, but the course begins with whole organism, then later addresses molecular level mechanisms, which invites the interest of students newly encountering neurobiology.
Courtney Juelich OER creation grant: $3,000. Title: Online Videos for Introduction to American Politics
By developing an online lecture system, students will replace the current $200 textbook with online video lectures and come to class ready to show comprehension and critical thinking through a discussion-based class. Teaching students of all majors about the basis of the United States government’s innerworkings, and the history of its laws is essential for our students’ growth and for our democracy.
Irene Lottini, Lucia Gemmani, Claudia Sartini-Rideout Course redesign grant: $2,000. Title: E-textbook and Workbook for Elementary Italian
The authors are planning to redesign this sequence to better help our students achieve the CLAS GE Program Outcomes and be prepared for programs abroad. The goal is to create an e-textbook and a workbook that will fulfill the two main objectives of redesigned courses: supporting students’ acquisition of the grammar and vocabulary that ensure meaningful communication and enhancing students’ familiarity with Italian culture. This project is co-funded by OTLT.
Stewart McCauley and Jean Gordon Course redesign grant: $2,000. Title: OER Redesign of Basic Neuroscience for Speech and Hearing
The authors will design a textbook that integrates topics in communication disorders with foundational concepts in neuroscience. This can best be achieved by using OER materials from a variety of domains—especially taking advantage of the wealth of freely available online audiovisual case illustrations—to better interweave normal and disordered processes. This project is co-funded by OTLT.
Mark McDermott OER creation grant: $8,200. Title: Developing an OER Toolkit for Science Methods Courses
McDermott will work with former students to develop an Open Educational Resource Toolkit that provides background information about the argument-based pedagogical approach the class explores, tools for planning units based on this pedagogical approach, supplemental resources for supporting science conceptual understanding, and sample activity plans for the experiences engaged in during the courses.
Sylvia Mikucki-Enyart OER creation grant: $8,200 Title: Sexual Communication in Personal Relationships
The primary objective of this project is to create a no-cost, accessible, interactive, and flexible textbook and companion materials (e.g., activities, study guides) that enhance UI students’ theoretical understanding of sexual communication and increase their sexual communication efficacy to engage in sexual communication tasks (e.g., conversations surrounding consent, safe sex practices).
Swahili teaching and learning materials have relied on traditional textbooks, some of which lack listening materials. Listening is one of the most important skills in foreign language teaching and learning. The Swahili Online Course will be a proficiency-based teaching and learning resource for elementary levels and will provide interactive activities based on listening to native speakers of Swahili. Students will have an opportunity to listen and react to the video and audio in different ways, such as speaking, writing, reading, and identifying culture.
Caitlin Ward and Collin Nolte OER creation grant: $6,000. Title: Simulation Based Inference in Introductory Biostatistics
The American Statistical Association (ASA) recommends that introductory statistics education focuses on conceptual understanding, with an emphasis on technology and real data. Statistics education often places priorities on an antiquated view of the former, with symbolic manipulation and contrived examples taking priority over data exploration and statistical thinking, and BIOS:4120 is no different. Both the ASA recommendations and the advances in pedagogical literature on active learning bring to the forefront the need to restructure this course. The authors’ proposal aims to meet this need by developing a new resource, which empowers students to achieve a higher level of understanding through the use of technology and real-world data.
Sang-Seok Yoon and Joung-A Park OER creation grant: $8,200. Title: Developing a Textbook for First Year Korean Course
The objective of developing this resource is to make students’ learning experience more active, fun and challenging, and to reduce students’ financial burden of purchasing the textbook used in First Year Korean: First Semester. This textbook is an essential part of the class for self-study in addition to attending lectures and doing exercises in the class.
Giovanni Zimotti and Alexis Jimenez Candia OER creation grant: $8,200. Title: Intermediate Spanish II: Spanish for Healthcare
The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is undertaking efforts to redesign the GE CLAS Core sequence of Spanish. The aim is to modernize the curriculum offered to meet the needs of 21st century students and to better prepare them in their future careers. As part of this redesign, it is paramount to develop materials that are meaningful for the specific type of students that will be taking this course. Unfortunately, the commercially available textbook we currently use is very expensive for students and outdated. This project aims to create an OER textbook that is personalized to the educational needs of the students of Spanish Intermediate II: Spanish for Healthcare.
University of Iowa students can return items to the UI Libraries from afar by dropping off items at one of 46 participating libraries across the state and region. See a map of these locations or the list of locations at the end of this article.
The UI Libraries has spearheaded this special service to help students living far from campus due to the pandemic. With the aid of partnering public and academic libraries, the UI Libraries will continue to offer this service while it’s needed.
This network of libraries is participating in an unprecedented cooperative project to assist library users who are sheltering far from the library from which they borrowed items. Each library in this network will accept items from the other participating libraries and return those items at no cost to the borrower.
Students who have University of Iowa library books to return can check the UI Libraries’ book return map for drop-off locations in the state and region. Students without access to a drop-off library and those living further than 30 miles from Iowa City can requesta UPS shipping label.
Students living near campus are encouraged to return books at the Main Library drop box (125 W. Washington Street, return slots available at both the south and north entrances) or the Hardin Library drop box (600 Newton Road, next to the entrance that faces University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics). Students with tools or electronic equipment should schedule a drop off to ensure the security and safety of the items.
Effective immediately and until normal access to physical collections resumes, students, faculty, and staff at the University of Iowa have online access to a large portion of the University Libraries’ print collection—volumes that would have been difficult to access from library facilities that are closed due to COVID-19.
Reading access todigitized copies of print volumes has been granted to the UI by HathiTrust, a not-for-profit, collaborative digital library that holds over 17 million volumes digitized from academic and research libraries. The UI Libraries,in collaboration with the Big Ten Academic Alliance, is a founding member of HathiTrust.
This means that any books available through HathiTrust that are also in the UI Libraries’ collections will be available online without the additional step of requesting a digital scan. HathiTrust’s online collection containsnearly half of the UI Libraries’ book collection for an additional 1.6 million volumes now available online for our campus community.
To take advantage of this resource:
Visit HathiTrust and click the yellow “LOG IN” button.
Select “University of Iowa” and log with your HawkID.
Use the site to locate the item you wish to view.
Click on theTemporary Accesslink at the bottom of the record to check out the item through the Emergency Temporary Access Service.
You will have 60 minutes of access to the book during any session. If you remain active in the book during any session, access time will be extended.
Please note that it is not possible to download books from HathiTrust. This is to protect authors’ rights.
By clinical education librarians at UI Libraries’ Hardin Library for the Health Sciences Jennifer DeBerg and Heather Healy
Since 2011, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences has provided a systematic review service to support research across the health sciences. Systematic reviews, a critical component of evidence-based clinical practice, follow a specific research methodology that attempts to identify, select, assess, and synthesize all the studies related to a specific question to guide decision making. Related review types include meta-analyses and meta-syntheses. All these review types need to follow a process that minimizes bias to ensure the results are valid.
ROLES FOR LIBRARIANS
Unfortunately, not all systematic reviews are conducted using a bias-minimizing methodology, which can have significant implications for decision making in healthcare. Several efforts have focused on improving the quality of systematic reviews that are developed and published.
Published in 2009, PRISMA—Preferred Reporting Items in Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis—is a framework of reporting standards that addresses problems observed in methodology quality. Parts of the standards relate to conducting rigorous and systematic searches of the literature to locate the relevant studies and to reporting specific details of the searching process. Two important elements of the framework are the PRISMA flow diagram and the PRISMA checklist.
In 2011, the Health and Medicine Division (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine in the report Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews states that a librarian or other information professional should be included in developing the systematic review search plan. Additionally, a 2014 article by Rethlefsen, Murad, and Livingston from the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that gaining assistance from librarians helps ensure thoroughness and reproducibility.
The primary role for health sciences librarians is to help develop and conduct highly sensitive bibliographic database search strategies that capture all the published evidence related to the research question. Hardin librarians have each attended formal systematic review training to learn the specialized literature searching process.
The training also covers the methodology for the whole review, as well as the reporting standards for reviews. Other roles librarians play can include
project manager, reference manager, reference screener, consultant for the team, and others.
The roles Hardin librarians play varies based on what the researchers need and may range from something simple, such as training the researchers how to manage records in EndNote, a citation management tool, or a thorough review of already-completed search strategies. More often, however, researchers request the most complete service, which may include all or a combination of the following: assistance with the development of the review protocol (the research plan); deciding which bibliographic databases to search; design of bibliographic database search strategies (including identifying and testing potential search terms); removing duplicates from the search results; finding missing abstracts; accessing full text of articles from the search results; and writing the search methods for reporting in the article or other end product. Sometimes, researchers request help with searching for grey or non-traditionally published literature, another part of review methodology that helps minimize bias.
Systematic reviews that demand the most extensive level of service require between 20 and 100 hours of librarian time. The total amount of time depends on many variables, such as the organization and communication of the research team, the nature of the topic, the number of databases to be searched, particularities of the databases, including subject heading availability and the quality of the indexed records. When this level of service is provided librarians request co-authorship on the resulting article because this level of contribution meets the standards for authorship recommended by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. When lesser but still substantial assistance has been provided, librarians may request a formal acknowledgment rather than co-authorship.
Not all requests for assistance result in a published systematic review. In consultation with librarians, some researchers discover their project idea is not a good fit for the systematic review methodology, and so their project takes another direction. Systematic reviews require significant time and work, frequently taking a year or more to complete. In some cases, projects may be started but not completed due to the researchers’ time constraints, inability to secure a project team, lack of methodological expertise, or other reasons. Some projects are completed but are reported at conferences with no intent to publish the results as an article.
GROWTH OF THIS SERVICE
Between 2011 and 2016, the small team of Hardin librarians initiating and developing the service created a two-part workshop to help train faculty, staff, and students about developing search strategies for systematic reviews. They also developed a hard copy intake form and created an online guide that allow researchers to request assistance and to provide resources to help with their process. In this timeframe, the service received about 25 requests for assistance.
In 2016, several new staff joined the team and helped make important improvements to the service, including a redesign of the online guide (see link at the bottom of page 23) development of an online intake form and other documents needed to support workflow, implementation of an improved file structure for organizing projects, revisions to workshop materials, and regular meetings to discuss service changes and ongoing learning opportunities in this specialty area. Since these changes were enacted in early 2017, the service has received 109 requests for support from researchers. The total for the full duration of the service is approximately 170 requests for assistance.
Recently published systematic reviews have been completed with support from Hardin librarians, including Chris Childs, Jen DeBerg, Janna Lawrence, and Heather Healy. Reviews cover a wide range of research topics and appear journals such as World Journal of Gastroenterology, The Journal of Arthroplasty, Clinical Infectious Diseases, and Journal of General Internal Medicine.
ASSESSING THE SERVICE
For the past few years, a team at Hardin has worked to assess the impact of the systematic review service on reviews authored by health sciences faculty at the UI. Hardin librarians have co-authored or been formally acknowledged in 50 published systematic reviews.
The team has also examined whether the systematic reviews authored by UI health sciences faculty (whether they included a librarian or not) met standards detailed by the PRISMA checklist. The team found that approximately 75% of reviews include the PRISMA flow diagram, an important signifier of the quality of the review process. The inclusion of this diagram, however, does not reflect the quality of the literature search. The team’s findings indicate that measures of the inclusion of a replicable search strategy, which provides transparency for the search process, are around 40% and inclusion of both subject heading and keywords in the search strategies, a signifier of search comprehensiveness, are around 30%.
Hardin librarians are continuing to discuss how to improve the reach of the systematic review service in sustainable ways that might include further development of general training workshops or redesign of the online guide to help increase awareness of systematic review standards among faculty. The librarian team is small and expanding the service to increase the amount of direct involvement of librarians in systematic reviews is not feasible currently. Furthermore, increased awareness and use of the standards relies not only efforts by librarians and researchers but also on the awareness of the standards by journal editors and journal peer reviewers.
The assessment team is analyzing which departments publish systematic reviews most often and which are most likely to benefit from assistance. Hardin librarians are hopeful that as they extend education to those who need it most, they can continue to positively influence the quality of the methodology for systematic reviews in the health sciences.
The following list provides a sampling of recently published systematic reviews that were completed with support from HLHS librarians, including Chris Childs, Jen DeBerg, Janna Lawrence, and Heather Healy:
Ashat, M., Arora, S., Klair, J. S., Childs, C. A., Murali, A. R., & Johlin, F. C. (2019). Bilateral vs unilateral placement of metal stents for inoperable high-grade hilar biliary strictures: A systemic review and meta-analysis. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 25(34), 5210–5219. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v25.i34.5210
Bedard, N. A., DeMik, D. E., Owens, J. M., Glass, N. A., DeBerg, J., & Callaghan, J. J. (2019). Tobacco use and risk of wound complications and periprosthetic joint infection: A systematic review and meta-analysis of primary total joint arthroplasty procedures. The Journal of Arthroplasty, 34(2), 385–396.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arth.2018.09.089
Puig-Asensio, M., Braun, B. I., Seaman, A. T., Chitavi, S., Rasinski, K. A., Nair, R., Perencevich, E. N., Lawrence, J. C., Hartley, M., & Schweizer, M. L. (2019). Perceived benefits and challenges of Ebola preparation among hospitals in developed countries: A systematic literature review. Clinical Infectious Diseases. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciz757
Seaman, A. T., Steffen, M., Doo, T., Healy, H. S., & Solimeo, S. L. (2018). Metasynthesis of patient attitudes toward bone densitometry. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 33(10), 1796–1804. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4587-3
John Culshaw, the Jack B. King University Librarian at the University of Iowa, has been elected to serve as incoming vice president/president-elect for the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). Culshaw will become ARL president on October 7, 2020.
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information.
“John’s leadership, both on campus and with national organizations, emphasizes collaborative efforts, empowering our librarians and scholars to work together to find and share research in ways that build pathways to new knowledge,” says Montserrat Fuentes, UI executive vice president and provost.
With his direction and support, UI Libraries staff garnered a grant to become the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Greater Midwest Regional Office; strengthened partnerships with the UI’s Center for the Book and the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature; merged the Studio, a collaborative incubator for digital scholarship and publishing, into Libraries operations; and brought important new research collections to Iowa including the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry. In 2018, Culshaw was invested as the first Jack B. King University Librarian Chair.
Culshaw received a BA in history from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and holds an MS in information studies from Drexel University. He received UW-Parkside’s Traditions of Excellence Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015. Prior to Iowa, he held positions at the University of Colorado Boulder.
By Elizabeth Cox, head of cataloging-metadata at the UI Libraries
When you think of diversity issues at a university, you probably think of faculty and student representation, or maybe course topics. Rarely do people, perhaps even librarians, think of the online catalog or those who put information in it: the catalogers.
Catalogers are highly trained, detail-oriented librarians and staff who succinctly describe the library’s materials for students, faculty, and staff to find and use. We have particular databases and many sets of rules and guidelines to follow, from local to international. We provide subject headings or descriptors to every item in the online catalog (at the UI Libraries, our online catalog is called InfoHawk+).
For decades, librarians at the national and international levels have determined “authorized” headings. By using these headings, a library user can go into almost any library and find material on a particular subject, because most libraries use the same headings. In the United States, most academic and research libraries use the Library of Congress subject headings list.
Because the burden of standardizing these headings lies with a single organization (the Library of Congress), it can take time for the headings to catch up with the culture. Over the years, catalogers have raised questions about this process, noting the importance of balancing the use of historical terminology against the need to adopt new terminology. In some instances, new terminology can reflect changing societal views and prevent the proliferation of outdated ideas.
In 2016, subject headings hit the national news. A group of Dartmouth College students, Dartmouth librarians, and the Coalition for Immigration Reform, Equality and DREAMers (CoFIRED) petitioned the Library of Congress to remove “Illegal aliens” as a subject heading. At first, the Library of Congress denied the request, citing use of the term in “authoritative sources for legal terminology.”
However, members of the American Library Association collaborated with the Library of Congress, forming a working group to review the issue. The group reached a compromise, agreeing to replace the term “aliens” with “noncitizens” and to replace “illegal aliens” with “undocumented immigrants.” Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee introduced a bill (H.R. 4926 – Stopping Partisan Policy at the Library of Congress Act) calling for retention of the headings “aliens” and “illegal aliens.” In April 2016, the bill was referred to the Committee on House Administration, but it went no further. The Library of Congress continues to use the terms “aliens” and “illegal aliens” as subject headings.
This is just one example of the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in subject headings. Sadly, there are many others, and the majority of them don’t get the same attention as this. The chart to the right shows an inconsistent application of subject headings regarding gender. All of the words and phrases in this chart are authorized headings. Using the currently approved subject headings, a book can be labeled as one about nurses generally, about female nurses, or about male nurses. A book can be labeled as one about librarians generally or about women librarians, but a book cannot be labeled as one about male librarians.
Catalogers have also noted concerns with headings related to people with disabilities, as well as biases related to culture, class, or country of origin. This hits very close to home in Iowa when searching for the nearby community of the Meskwaki Nation, the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi. A search of the Library of Congress database for “Meskwaki” refers you to the heading, “Fox Indians,” listing “Meskwaki Indians” as a variant or unused term. Not only does it fail to refer to the Sac Tribe, but it uses the old terminology “Indians” rather than “Native Americans.”
Catalogers wonder what to do in situations such as these. The Library of Congress makes available a procedure to recommend addition or revision of a Library of Congress subject heading and provides a number of tips and instructions to assist in the process. Although the process is not onerous, it can be tedious and requires research on the part of the librarian, who must provide proof that the word or phrase is used in one or more resource. Each month, the Library of Congress publishes a list of proposed headings and invites comments. After considering the proposals and comments, the Library of Congress publishes its decisions along with its rationale in cases of rejection.
The Library of Congress does not give a time estimate for this process. As of April 2019, the Library of Congress had published a list of approximately 200 proposed headings. Of those, only seven have been approved and three proposals have been deemed incomplete.
Simply being aware of these issues is a good start, but librarians can be more vigilant about noticing the discrepancies in online catalogs and be more proactive in making positive changes to reflect the diverse world around us and provide more equitable, inclusive, and diverse databases for our library users.
Adler, Melissa, Jeffrey T. Huber, and A. Tyler Nix. 2017. “Stigmatizing disability: Library classifications and the marking and marginalization of books about people with disabilities.” Library Quarterly, April: 117-135.
Aguilera, Jasmine. 2016. “Another word for ‘Illegal alien’ at the Library of Congress: Contentious.” New York Times, July 22. Accessed February 7, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/23/us/another-word-for-illegal-alien-at-the-library-of-congress-contentious.html?_r=0.
Berman, Sanford. 2017. “Berman’s Bag: Omissions and Distortions in Libraries, Too: LCSH Proposals.” Unabashed Librarian (185): 19-22.
—. 1971. Prejudices and antipathies: a tract on the LC subject heads concerning people. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press.
Diao, Junli, and Haiyun Cao. 2016. “Chronology in cataloging Chinese archaeological reports: An investigation of cultural bias in the Library of Congress classification.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 244-262.
Library of Congress. n.d. Library of Congress Subject Headings. Accessed March 5, 2019. http://id.loc.gov/authorities/subjects.html.
—. n.d. Process for Adding and Revising Library of Congress Subject Headings. Accessed March 6, 2019. http://www.loc.gov/aba/cataloging/subject/lcsh-process.html.
Peet, Lisa. 2016. “Library of Congress Drops Illegal Alien Subject Heading, Provokes Backlash Legislation.” Library Journal. Accessed March 6, 2019. https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=library-of-congress-drops-illegal-alien-subject-heading-provokes-backlash-legislation.
Ros, Amanda. n.d. “The bias in your library’s catalog.” Texas A&M University. Accessed February 7, 2019. http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/166418/Bias%20Poster%20NCORE.pdf?sequence=4&isAllowed=y.
Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa. 2017. Meskwaki Nation. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://meskwaki.org/.
The University of Iowa Libraries Special Collectionsis the new home of the renowned Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry. Founded by Ruth and Marvin Sackner in 1979 in Miami Beach, Florida, the Sackner Archive currently holds the largest collection of concrete and visual poetry in the world.
The archive includes over 75,000 items that document the concrete poetry movement. Annotated books, periodicals, typewritings, drawings, letters, print portfolios, ephemera, and rare and out-of-print artists’ books and manuscripts represent 20th-century art movements such as Italian Futurism, Russian and Eastern European Avant Garde, Dada, Surrealism, Bauhaus, De Stijl, Ultra, Tabu-Dada, Lettrisme, and Ultra-Lettrisme.
Among many notable items, the collection includes materials by and about the founders of the contemporary concrete poetry movement, such as Haroldo de Campos, Augusto de Campos, Eugen Gomringer, Öyvind Fahlström, Décio Pignatari, and Ian Hamilton Finlay. Also among the richly varied cross section of artists and poets represented in the archive are Dom Sylvester Houédard, Henri Chopin, John Cage, Johanna Drucker, Yoko Ono, and Nam June Paik.
“It’s a great honor for the UI Libraries to become the new home for the Sackner Archive, which will enrich scholarship, inspire generations of students, and draw visitors from around the world,” says John Culshaw, the Jack B. King university librarian at the UI.
Margaret Gamm, head of UI Libraries Special Collections, says the Sackners’ extensive work with item descriptions makes the archive of even greater value to scholars.
“We will soon be able to make a truly remarkable assortment of materials available, thanks to the dedication of Ruth and Marvin Sackner, their love of collecting, and their determination to create a complete archive by creating descriptive item records for each piece,” Gamm says. “I cannot wait to see how our students, faculty, and community use these materials in their research and classes.”
The entire archive has been moved to the UI Libraries, where it will be housed and maintained. The Sackner family has arranged for a scheduled donation of materials to be transferred to the UI Libraries’ ownership. The archive will be open by appointment to students, scholars, and the general public starting January 2020.
The Sackner family chose the University of Iowa Libraries as the new home for the archive due to the Libraries’ reputation as a center for the study of Dadaism, with its substantial holdings in the International Dada Archive. In addition, the Libraries’ world-class conservation program, the UI’s nationally recognized Center for the Book and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, collections in the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, and location in Iowa City (a UNESCO City of Literature) were also factors influencing their decision. The Sackners’ first encounter with Iowa was to loan work for the 1983 UI exhibition Lettrisme: Into the Present, not knowing that those items would eventually find their way back to the Midwest.
“My beloved wife, Ruth, and I had a dream that one day our efforts to build our collection into one that would reside in a world-class educational institution like the University of Iowa would come true,” Dr. Marvin Sackner says. “Our dream has finally become a reality. I am just sorry that Ruth is no longer with us to witness this monumental moment.”
In addition to housing the archive in Special Collections, the UI Libraries will maintain the condition of archive items, including fragile materials and rare or one-of-a-kind items. The Libraries Preservation and Conservation department has begun repairs on items damaged during Hurricane Irma in 2017.
In its new home, the Sackner Archive will continue to function as a living record of the concrete poetry movement, as new works are accepted into the collections. The UI Libraries will house new items as they come in and work to make the material available to all.
“It’s a pleasure to collaborate with the University of Iowa Libraries staff to ensure the safety of the collection during the move and into the future,” says Amanda Keeley, who has served as associate curator of the Sackner Archive for three years. “Margaret [Gamm] has been a particularly helpful partner, allowing a smooth process for moving this substantial archive to Iowa City.”
The University of Iowa Libraries plans to host a celebration of the Sackner Archive in the near future. At a later date, UI Libraries staff will mount an exhibition of select archive items in the Main Library Gallery. The exhibition dates will be announced at lib.uiowa.edu/gallery.
The Sackner Archive of Visual and Concrete Poetry includes items created in a wide variety of styles and media. Initially, the Sackners collected examples of artists who started the concrete poetry movement, but the archive has since expanded in scope and now includes a broad array of works that integrate text and image. Examples include experimental typography, experimental calligraphy, correspondence art, stamp art, sound poetry, performance poetry, micrography, ‘zines,’ graphic design, and artist magazines.
The images below show a variety of materials and techniques such as calligraphy on an ostrich egg, a “handmade” leather book cover, pressed leaves, lithograph, embossed paper, tea bags encased in paper, one-of-a-kind artist’s book in a round box, carved/painted wood, and an altered book page on which poetry was created through a technique called “erasure.”
Written by Mahrya Burnett, Scholarly Communications Librarian
In the libraries, we spend the whole month of October celebrating Open Access (OA), and with good reason. As scholarly publishing continues to evolve and spawn new models for disseminating knowledge, it’s more important than ever to make sure that anyone can access critical research and that scholars from anywhere in the world can publish their discoveries. It’s also important for scholars at the University of Iowa to understand how to manage the impact of their research, disseminate it as widely as possible, and to choose publication venues that will help reach their goals.
Guiding researchers as they navigate these issues is a big part of my job as a scholarly communications librarian. I meet with all kinds of students and faculty to talk about the ins and outs of publishing their research. If you’re interested in getting your publications out from behind paywalls and into the hands of readers, here’s how I can help:
Find open access journals in your discipline
One way to make your research open is to publish in an open access journal. But what does that mean? Open access journals are publications that make it free for readers to access ALL of their content through the publisher’s website. Quality OA journals will be transparent in their business and editorial practices and should be well-regarded in your field. They should also be up-front about any Article Processing Charges (APCs) used to offset the cost of publishing. The Directory of Open Access Journals can help you determine whether a journal is, in fact, open and can help you find open journals in your discipline. I can help you navigate this directory or provide you with additional information about journals.
Get your work into Iowa Research Online
Iowa Research Online (IRO) is Iowa’s institutional repository for publications and other research artifacts. This means that UI faculty, staff, and students can upload their published work and make it discoverable to anyone with an internet connection, anywhere in the world. Including your article in IRO is another great way to make your research open, and I would be glad to help walk you through the process. Not every publisher will allow you to include the final version of your article in a repository. But luckily, there are tools that we can use to determine exactly what your publisher will allow. Sherpa/RoMEO is one such tool. This directory lists current publisher policies on self-archiving and will tell you what you can and cannot include in IRO.
Find funding for Article Processing Charges (APCs)
APCs are one of the most misunderstood aspects of scholarly publishing. In some disciplines, it has long been standard practice to charge authors “page fees” for charts, graphics, color printing, or other publication costs. In other disciplines, giving money to a publisher is considered “pay to publish,” and is not seen as a legitimate practice. In the world of open access publishing, we have seen APCs crop up, proliferate, and grow to sometimes thousands of dollars per publication. Not all OA journals charge APCs, in fact the vast majority do not. However, the ones who do are often big name journal titles, with high impact factors, produced by major academic publishers. These are often the same journals in which scholars need to publish, for promotion and tenure, or simply to be widely read. In many ways, these publishers still control the landscape, even the OA landscape, and it looks like their APCs aren’t going away anytime soon. If you find yourself needing to pay an APC or are considering an OA publication, but don’t know how to fund it, I can help. Often, you can designate grant funding to be earmarked for APCS or your department may have funds available for this purpose.
Get up-to-date on funder mandates for open
Funding organizations are slowly recognizing that the research they fund as a public good should, in fact, be available to the public. While other parts of the world are further along that the United States in this regard (See Plan S, for example), certain federal agencies require that funded research be made publicly available. When this is the case, researchers must comply with the mandate. Some agencies, such as the National Institute of Health, make complying with this policy relatively easy. Others are a bit more tricky. This is another area where I can be of assistance.
If you’d like to discuss how to make your research open, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment. I’m also a part of the library’s new Scholarly Impact Department, which rolls our scholarly communications and data services into one unit. If you’d like to learn more about the new department, please contact us at email@example.com. Let’s work together to make Iowa’s scholarship as open as it can be!