Some interesting resources about interventions in libraries and archives


Student intervention in the library. Photo © Sarah Ainslie, 2011

Student intervention in the library. Photo © Sarah Ainslie, 2011

The Artist in the Library blog documents a project that reflected on the relationships between artists and libraries; how their spaces, systems and structures provide inspirational possibilities for artists, and how artists’ involvement, working processes and interventions can be fruitful and inspiring for libraries.

A key component of the project was the collaboration between the Institute for Performing Arts Development and Library and Learning Services at the University of East LondonIn spring 2011 a group of 1st year undergraduate students worked for a period of 12 weeks developing individual projects that came from, and were to be sited in, UEL’s Docklands library. These were realised as part of ‘Mayfest’ 2011, UEL’s annual festival of Performing Arts.

In June 2011 a half-day symposium brought together more than 80 artists, librarians and researchers from around the UK with presentations and discussions exploring a range of projects that intervene in, respond to, or collaborate with all kinds of libraries.

cropped-100_1154Meanwhile, Archive Interventions is a project run by a PhD candidate in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester.

Until quite recently, slides were the mainstay of teaching in art history. The department’s collection contains many unique images built up by members of staff over many years. This resource was also extensively used by staff teaching visual culture in other subject areas. In the space of less than ten years, slide technology has become rapidly and completely obsolete. As of next year, no centrally timetabled teaching rooms will be equipped with slide projectors. Currently, the slides are almost completely unused, depriving students of an invaluable resource, so they are presently sorting through the collection to identify slides for possible digitisation and preservation. They are also developing a programme of events with a focus upon how arts and visual culture resources can be used for teaching and research; the role of old and new technologies; issues around archiving.

The blog showcases some of the material held in their collection, and also offers some interesting thoughts on visual culture archives and shares finds from other blogs about how artists are using, interacting with and intervening in archives and libraries.

What do you think of the Archives and Collections Centre?


We want to know what you think of the Archives and Collections Centre – our holdings, our resources, our facilities and our services. Fill in our teeny weeny easy peasy survey and let us know what you think! 

We’d also like to know your views on our blog. What do you want to see more of? More case studies about artists using archives? More features on items from our own archives and collections? More alumni stories and information about family history? More from behind the scenes and how we care for our collections? More about upcoming events and exhibitions? More pointers towards inspirational resources? 

If you don’t tell us, we won’t know how to improve, so please let us know your thoughts in the comments bit below. 


GSA Library Special Collections blog relaunch

GSATREASURESGSA Library’s Special Collections blog has just relaunched in a beautiful new WordPress format. Special Collections is home to, amongst other fabulous collections, The Stoddard Design Library (the in-house reference library of one of the world’s most successful carpet manufacturers) and a collection of Glasgow Style bookbindings including those by Talwin Morris, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and “Glasgow Girl” Jessie M King. Take a look at the new site for more information about their wonderful collections, which also includes artist’s books, engravings, prize books and trade journals.

Bookbinding by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Bookbinding from the Glasgow Style collection

Design from the Stoddard Design Library

Design from the Stoddard Design Library

The blog is brimming with inspirational images. Examples of how artists and other creative practitioners have been using the library and Special Collections in their work are available on The Hatchery. Visit the blog and be inspired!

Textile Conservation: The University of Brighton’s blog

We’ve recently come across The University of Brighton’s excellent Conserving the Archives blog. Because we have our very own collection of Stoddard-Templeton carpets and textiles, we were especially interested in their most recent post, which is actually a guest entry by Emily Austin. Emily is a Textile Conservation student at the University of Glasgow, who has recently completed a placement with Zenzie Tinker Conservation during June and got to work on some of the University of Brighton’s carpet samples…

Before I head off on a spot of annual leave, I have a bit of a treat for everyone – my very first ‘guest entry’ on this blog. In an earlier entry I wrote about the carpet samples in our collection that were going to be conserved at Zenzie Tinker Conservation. Emily Austin, a Textile Conservation student at the University of Glasgow, was completing a placement with Zenzie during June and got to work on our carpet samples. She very kindly agreed to write a blog entry about the processes and allow me to use her images for illustration. So here it is – parting ways with paper for a change!

Original label, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: An original label hidden, until now, behind an award winning carpet designed by Artkurl Wilton, 1958.

“Recently while on a summer work placement at Zenzie Tinker’s Conservation studio, I was fortunate enough to be able to carry out the conservation treatment for two 1950’s carpet samples from the University of Brighton Design Archives.

Before treatment, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: Prior to treatment, showing moth frass and dust and the original wooden frame.

When the carpet samples arrived it was clear that at some point they had been host to a large number of moths, no doubt attracted by the rich wool pile. The true extent of the infestation was realised once the metal tacks had been removed from the wooden boards on which the samples were mounted, revealing numerous moth casings. However, this also revealed the original manufacturing label on the yellow and black sample, shown in the image below. The samples were then prepared for freezing by sealing them in plastic sheeting; they were frozen for 72 hours at -30c to stop any live moth activity.

Removal of old cotton tape, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: Removal of old cotton tape from the carpet sample.

Once the samples were removed from the freezer, they needed to be thoroughly surface cleaned to remove any remaining moth casings and frass (debris), which involved carefully working through the carpet pile with a low suction vacuum and tweezers. There were large amounts of casings especially on the black and blue sample, as well as areas where the pile had been completely eaten away. Interestingly, the moths seemed to focus mainly on the yellow areas of pile in this sample, perhaps because of a particular dye or treatment used on this wool.

New cotton tape, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: Stitching new cotton tape.

During this process, it became apparent that the cotton tape stitched around the raw carpet edges was preventing the full removal of the moth frass, as well as containing failing adhesive which had become yellow and powdered. Therefore, it was decided to replace the old tape and change the large mismatched stitching with a more suitable colour thread spaced closer together.

New stitching, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: New stitching.

Following discussions with Design Archives’ staff, the carpets were then prepared for mounting onto fabric covered boards. This involved the stitched attachment of Velcro strips to the top and bottom of each sample giving an even distribution of weight once they are mounted. Currently, the light weight polycarbonate and sealed plywood-faced boards are being covered and once completed they will also have Velcro attached to support the carpet pieces.

Stitching velcro, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: New velcro stitching.

Overall, the treatment has greatly improved the appearance and stability of the carpet samples, which were in poor condition when they arrived at the studio. This has not only been important for the future study of the samples at the University of Brighton Design Archives but it has also been a great experience for me as I continue my Textile Conservation training at The University of Glasgow.”

Stitching velcro, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: Emily stitching velcro onto the carpet sample designed by Artkurl Wilton.

New posts on Glasgow Miracle project blog

Not one, not two, but three new posts by project volunteers on the Glasgow Miracle project blog for you.


Visit the blog to read the articles:

Social Culture and Special Unit Sculpture

The 1990 TSWA Four Cities Project in Glasgow and the proposals that never materialised 

The National Archives of Scotland

Multimedia Information and Technology Journal article

The Archives and Collections Centre and our blog have been featured in the forthcoming edition of the Multimedia Information and Technology Journal!

GSA's Archives and Collections Centre

GSA’s Archives and Collections Centre

The main publication of the Multimedia Information and Technology Group is its quarterly journal Multimedia Information & Technology, which provides comprehensive coverage of major developments in multimedia applications for information services and related sectors. Each issue covers news items, technology developments, product reviews and book and media reviews.

The current issue of the Multimedia Information and Technology Journal

The current issue of the Multimedia Information and Technology Journal

The Multimedia Information and Technology Group is a Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) group.The Multimedia Information and Technology Group aims to unite CILIP members engaged in, or interested in, multimedia information and technology developments in library and information science.

You can keep up to date with news and events on the group’s website. And you can read this month’s edition, including the article about the Archives and Collections Centre and our blog, here: MmITFeb13web-news