Friday, August 30, 2013

Online resource: Made with the British Library

Since launching The Hatchery, our online showcase of how artists, writers and creatives have used GSA Library to assist their practice, we're taking a renewed interest in how libraries promote use of their collections. The British Library's 'Made with the British Library' website is one resource doing just that. The website introduces individuals who have engaged with various areas in the library's holdings to conduct new research, create new art and branch into business.

Each person discusses their use of the Library via a YouTube video. Included in the neat portfolio of case studies is a student's account of using the collections to write her PhD in Spanish cinema. Other researchers discuss how the Library's maps helped to recreate a lost city in Crete and how the newspaper collection could be used to inspire the development of public weather services!

The Hatchery is continually expanding as new projects and discoveries are made. While the focus is primarily on what's happening in GSA Library, we're making conscious efforts to find out about similar ongoing projects in other libraries. Keep an eye out for these projects appearing on The Hatchery in the near future.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Online resource: 'All change!' - National Archives Chart 200 Years of Railway History

The Age of Steam is relived in a new resource called 'All change!' which charts the history of how railways have changed peoples' lives over the last two centuries. 

This is a collaboration between The National Archives and the National Railway Museum who have amalgamated their railway collections to form an accessible route into learning about Britain's railway heritage. Some beautiful materials including drawings, photographs and documents have been selected from the archives to form a visual history of the past 200 years of the railway. There are links through to video lectures on the development of the railways and details of a one-day conference at Kew on 7th September, looking at the significance the railways have had on people's lives.

The Library catalogue holds an array of books on the subject of railways from materials looking at the architecture of railway stations, through to the graphic design of vintage rail posters and local social history of Glasgow's rich industrial heritage. Looking at the focus that this year's Glasgow Doors Open Days is putting on engineering and the railway in particular, this could be a helpful way of making tracks into a related research project.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Radio: BBC Radio 4 'Design Thinking'

Gone are the days of the product designer stuck in the testing lab; today, the most innovative designers are impacting on society through a broad, collaborative process of 'design thinking.' Tonight, at 8.30pm, broadcaster Peter Day looks at how this new philosophy is impacting on the modern world in a BBC Radio 4 programme of the same name.

There's a nod to Gov.UK, the UK government website aggregator which won the digital award at the Designs of the Year Awards in April this year, and a look at agencies which are creating new companies from scratch - many of them through the collaborative power of online crowdsourcing. The argument is that design has become an almost entirely democratic process, evolving at lightning-quick speed to incorporate the ideas of many, in a process focused on the end user's experience.

The Library stock a broad range of books on the subject of design thinking. Browse them here for inspiration when the collection reappears.

This is product design, but not as you may have known it only a few years ago...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Online resources: The Getty Open Content Program

Any new digital development from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, has instantly got our attention! The newest project to catch our eye is the museum's 'Open Content Program' which makes 4,600 images, free for use, by anyone whom they inspire!

This excellent, high-quality resource aggregates artworks held in the Getty's eminent collections on one searchable web-space. Visitors to the site can select, use, modify and publish images for any purpose they see fit. The Getty want to know how the images will be used before they are released to use, share, manipulate or appropriate - no holds barred! Manuscripts, paintings, photographs and sculptural works in the public domain are some of the many types of art at the public's disposal.

The Open Content Program is part of the Getty's broader commitment to share as many of their art resources as they can, digitally. This includes plans to add further images from the museum's collection over time, and to add the special collections of the Getty Research Institute to the online site as the holdings receive copyright-clearance.

For a museum of the Getty's stature, its pledge to open digital access is representative of the move by galleries and museums to embrace new technological innovation and digital culture. Judge for yourself the significance of the resource by browsing its full contents here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Online Resource: Mapping Memorials to Women in Scotland

Our friends at Glasgow Women's Library have been working with Women's History Scotland to develop an online record of memorials in Scotland commemorating the lives and achievements of women. Some of these women, the likes of Flora MacDonald and J.K. Rowling are well-known, however the the majority are only now being remembered thanks to the records of online contributors who are helping to add new memorial sites to the map.

The lovely aspect of the resource is that it forms a personal archive of the recollected stories and knowledge of those with an interest in preserving the history of local women. Visitors to the site are encouraged to sign up to log new memorials and share photographs through the beautiful Flickr gallery where we sourced this image of La Pasionaria, the familiar monument walkers and cyclists pass the River Clyde Walkway - a tribute to those people who died resisting Fascism in Spain during the 1930s.

If you can think of your own contribution, why not add it to the site where others can discover it using The Memorials Map or search function! The stories behind 300 memorials have been logged with the resource gathering momentum through training sessions ran by GWL earlier in the year. Look out for the potential announcement of more training opportunities on the site or search for similar-themed events on the GWL's calendar

Using the map, we chanced upon this delightful mosaic plaque above the door of Greengate, Jessie M. King's house in the artist's town of Kirkcudbright. The children's illustrator moved to the town in 1915, twenty-three years after she first entered Glasgow School of Art as a student in 1892, and continued to work there until her death. Here she produced books of drawings, among them Kirkcudbright: A Royal Burgh, a delicately-coloured book published by Gowans & Gray in 1934 and held in our Glasgow Style Book Design Collection in the Library Special Collections. 

Finding the online tribute to King on the mapping memorial site is a happy coincidence and one, we think, which helps to illustrate the potential of this wonderful online resource! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

New online resource: Movie Title Stills Collections

The Movie Title Stills Collection, is a reservoir of Hollywood film titles: main titles, end titles and typography from cinema trailers captured as screenshots and ordered by decade. It's rather addictive looking through the collection from 1920 to the present day including an 'updates' section for new additions. 

One of the site's main attractions is the number of examples of cinematic typography there are to digest. Reading this short article on Warner Bros. trailer typography reveals that Hollywood studios traditionally employed their own in-house designers. This explains apparent similarities in the style and size of the type up until the 1950s. Interesting comparisons can be made between for example, the typography of titles from the 1940s and those from the present day. While the 1940s titles seem to follow a largely unvaried template, the type design in recent titles seems more concerned about constructing a unique identity for the actual film.

What makes this all the more interesting, is the fact that the film title convention is largely unchanged over almost a hundred years. On any given visit to the cinema, we experience the wait through the trailers, the anticipation of the opening titles and the culmination at 'The End.' These are established rituals enjoyed as part of the cinema-going experience. After visiting the online collection however, it could be said that typography in Hollywood film is still in its infancy with different permutations in letter design only now beginning to be tested, with the aid of new technologies.

The site's creator Christian Annyas tweets whenever a new still is added. If this brings out your inner film buff or extreme compulsive tendencies, follow him @MovieTitles.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Free Online Art Books and Catalogues!

The financial cost of many high-quality art books and exhibition catalogues can sometimes be off-putting. While it's possible to suggest a purchase for Library books relating to your learning at GSA, the growing trend to open access in the academic world is opening up a number of opportunities to view scholarly research and even entire books online! Following this theme, we're delighted to learn about free electronic resources being made available from two of New York's famous institutions: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The Metropolitan Museum launched MetPublications last year, a project which aims to offer digital access to almost all books and journals published by the Metropolitan since 1870. The collection is sprouting up with an impressive 700 free art books and catalogues available to the art community at the last count! There's a broad international perspective with just about every area of the visual and decorative arts covered. The period from 1964 to the present day profiles highly although watch out for some of the in-print titles which may only be previewed with a link to purchase the book. Thankfully, the contents of all other titles can be read online or downloaded as PDF files which still manages to cover a broad spectrum of the arts.

Meanwhile, its neighbour, the Guggenheim Museum has made 99 art catalogues available for free, offering visual introductions to the exhibitions of many significant artists. To search, select a text from the collection and click the "Read Catalogue Online" button which will allow you to begin reading the catalogue in a pop-up browser.

These latest searchable art databases are indicative of the digital future of library and museum collections. Glasgow Museums virtual tour of Kelvingrove, and the Rijksmuseum 'Rijks Studio' in Amsterdam are two examples of actual collections being put online; both of which we've blogged about about in the past.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Online resource: Corsi Collection of Decorative Stones

The saying goes that all that glitters is not gold, and the online Corsi Collection of decorative stones certainly serves to prove the point in its most literal sense. Incredibly, the resource represents the early 19th century collection of natural stone collected by Italian lawyer Faustino Corsi. Corsi acquired examples of stone used by the ancient Romans and added a selection of decorative rocks and minerals from Italy and abroad to form what is most likely, the grandest gem collection ever curated - there are at least 1,000 slabs of polished decorative stones available to browse via the resource!

An Oxford student purchased the collection and presented it to his university who today, keep it preserved in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Now, a funded research project has made the collection available to a mass audience which should be particularly exciting for anyone interested in the colours and properties of decorative stones from marbles to serpentinites, basalts, granites and other precious types.

While Corsi's catalogue is likely to appeal to geologists, the tab to 'Explore Corsi's stones' is the best departure point for visual examples. In particular, the extensive gallery and thumbnails enable you to scroll through the entire collection and select stones that could be used to advance the decoration of a particular object or design. Better still, if you know the name of a particular stone and wish to research it in more detail, the 'Find a stone' option enables you to do so. We think jewellery designers will find this a goldmine of inspiration while fine artists may be surprised at how the unusual colours and patterns of the stones reflect back techniques and compositions easily associated with abstract artworks. Some examples are above. 

Thursday, August 08, 2013

New online resource: Archive of Indian Music

A scavenge of India's bazaars and junk markets, and generous donations have brought about the Archive of Indian Music, a digital compilation of 12,000 rare gramophone records with free online access.

The sound clips include vintage musical recordings, plays, poetry and speeches including one delivered by M K Gandhi for a recording company in 1931. Available on the AIM website, the sound clips are divided into artist categories: Carnatic, Film, Folk, Ghazal, Theatre, etc. Devotees to India culture and music can browse the categories, stream the recordings for free and create a personalised playlist on the website. It's even possible to donate relevant contributions.

 The archive is founded and curated by Vikram Sampath,a Carnatic vocalist from Bangalore who functions out of a small space in Manipal University. By collecting and digitising shellac records from between 1900 and 1950, Sampath has provided a soundbite of collective Indian culture which brings India's rich cultural heritage to a mass audience. The resource is extraordinarily valuable due to the limitations of the shellac record and the scarcity of recordings by notable musicians of the time. In the earlier part of the twentieth century, a basic shellac could only hold up to three minutes of sound. To complicate matters, some musicians and singers refused to record as they felt it would compromise the aesthetics of their music, and were superstitious that they would lose their voice if it was committed to a physical object. Absorbing glimpses like these, into the artistic nous and belief systems of a fascinating and complex culture help us to grasp the project's ambition and its merits as an educational resource. Music to our ears!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

BT Digital Archive Celebrates UK's Telecoms Heritage

In a world where it's increasingly the norm to communicate using social media, it seems a fitting-time for BT to celebrate 165 years of telecommunications through the creation of a £1m virtual library. The BT Digital Archives has digitised 500,000 items including some truly weird images which collectively, reflect the heritage of electronic communication in Britain and more amusingly, the country's changing social history from the advent of technology.

The project's funding came from JISC, the digital services body for UK education and research. JISC called upon Coventry University to merge the materials at BT and The National Archives into one searchable database which captures the late nineteenth-century zeitgeist of pioneering technological innovation and its increasing usage during the twentieth century. The archive traces history from pioneering attempts to establish an electronic communications network in Britain to the first ever telephone call made in 1879 to the role of telecommunications during both world wars.

The resource could prove tricky to navigate for those wishing to browse, however it is possible to limit the search criteria to a page from a record, book or photograph. The 'mosaics' tab yields the collection of photographic images such as the examples here. Creative Commons copyright governs the use of the archive's materials meaning that they can be reproduced provided the source is credited.

Among the key highlights of the archive are a letter from Alexander Graham Bell offering his invention, the telephone, to the British government (who turned it down) and correspondence from the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi discussing his "new system of telegraphy without wires." There are pictures documenting the first ever 999 call and documents showing how the notorious killer Dr Crippen was caught in 1910 with the use of a transatlantic telegram. The BBC's newspage has compiled a list of its favourite items here.

So whether it's to research the past 165 years in British history, look at changing cultural behaviours, or glean inspiration for a new design, there's plenty here to keep you hanging on the telephone.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

'Stripped': Graphic Novels at Edinburgh Book Festival

It's August which means it's Edinburgh Book Festival time once again!

This year, we're excited to learn that mini festival 'Stripped' is making the graphic novel and comic genres a key part of the literary proceedings between the 10th and 26th of August. This brand-spanking new addition to the festival format is indicative of the interest evident in GSA Library's Graphic Novels collection which can still be browsed on Level 1 while the refurbishment takes place. Some of the names featured in the collection such as Joe Stacco and Chris Ware are putting in an appearance as are local folks like Denise Mina and Scottish publishers. A guide to the Library's collection is available here.

'Stripped' has scheduled a number of events exploring the heritage of comics and the unprecedented rise of the graphic novel form in recent years from cult interest to mainstream literary form. A mini comics fair will invite Scotland's independent comic producers to showcase their work while an exhibition 'Stripped in the Gardens' will showcase a selection of artwork from comics and graphic novels creators. The brochure is absolutely worth downloading for talks, workshops and an insight into the extraordinary approaches being used by artists to create graphic books. 

The popularity of the Edinburgh Book Festival (celebrating its 30th anniversary this year) means that some events have already sold out, however tickets are still available to book for most with discounts available to students and those under the age of 26. A yurt on Charlotte Square, (just off Princes Street) is the scene of the action; each year providing a venue for a diverse and international selection of big-name, and budding writers to share their work. 

For more information about 'Stripped' read the festival's brilliantly-colourful blog here, or follow on Twitter @stripped fest. Unbeknown to us until now, the Edinburgh Book Festival has a YouTube channel where you can watch previous years' events and author readings. After 26th August, some of 'Stripped's' events will be streamed via YouTube making them available to watch for the first time, or to enjoy all over again.