Friday, January 31, 2014

Adventures in Wikipedia: The article grading cheme

I've alluded to this in my last couple of Wikipedia posts, but for students looking at articles in Wikipedia, it's helpful to know that all the articles on Wikipedia are subject to a grading scheme that you can look up on the article's Talk page.

The way the classification works is as follows:

Featured Article: The article has attained featured article status by passing an official review. It is Professional, outstanding, and thorough; a definitive source for encyclopedic information. No further content additions should be necessary unless new information becomes available; further improvements to the prose quality are often possible.

A-Class Article: The article is well organized and essentially complete, having been reviewed by impartial reviewers from this WikiProject or elsewhere. Good article status is not a requirement for A-Class. It is very useful to readers. A fairly complete treatment of the subject. A non-expert in the subject would typically find nothing wanting. Expert knowledge may be needed to tweak the article, and style problems may need solving. Peer review may help.

Good Article: The article has attained good article status by passing an official review. It is useful to nearly all readers, with no obvious problems; approaching (but not equalling) the quality of a professional encyclopedia. Some editing by subject and style experts is helpful; comparison with an existing featured article on a similar topic may highlight areas where content is weak or missing.

Bplus-Class Article: Detailed, clear and accessible, often with history or images; possible good article nominee. It is useful to nearly all readers. A good treatment of the subject, which attempts to be as accessible as possible, with a minimum of jargon. No obvious problems, gaps, excessive information.

-  B-Class Article: The article is mostly complete and without major problems, but requires some further work to reach good article standards. Readers are not left wanting, although the content may not be complete enough to satisfy a serious student or researcher. A few aspects of content and style need to be addressed. Expert knowledge may be needed. The inclusion of supporting materials should also be considered if practical, and the article checked for general compliance with the Manual of Style and related style guidelines.

-  C-Class Article: The article is substantial, but is still missing important content or contains much irrelevant material. The article should have some references to reliable sources, but may still have significant problems or require substantial cleanup. Useful to a casual reader, but would not provide a complete picture for even a moderately detailed study. Considerable editing is needed to close gaps in content and solve clean-up problems.

- Start Article: An article that is developing, but which is quite incomplete and, most notably, lacks adequate reliable sources. It provides some meaningful content, but most readers will need more. Providing references to reliable sources should come first; the article also needs substantial improvement in content and organisation.

- Stub Article: A very basic description of the topic. It provides very little meaningful content; may be little more than a dictionary definition. Any editing or additional material can be helpful. The provision of meaningful content should be a priority.

Finding out an article's classification can be a very helpful way for a student to decide whether the information and most importantly the sources in an article are reliable and could be used in their own research. To find out more details about the classification criterias, follow this link.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

MOOCs in review

MOOCs are all the rage at the moment and causing a lot of debate, so we though that we'd do a little review of the currently available platforms to provide our students with some guidance through this area of rapid growth. For those of you who are just coming across the term for the first time, MOOC stands for Massive Online Open Courses, a term to describe a range of free online courses on a variety of topics that anyone is free to sign up to and study. These studies are usually by correspondence online, with assignments to complete and sometimes verifiable certificates are awarded at the end of a course.


Today, we've decided to take a bit of a closer look at what they have to offer and whether any of them would of interest to our students. We'll start with some of the more established MOOC platforms and work our way down to some of the other alternatives in the world of open learning.

Coursera is an online platform allowing you to search for MOOCs and enlist for them. It's one of the longest running platforms, established since 2012 and seems to have the most established reputation. The courses available on Coursera are provided by reputable universities from around the globe (Yale, L'Ecole Polytechnique, Edinburgh University, et al.). They offer short courses from 5 to 15 weeks with set starting dates and an enrolment process. You can search for courses by category and by the language they're taught in. Some of the courses will offer verified certificates. The following types of courses may be of interest to students: Beauty, Form & Function: An Exploration of SymmetryCreating Site-Specific Dance and Performance Works or Live!: A History of Art for Artists, Animators and Gamers.

Edx is a similar type of platform governed by MIT and Harvard, which started mid 2013. and offers a range of courses from reputable American, Australian and Asian universities. Some of the courses have set enrolment dates, while others can be completed in your own time at your own pace. You can search for courses by school or by category. There are currently no Art and Design or Architecture categories on offer in their portfolio, but some of our design students might be interested in more technical courses such as Building Mobile ExperiencesCircuits and Electronics or Autonomous Mobile Robots in the Computer Science section of the portfolio.

Future Learn is the new British alternative to these American MOOC platforms. It launched in July 2013 and is still in Beta testing mode. The courses on offer are all from reputable British universities and vary in lengths a lot more than the model set by their American counterparts, ranging from 2 to 10 weeks, all with set enrolment dates. As it stands at present, once again, you won't necessarily find specific Art and Design or Architecture courses, but you might choose to follow a course on a more unexpected topic, which could go on to fuel your creative imagination. Courses of interest might be The Discovery of the Higgs bosonThe secret power of brands or Muslims in Britain: changes and challenges. is another relatively newcomer, based in America and offering a range of free online courses provided by universities around the world. It's home page can be confusing to navigate, but if you disregard the top search box and go straight to BROWSE BY CATEGORY below that, you can browse their selection of free online courses by category. Once again, you won't necessarily find specific Art and Design or Architecture courses, but you might be interested in some of their Humanities or Web Design content. Courses of interest might be Reinventing the fairy tale or Drawings & Numbers: Five Centuries of Digital Design.

Udacity is another MOOC platform, however the course content on offer is provided by companies such as Google, AutoDesk, etc with a much more focused emphasis on computer science related topics. The short free courses on offer seem to act as gateways towards longer, fee charging online courses provided by the same companies.

The Khan Academy deviates from the rest of the MOOC model set out above. It's a free instructional resource with over 4,000 video lectures on a huge range of subjects. These online recorded lectures seem to be mostly geared towards American undergraduate students and are available to dip in and out of. The most likely area of interest is probably the section on Art History, with some lectures on more contemporary art and some architecture in the 1907-1960 Age of Global Conflict course as well as the 1960 - Age of Post-Colonialism.

More in the original spirit of open learning, you can also access courses on platforms such as Wikiversity, a strand project from the Wikimedia foundation and P2PU (Peer to Peer University). The aim of these platforms are to encourage individuals to feel empowered to share knowledge without needing the official sanction of a university or formal teaching body. Both platforms are still very much under development and don't currently offer any content in the Art and Design or Architecture departments. Other projects in the same vein though are the Instructables website, where individuals can share instructions on DIY making projects. Of course, the risk in all these more open platforms is that it is a lot harder to verify that the person offering the course content are sufficiently knowledgeable to do so.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Journal Articles available to Listen to Online

For any of our students who maybe struggle with reading long journal articles, even though it would be of great benefit to their research, we're happy to announce that there might be a solution to their troubles. Art and Architecture Complete, our main dedicated Journals database now offers the possibility to listen to journal articles as MP3s. You can choose between an English or American accent and the software highlights the part of the sentence being read as it goes through the text.

This option is only available for articles which offer the HTML Full-Text option, but when doing a search you can limit the number of results to Full-Text only and from there you can easily spot the HMTL Full-Text articles. 
To access Art and Architecture Complete, you must look it up in the GSA Library catalogue and follow the link you'll find on its catalogue entry. If you need any further help on accessing online journal articles, please feel free to come and ask for help at the GSA Librarian's office, on the 2nd floor of the library.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Adventures in Wikipedia: The elusive Talwin Morris

For our second weekly blog post on our Adventures in Wikipedia, this week we'll be looking at Talwin Morris, the subject of one of the GSA Library displays on Level 2, next to the Librarian's office.


Talwin Morris has always been of interest to our Fine Art Librarian Duncan Chappell as the GSA Library holds a large number of his Glasgow Style book bindings in its Special Collections. At the time when he first started looking at the Wikipedia entry it was just a stub with 2 or 3 lines and a broken link, so he decided to take it on as a first project.

The fact that there was so little information in the article sparked off an interesting conversation amongst our group because it's generally assumed that if an article on Wikipedia is just a few lines long, it's not a good article. However, in the case of someone like Talwin Morris and other people from around his time and before then, there's generally a lot less information available in print from the time on their life and their work than what you would expect nowadays. So in the case of someone like Talwin Morris, the person writing the stub article could have researched their subject really well, but have only been able to find a few verifiable facts which they could include in the article leaving it as just a stub. 

That's where the role of librarians and archivists can become really crucial in their contributions to Wikipedia. Thanks to his access to primary source materials and his in-depth knowledge of the subject, Duncan was able to completely rewrite the article, adding vital and hard to find information on Talwin Morris' early life, his career and various commissions he undertook for book-bindings and other decorative arts.

We hope that thanks to this Wikipedia article, other people and maybe even scholars will have access to good reputable sources for any future research into the life and works of Talwin Morris. Duncan will continue to add to the article as new information comes to light through his personal research.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Free Getty books online

The Getty Museum have just released over 250 books online free to view and download as PDFs via Google Books. Find the full list of titles now available

There are a whole range of books including some titles on Drawing and Painting, on Sculpture and on Photography:

Oudry’s Painted Menagerie: Portraits of Exotic Animals in Eighteenth-Century France

Walker Evans: Florida

Anglo-American Exchange in Postwar Sculpture, 1945–1975

Find the full list of titles now available here.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Adventures in Wikipedia: In search of Glasgow Architects

Last term, our Library and Archives team received Wikipedia training from Wikimedia UK volunteer Graeme Arnott and NLS Wikimedian-in-Residence Ally Crockford as part of a new library initiative looking into how Wikipedia could be used as a tool by students in their studies.

This term, we will endeavour to share with you the results of our adventures in Wikipedia and hopefully shed some light on different aspects of the world's largest open-source encyclopaedia. This week, we'd like to share with you our Architecture Librarian David Buri's discoveries, when he started looking into Scottish Architects on Wikipedia:

"Wikipedia’s listing of ‘Scottish architects’ featured 82 names, only 15 of whom had any sort of connection with Glasgow. I based this finding on Gomme and Walker’s book ‘Architecture of Glasgow’, which is a highly respected work. The vast majority of the 82 architects were Edinburgh-based, and only 3 were women.

To redress the geographical balance a bit, I have added the names of 9 further architects associated with Glasgow to the Wikipedia list, all of whom already had Wikipedia pages, and made links to these pages. There are, however, a further 53 names on Gomme and Walker’s list who do not appear on the Wikipedia list of Scottish architects, and who also do not have Wikipedia pages. It would be great to work through these names in the long term, particularly as some nationally-important figures are missing.

My next challenge is to improve the Wikipedia article on one of my favourite Glaswegian architects, James Miller!"

David's discovery made us realise a few unexpected things about Wikipedia. First of all, the fact that these lists like Scottish Architects, Scottish Artists, etc... don't get automatically generated by Wikipedia as you might think, but in fact are written up by people/wikipedians just like the rest of the content of Wikipedia. The implications of that are that lists of that type can often be incomplete, because the person who was writing it chose to only add the names of the people they know about, or were only able to find so many names, or maybe even see this list as a work in progress which they'll keep adding to as new names come up. The second thing it made us realise, is that just because someone's name isn't on the list, doesn't mean they're not featured on Wikipedia, so don't just limit your searches there. Since then, we've also discovered that some of the architects are listed under their architecture firms instead of having their own entry, so it's important to widen your search parameters.

David has now expanded the start article for James Miller, which will soon be reclassified to a higher grading (more on article gradings in a future blog post). We'll also be giving students attending Robyne Calvert's Inside Out: Glasgow Architecture Term 2 FoCI elective the opportunity to upload information they find on some of Glasgow's missing architects up on Wikipedia.

Keep following this blog for more information on our Wikipedia adventures!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Building with Light: the Legacy of Robert Elwall – An International Symposium on Architectural Photography

The Royal Institute of British Architects has announced an international symposium on architectural photographyto coincide with the retrospective of the British architectural photographer Edwin Smith (1912-1971), whose extensive body of work has helped redefine the notion of post WW II British Architecture.

Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire, 1959 The Nave Vault by Edwin Smith (1912- )

The symposium will seek to honour the legacy of Robert Elwall (1953-2012), acclaimed historian of architectural photography and curator of the RIBA's Photographs Collection that now bears his name. The Robert Elwall Photographs Collection is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the study of the influence of photography on architecture and the creative process.

The symposium will be held 13 -14 November 2014 in London.

Keep an eye out for more details and a call for paper, which will be posted on in the spring.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Mackintosh Library

As some of you may know, we re-opened the Mackintosh Library last week to all GSA staff and students. The first week was a great success, with students coming in to draw the space, take inspiration from Mackintosh's designs and browse some of the books in the collection.

One of the questions that kept coming up though is what's actually in the collection of the Mackintosh Library? And the answer is lots of amazing books that really need to see the light of day more often!

The Mackintosh Library houses some of our reference collection of older and rarer Special Collections books, along with our pre-1985 journals. It also houses publications on and by the School's staff and students, both past and present, and you've produced an exhibition catalogue as part of your course at GSA, you may well find it in there. Rare and archival items, including periodicals dating back to the early 19th century and publications about Charles Rennie Mackintosh are also housed here.

4th Years may be interested to come along and look at our collection of degree show catalogues, kept on the shelves in order of subject matter. Please contact our Trainee Librarian Delphine Dallison at if a group of you wish to arrange to come and view them.

Here's a few examples of items you might find:

Every copy of MacMag which has been published since the start of the magazine in 1974

The complete collection of Vogue Magazine from 1945 to 1985

June 1931 - April 1939 copies of Needlewoman 
(most issues include transfer pattern supplements)

1930 - 1982 copies of the National Geographic Magazine

1893 - 1963 copies of the Studio, a major influence on the development of the 
Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements in Europe

A full size collection of reproduction posters from the 1900s

Other great journals and books such as the Architectural Review, 
the Grammar of Ornaments and Camera Work

All of these publication are featured in the GSA Library catalogue should you wish to look them up for further information. Please feel free to drop by and ask the duty librarian more about the collection during open hours on Wednesdays 2pm - 4pm or contact us by email at with any of your questions.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

More than just a shoe?

Follow this link for an example of how designing shoes can be used as a device for telling a story. Designer Sebastian Errazuriz has created an entire collection of sculptural footwear inspired by previous relationships...

"Jet-setter" Jessica

"Gold Digger" Alison

"The Boss" Rachel

"The Rock" Alice

Monday, January 13, 2014

Women in the University

Glasgow University have produced an invaluable online resource for gender studies and women's history studies with their Women in the University section of The University of Glasgow Story website. In this fabulous resource, Glasgow Uni have mapped out and produced accurate records for every notable woman who ever attended the University since women were first permitted entry to higher education.

Jane Arthur of Balshaw
Jane Arthur of Barshaw

As part of the resource, you'll be able to find 158 images and 283 biographies of women associated with the University, an introduction to the contributions women have made to the University, the records of 1187 women graduates from 1894 to 1914 and the Women in the University Rolls of Honour.

Jessie Campbell
Jessie Campbell

Follow this link if you want to learn more about women such as Isabella Elder and Jessie Campbell who helped champion access for women to higher education, but also if you want to learn about more recent Glasgow female role models such as Kay Carmichael or Rona MacKie.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Ever thought what Paisley would look like in Lego?

We all love a bit of LEGO and here's an opportunity to indulge in some miniature LEGO architecture! Go visit Brick City, exclusive to Paisley, a celebration of the world’s architecture, recreated using the toy of the century...LEGO bricks.

Brick City St Pancras
In this unique exhibition, professional LEGO artist Warren Elsmore has recreate building from all over the world, from London's Olympic Park to the Colosseum in Rome, not forgetting Vegas' iconic Strip. Members of the public have also been given the opportunity as part of the exhibition to create their own LEGO version of Paisley as a public art work.

Brick City

For the duration of Brick City only Paisley Museum is extending its opening hours to the following:

Wednesday, Friday and Saturday - 11am to 4pm
Tuesday and Thursday - 11am to 5.30pm
Sunday - 12pm to 5pm

The duration of the exhibition has been extended until the 2nd of March by popular demand, so make sure you get down there to see it!

To find out more, follow this link.

Brick City Bolshoi Ballet

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Dazed and Confused in VLE land? Help is at hand...

Struggling with the VLE? Can't find what you want and don't know where to look? It doesn't have to be that way and help is at hand to change that for 2014. Make a new start with the VLE and attend Vic Boyd's VLE Help session this Thursday 9th Jan from 12:30 - 1:30pm or next week on Thursday 16th same time in the Quiet Study Space, 2nd Floor in the Main GSA Library.

We look forward to seeing you there!