Library of Congress Advisory Team Kicks off New Digitization Effort at Eckerd College

Photo: Participants in the Eckerd Digitization Advisory meeting include (l-r) Nancy Schuler, Lisa Johnston, Alexis Ramsey-Tobienne, Alyssa Koclanes, Mary Molinaro (Digital Preservation Network) George Coulbourne (Library of Congress), David Gliem, Arthur Skinner, Justine Sanford, Emily Ayers-Rideout, Nicole Finzer (Northwestern University), Kristen Regina (Philadelphia Museum of Art), Anna Ruth, and Brittney Sherley.

Participants in the Eckerd Digitization Advisory meeting include (l-r) Nancy Schuler, Lisa Johnston, Alexis Ramsey-Tobienne, Alyssa Koclanes, Mary Molinaro (Digital Preservation Network) George Coulbourne (Library of Congress), David Gliem, Arthur Skinner, Justine Sanford, Emily Ayers-Rideout, Nicole Finzer (Northwestern University), Kristen Regina (Philadelphia Museum of Art), Anna Ruth, and Brittney Sherley.

This is a guest post by Eckerd College faculty David Gliem, associate professor of Art History, and Nancy Schuler, librarian and assistant professor of Electronic Resources, Collection Development and Instructional Services.

On June 3rd, a meeting at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, brought key experts and College departments together to begin plans for the digitization of the College’s art collection. George Coulbourne of the Library of Congress assembled a team of advisers that included DPOE trainers and NDSR program providers from the Library of Congress, Northwestern University, the Digital Preservation Network, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University.

Advisers provided guidance on project elements including institutional repositories, collection design, metadata and cataloging standards, funding and partnership opportunities and digitization strategies. Suggestions will be used to design a digitization and preservation strategy that could be used as a model for small academic institutions.

Eckerd College is an undergraduate liberal arts institution known for its small classes and values-oriented curriculum that stresses personal and social responsibility, cross-cultural understanding and respect for diversity in a global society. As a tuition-dependent institution of 1,770 students, Eckerd is seeking ways to design the project to be cost-effective, while also ensuring long-term sustainability.

The initial goal of the project is to digitize the College’s large collection of more than 3000 prints, paintings, drawings and sculptures made by the founding faculty in the visual arts: Robert O. Hodgell (1922-2000), Jim Crane (1927-2015) and Margaret (Pegg) Rigg (1928-2011). Along with Crane (cartoonist, painter and collage artist) and Rigg (art editor of motive (always spelled with a lowercase “m”) magazine, as well as graphic designer, assemblage artist and calligrapher), Hodgell (printmaker, painter, sculptor, and illustrator) contributed regularly to motive, a progressive monthly magazine published by the Methodist Student Movement.

In print from 1941 to 1972, motive was hailed for its vanguard editorial and artistic vision and for its aggressive stance on civil rights, Vietnam, and gender issues. In 1965 the publication was runner-up to Life for Magazine of the Year and in 1966, Time magazine quipped that among church publications it stood out “like a miniskirt at a church social.” An entire generation of activists was shaped by its vision with Hodgell, Crane and Rigg playing an important role in forming and communicating that vision.

Eckerd’s position as a liberal arts college influenced by the tenets of the Presbyterian Church made it possible for these artists to converge and produce art that reflected society and promoted the emergence of activism that shaped the identity of the Methodist church at the time. Preserving these materials and making them available for broader scholarship will provide significant insight into the factors surrounding the development of the Methodist Church as it is today. Implementing the infrastructure to preserve, digitize and house the collection provides additional opportunities to add other College collections to the repository in the future.

The gathering also brought together relevant departments within Eckerd College, including representatives from the Library, Visual Arts and Rhetoric faculty, Information Technology Services, Marketing & Communications, Advancement and the Dean of Faculty. Having these key players in the room provided an opportunity to involve the broader campus community so efforts can begin to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project, while also highlighting key challenges unique to the College as seen by the external board of advisors.

Eckerd will now move forward to seek funding for the project, with hopes to integrate DPOE’s Train-the-trainer and an NDSR program to jump start and sustain the project through implementation. Potential partnerships and training opportunities with area institutions and local groups will be explored, as well as teaching opportunities to educate students about the importance of digital stewardship.

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