Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thousands of pictures worth millions of words




There are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them. 

--Diane Arbus, 1972

From the first horses scrawled roughly on cave walls to the latest Pixar film in 3-D, no art form in history has experienced as rapid an ascent -- or such astonishing evolution -- as photography. Through it all, it has remained a vital tool for self-reflection and a compelling product of human creativity. Silent and omnipresent, photography plays a role in all of our lives, every single day -- many times a day -- and yet never loses its inherent power to teach, delight, comfort, or overwhelm us.

Over the past few months, we at Piedmont College Libraries have been working hard to grow our collection of fine art photography monographs, nearly doubling the number of volumes in Class TR (which is where you'll find them, on the last row of the 4th floor of the Arrendale Library). From a small selection of books dealing mostly in black-and-white fashion and landscape photography from the mid-1900s, our collection has expanded to include the groundbreaking color work of pioneers like William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, the highly-stylized pop art of David LaChapelle and Gregory Crewdson, and the poignant social critique of Joel Sternfeld and Martin Parr. We've also gone back in time and acquired several masterpieces of the genre that had never sat on our shelves -- peerless classics like Robert Frank's The Americans, Bernd and Hilla Becher's Industrial Landscapes, Stephen Shore's Uncommon Places, Richard Avedon's Performance, William Eggleston's Guide, and Walker Evans' American Photographs. No photography collection is complete without these touchstones, and now they're available to you at the Piedmont College Library.


This project is ongoing. We've already purchased many significant new works, such as Richard Misrach's Petrochemical America -- which inspired the striking visual style of the hit HBO drama True Detective -- and Robert Polidori's After the Flood, which covers the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster...and we will continue to collect these important cultural and artistic documents. You can browse the newest additions by clicking here. As always, we love requests, so please -- if you don't see your favorite photographer in the stacks, let us hear about it!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

AAUP Opposes Trigger Warnings

A subcommittee of the American Association of University Professors has drafted and approved a statement opposing the use of trigger warnings in the classroom. The document supports academic freedom and takes the following position:
The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual. It makes comfort a higher priority than intellectual engagement and--as the Oberlin list demonstrates--it singles out politically controversial topics like sex, race, class, capitalism, and colonialism for attention. 
Indeed, if such topics are associated with triggers, correctly or not, they are likely to be marginalized if not avoided altogether by faculty who fear complaints for offending or discomforting some of their students. Although all faculty are affected by potential charges of this kind, non-tenured and contingent faculty are particularly at risk. In this way the demand for trigger warnings creates a repressive, “chilly climate” for critical thinking in the classroom.
Read the complete "On Trigger Warnings" (August 2014).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tug of the Past, Lure of the Future

Sociologist Allison Hurst helped launch the Association of Working Class Academics with a membership composed of "faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, staff, and administrators from working- or poverty-class backgrounds."

Among other research, Hurst has published an engaging study of working-class students and describes the many challenges they face in the realm of higher education:
Limited expectations, unfamiliarity with the college application process, transportation troubles (to tests, to campuses, to interviews), the perceived "treachery” of moving away from friends and family, the exorbitant cost of college and the necessity to work and take on unmanageable debt--all of these factors play a role in the decision to go to college. A few working-class students are either fortunate enough to find mentors who will help guide them through this process or are perseverant enough to make a way for themselves. 
It is crucial to understand, while applying to college is rarely easy, it is much more difficult for some, so much so that many working-class undergraduates feel they have “made it” simply by entering college. . . . [T]oo often there is a “myth of classlessness” operating on our campuses, that by the fact that all are here all are similar. This could not be farther from the truth.
Read more from College and the Working Class: What It Takes to Make It (2012).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

We Were All Freshmen Once

Julie Wollman, president of Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, enrolled in a spring music class with a group of undergraduates. Her experience helped to connect (and reconnect) her with many of the challenges and concerns that new college students bear:
"I’m really nervous about going to the second class, afraid I’ll be the only one who isn’t any good. I’m not taking it for credit or a grade, but the thought actually crosses my mind that I should skip class; after all, I can offer a good excuse. I am shocked to realize that, 36 years after I started my freshman year of college, being in a simple but challenging class well out of my comfort zone, I am again looking for excuses to miss class. So I go, despite my fear. Before class, waiting for the professor to arrive, I chat with my classmates about how hard it is to breathe right and make a sound come out and I feel less alone in my incompetence."
Read the rest of "Becoming a Freshman, Again" at InsideHigherEducation.com.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Libraries Are Not a Netflix for Books

Part of a commentary by librarian Kelly Jensen:
"It is not the goal of the library to make money. Nor is it the goal of the library to create levels of service so that those who can afford to indulge will receive more while those who can’t, don’t. Instead, libraries work to ensure their services reach as many facets of their community as possible. Libraries want to offer what they can to those who have nothing and those who maybe have everything."
Read the rest at BookRiot.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Why Students Need Librarians

"We recognize knowledge in action when we see it done effectively, but too many professors don’t teach this fundamental skill systematically and progressively as part of an academic program. . . . [F]rom community colleges to the Ivy League, a significant learning gap is widening. Librarians, trained in both digital and print research techniques, are in the best position to step into the breach. But that will require more support for library services at a time when budgets are under siege. And it will take an administrative commitment to ensure that training is incorporated comprehensively throughout the curricula."

Read the rest of "At Sea in a Deluge of Data" (Chronicle.com, July 7, 2014).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Free eBooks from Routledge




According to the website Open Culture ("the best free cultural and educational media on the web"), scholarly publisher Routledge is making 6,000 ebooks available for free during the month of June, including "lots of works focused on Economics, Finance and Business; Politics and International Relations; and Philosophy and Cultural Studies."

The giveaway is fast winding down, so take a look today!