#GLTU10: Glasgow School of Art 28/6/13

Glasgow School of Art

Nine of us gathered in the magnificent Mackintosh Building (pictured above) for the latest GLTU visit, to @GSALibrary, and the second in collaboration withSALCTG. The Glasgow School of Art is internationally recognised as one of Europe’s foremost university-level institutions for creative education and research in fine art, design and architecture. The school was founded in 1845 as a centre of creativity promoting good design for the manufacturing industries and since then, has continuously evolved to reflect the needs of communities and embrace technological developments.

Unfortunately, the Mackintosh Library itself is closed for refurbishment, as is the present day library, but the Archive was a more than acceptable substitute. First of all, there was a tour of the archives by Archivist Susannah Waters, taking in the School’s heritage and the growth of the archive. After tea and cake (no library gathering is complete without them) Graduate Library Trainee Jennifer Higgins gave a presentation on how the Library supports students and researchers to interact with, and use, the range of resources available to them. There was a particular focus on the use of InfosmART, the School’s portfolio of online interactive modules in information and research skills which has been specifically designed for creative practitioners.

Jennifer herself (@matildawoodworm) has written a comprehensive account of the visit on the GSA Library News blog, so I’ll restrict myself to a few (of the many) points that particularly appealed to me.

  • GSA started out in what is now Tinderbox on Ingram Street. I knew it had once occupied the McLellan Galleries, but didn’t know this.
  • Archive items which might sound dull on the face of it have extra layers of interest in an art school. Prospectuses have beautiful covers. Inventories, dating from the 1850s, can include everything from books to plaster casts. Student registers throw up some very well-known names. (It was quite a thrill to see the page with entries for Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret and Frances MacDonald and Herbert MacNair.) Correspondence can throw up gems about which kind of animals should be used for life-drawing (not lions apparently).
  • Magnificent artwork can be casually produced from a drawer, for example, a picture of an Italian farmhouse by Joan Eardley which she painted while on a travelling scholarship in the 1940s.
  • The information seeking behaviour of art school students is different from others in HE – it’s very visual, with a heavy reliance on browsing. No getting irritated with the student looking for a “red book”! (This was actually quite familiar to me from working at Jordanhill where it was common to find piles of discarded picture books in which students had searched for just the right illustrations to take on teaching practice.) However, eventually, they WILL need information literacy skills, hence InfosmART. This looks like a very well-constructed programme which students from any institution could use.
  • In addition to being useful, material for art school students has to be visually arresting to be credible. InfosmART fits the bill. Wimba Create, a tool to convert Word documents into course content, was recommended.
  • The Library has just launched The Hatchery, a site to showcase how artists, writers and creatives have used its collections to inspire, challenge or expand their practice. This is an excellent idea which other libraries might want to investigate for their own areas of expertise.

At the end of the afternoon, we were sent off with a lovely goody bag. GLTU events have normally finished up in a pub or restaurant, but numbers for post-event socialising fluctuated and eventually dwindled to zero – until I went outside and came across Lynn (@lynncorrigan) who had missed the visit but was game for a curry. We can recommend Rawalpindi on Sauchiehall Street.

The pictures in the gallery below (other than the two of the goody bag) are by Michelle Kaye of GSA and are used with permission. There is also a Storify of the event.

For more information about GSA’s collections, follow the Library news blog linked to above and see their other blogs:

GSA Archives and Collections

Treasures of GSA Library

Architecture Resources

Art and Design Resources

Thanks to Jennifer, Susannah and Michelle for a fascinating visit.

Reblogged from the Glasgow Library Tweetups blogThanks to Anabel and the rest of the Library Tweetup folks for visiting!