Creating my own space in the digital realm

Wheeler, Johnson-Houston, and Walker state that “At the end of the 18th century, African Americans who could read were virtually nonexistent (or invisible), except for a few in northern or free states” (Wheeler, 2004). During slavery, education of blacks was against the law in all of the southern states but Tennessee. It seems nothing short of miraculous that Thomas Fountain Blue, the subject of this paper, was able to accomplish what he did. It is important that we remember what these pioneering figures did to improve the lives of generations of African Americans, and unfortunate that so little is written about these men and women.

African Americans have experienced institutional segregation in the United States since the end of slavery. Naturally, this practice extended to public library services and was especially true in the southern states. While public libraries began to be established in the south after 1895, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that African Americans were able to gain greater access to libraries.  Even in the northern states, full integration of libraries was rare (Dumont, 1986). It is worth noting that some strides were made in the 19th century towards library service for African Americans such as a school and library established for African Americans in Wilmington, Delaware in 1816. Also, in 1886, the main library and the first four branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore opened and provided service to users of all races (Timeline in Library Development for African Americans, n.d.). Two of the first public libraries for African Americans were established at the beginning of the 20th century. In Memphis, Tennessee in 1903, the Cossitt Library partnered with LeMoyne Institute, a black normal school, to provide a librarian and books for a school library that was also available to residents. In Galveston, Texas in 1904, the Rosenberg Library built a branch for the city’s African-American residents. (Fultz, 2006).

In 1902, legislation created a free public library system in Louisville, Kentucky.  Albert Meyzeek, an African American and high school principal in Louisville, convinced the city’s library committee that African Americans should have access to library services. The Louisville Free Public Library opened in 1905 with a plan to establish a branch library for its “colored” citizens with funds already pledged by Andrew Carnegie.  (A Separate Flame, n.d.). Thomas Fountain Blue was chosen to head this branch.

Rev. Thomas Fountain Blue was born the son of slaves in Farmville, Virginia in 1866. He attended Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute and graduated in 1888.  He taught school in Virginia and then went on to study at Richmond Theological Seminary where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1898. He worked as a secretary of the YMCA and served soldiers of the Spanish-American War. He then moved to Louisville where he was secretary of the YMCA from 1899 to 1905.

In 1905, Blue became librarian of the Western Colored Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library, which occupied three rooms in a private home. Five years later, the Eastern Colored Branch opened with Blue heading it as well.  In 1920 he was named director of the library’s Colored Division. Blue was the first African American to head a public library system.   His reputation as the head of an efficient library serving black people spread nationwide.  He was mentioned in several publications and the head of the American Library Association (ALA) sent Blue a letter in which he praised his “excellent work” (Malone, 1995). Blue created an apprentice class for those wanting to enter library service which drew students from as far away as Houston. The class led to the establishment of the Hampton Library School in Virginia (A Separate Flame, n.d.).  In 1922, Blue presented a paper “Work with the Negro Roundtable” at the annual meeting of the ALA. In his paper, Blue discusses his librarian training class. The class was the first library training program offered in the South for African Americans and was in operation from 1912 until 1931 (Little Known Black Librarian Facts, 2012). Other groundbreaking achievements included Blue’s organization in 1927 of the First Negro Library Conference held at the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia.  Additionally, in 1923, Blue and his assistant Rachel Harris helped open the Paul Laurence Dunbar Branch of the George M. Jones Memorial Library in Lynchburg, Virginia. The branch provided library services to African Americans in Lynchburg (Little Known Black Librarian Facts, 2012).

Blue directed a myriad of auxiliary services in his libraries including:

  • City and county school collection rooms and book stations
  • Negro History Week programs
  • Lists of circulating books and pamphlets
  • Monthly book reviews
  • The Douglas Debating Club
  • Social club meetings and budget structure
  • The Story Hour
  • Comments and criticisms to other libraries
  • Historically significant speeches or papers
  • A collection of funny jokes, cartoons, and sayings

(Wright, 1955)

Thomas Fountain Blue died on November 10, 1935. On November 25, 1935, the Louisville Free Public Library Board of Trustees passed a resolution of appreciation of this library pioneer. The Reverend Thomas F. Blue Papers is a collection held at the Louisville Free Public Library that includes handwritten and typed notes, addresses, and articles about library work written and/or presented by Blue.  The collection also includes articles and resolutions about his life and career and photos of Blue, his staff, and his diplomas. The collection has been digitized and can be viewed at Those interested learning more about African American librarianship might seek information about people like Edward Christopher Williams who was the nation’s first professional African-American librarian, and Dr. Sadie Peterson Delaney, a pioneer in bibliotherapy (HONORING AFRICAN AMERICAN LIBRARIANS, 2013).


A Separate Flame. (n.d.). Retrieved from Louisville Free Public Library:

Dumont, R. (1986). Race in American librarianship: Attitudes of the library profession. Journal of Library History, 488-509.

Fultz, M. (2006). Black public libraries in the south in the era of de jure segregation. Libraries & the cultural record, 337-359.

HONORING AFRICAN AMERICAN LIBRARIANS. (2013). Retrieved from Smithsonian Libraries Unbound:

Little Known Black Librarian Facts. (2012). Retrieved from

Malone, C. (1995). Louisville Free Public Library’s racially segregated branches, 1905-35. The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, 159-179.

Timeline in Library Development for African Americans. (n.d.). Retrieved from American Libraries Magazine:

Wheeler, M. J.-H. (2004). A brief history of library service to African Americans. American Libraries, 42-45.

Wright, L. (1955). Thomas Fountain Blue, Pioneer Librarian.



For Z510-Introduction to Information Studies at Indiana University

Screen shot of Google search of the term assemblage art.


In this essay, I will evaluate two search engines, Yahoo! (, and Google (, by applying three related search terms to each system. I will compare and contrast response sets using some of Johnson, Griffiths, and Harltley’s (2003) criteria for evaluating information retrieval systems. I will also describe overlap and differences in those response sets.
Brief Description of Search Engine Interfaces

The Yahoo! and Google search homepages are both simple. The Yahoo! logo, a search box, and a search button appear at the top of Yahoo!’s page. Below that are links to top news stories, a display of local weather information, and links to trending searches. On the Google page, you see the Google logo at the top. Beneath that, we see the search box and a microphone logo. Clicking the microphone allows users to search via voice. Below the search box you see the “Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky.’ Buttons. Beneath that is a link to Google Translate. Links to information about the services appear at the bottom of each search page. I will describe the results pages of each system as I discuss the results of my searches.
Search Terms
My search terms were “assemblage art”, “found objects”, and “junk art.” I have an idea of what these terms mean and how they relate to each other, but I am not seeking specific information about them. The search is purely exploratory. I expect to find current and historical references to this type of art.

Evaluation Criteria

I have chosen to evaluate my search results according to criteria described in a paper by Johnson, Griffiths, and Hartley (2003). The paper’s authors studied how a group of users evaluated three search engines relative to these categories:
• Effectiveness
• Utility
• Efficiency
• Interaction
My evaluation will focus on Effectiveness, Utility, and Interaction. Effectiveness can be defined as a measure of how satisfied the user is with the relevance of search results. Utility indicates how useful the results are to the user. Interaction has to do with the ease with which the search results can be modified and refined (Johnson, Griffiths, and Hartley, 2003).

Search #1: assemblage art in Yahoo!

A simple search on the term “assemblage art” resulted in 1,480,000 results. The search engine suggested that I try these other terms: assemblage art ideas, mixed media assemblage art, assemblage art sculpture, assemblage art artists, how to make an assemblage, assemblage art jewelry, assemblage art dolls, how to make assemblage art.

All of the links returned on the first five pages of Web results were relevant. All of the results could be of use to me as they provided an overview of the subject including links to examples on Pinterest, and references to encyclopedia entries and artists in the field. This was a very useful search for someone seeking an introduction to this art form. The suggested search terms were helpful in that they offered other points of access to the topic. The suggested terms function as a thesaurus for users who are new to the topic. The system serves as a guide to the user.

The system automatically refines the search by providing results in different categories. Results for Images and Video were clearly relevant. News results required clicking through and reading further to determine relevancy, but someone new to the topic is probably not seeking this type of information. One can narrow results by source within the News results, but I didn’t find this function particularly useful. The More drop-lists gives additional avenues of search. These are local, Answers, Shopping, Auto, Recipes, Sports, Finance, Celebrity, Dictionary, and Games. Answers was the only option that yielded relevant results.

Search #1: assemblage art in Google

My simple search in Google returned 31,800,000 results. The featured result was an article from a resource calling itself an Encyclopedia of Art. The featured text briefly outlined the art form and mentioned two artists famous in this genre. Suggested alternate terms were similar to those offered by Yahoo! Google’s image results greatly overlapped those of Yahoo!’s images. Both systems provide a variety of ways to filter image results. I was able to dig a little deeper using Google’s tools for narrowing my search. There were many relevant results under Shopping, Maps, and Apps. The ability to search under the Books category is a feather in Google’s hat. Overall, for the type of information I was seeking, both systems were quite effective. Someone performing a more serious search could use one of these systems as a starting point, and then consult more specialized resources.

Search #2: found objects in Yahoo! and Google

Yahoo!’s simple search on the term found objects seemed to slant toward opportunities for shopping, whereas more of Google’s results related to using found objects in art. However, when I filtered by the Shopping category, Google’s results were more plentiful than those of Yahoo!’s Shopping page. Both systems returned an abundant number of images with a lot of overlap between the two. Someone seeking information on this topic would do better to click a favorite image and explore its source site. Google’s suggested terms were more art related than Yahoo!’s, and they provide access to a deeper search into the topic.

Search #3: junk art in Yahoo! and Google

Yahoo! did better with junk art than it did with found objects. Probably the word art makes the term more focused. Google’s results seemed again more helpful than those of Yahoo! A searcher seeking information on junk art history will have better luck with Google. Both systems returned similar alternate search terms. I would again advise users to delve into the Image areas of both search engines to find the most relevant and interesting results.

The following graph shows that the Google search yielded more results for all of the search sets in this test.



I will conclude by saying that simple searches such as the ones conducted here can yield effective results in both Yahoo! and Google. As a person who is not an expert on this type of art, I could find entry points to the genre by clicking many of the first page results for these searches. Because this is a topic about visual objects, using the Image filter is a great advantage to someone who simply wishes to dip their toes into the waters of this topic. There was some overlap in results between the search engines, but if I had been really interested in learning about this area, it would have been to my advantage to look closely at results for both systems, as quite a few unique documents were retrieved. Sorting and filtering results for both systems worked in a similar way. Google just seemed better to me. I think that Google’s large number of results provided me with more options for exploration than did Yahoo! Too many results can overwhelm and frustrate users, but too few do not necessarily offer them sufficient options.
In the end, it all depends on how important your search is and how much time you have. A better option for me would be to visit the Fine Arts Library and talk to an actual Librarian.


Johnson, Griffiths, and Hartley. (2003). Task dimensions of user evaluations of information retrieval systems. Information Research, 8(4)


I wish that I had documented my process for doing this assignment. I didn’t do that, so I’ll have to piece it together from memory. I’ll link to sections of the LibGuide as I go. To begin, here’s an excerpt from the scope note I submitted in October.

Whitney Sperrazza’s HASTAC project is titled “Feeling Violation: Digital/Physical Approaches to Sexual Violence.” When I met with Whitney, she was not able to formulate a research question, but she is interested in finding out how digital tools and methods can be used to help readers “…gain new critical perspectives on literary representations of sexual violence and the writing and reading bodies interacting with those representations.”

I never got a clear idea of what Whitney is trying to accomplish with this project. It occurs to me now to ask what the readers she mentioned would do with those new “critical perspectives.” It might have been worth it to ask her what the existing critical perspectives are.

Being the Librarian

I’ll discuss my search strategies and my attempt to help Whitney conduct her own searches. Since I’m in school learning how to be a librarian, I thought I’d start with Library of Congress Subject Headings.









Subject Headings and Keywords

Below is a table showing the subject headings (grouped by topic) that were useful in my searches of scholarly databases.

Topic: Theater and Drama, Headings: Theater, Acting, Feminism and theater, Feminist theater, Sex in the theater, Violence in the theater, Women in the theater Topic: Rape, Headings: Rape in art, Rape in literature, Rape trauma syndrome, Rape victims, Rape victims in literature, Sexual abuse victims, Sex crimes, Topic: Therapeutic Modalities, Headings Dance therapy, Authentic movement (dance therapy), Art therapy, music therapy

Click image to enlarge.

I experimented with these keywords when searching Google.

  • language of sexual violence
  • dance therapy for rape victims
  • art therapy for rape victims
  • rape survivor stories
  • rape survivor poetry
  • sexual violence
  • haptic aesthetics


The databases I consulted included Gender Studies DatabaseMLA International BibliographyPsychINFO, and Counseling and Therapy in Video. I also suggested the use of Twentieth Century American Poetry.

Tips and Tricks

The search tips I placed in the LibGuide included links to pre-existing help content in the LibGuides environment. I also embedded video tutorials on using EBSCO Host and ProQuest. I got the impression that Whitney wasn’t looking for help from a librarian, so I hope she can at least benefit from the search advice.

In Their Own Words

Because Whitney was interested in how sexual violence feels, I decided to go to the source and find stories told by people who have experienced this violence. I searched Google using the phrase “rape victim stories.”  This yielded lots of results, which says a lot about our society.

Stories on Video Google Search Results: Rape Victim Stories A Rape Survivor's Story Written Stories, Survivor Websites, Social Media... Dancing in the Darkness - Over 650 survivor stories. Survivor Stories on "Over the Rainbow." Scars from the past, surviving rape - A Pinterest board about surviving rape 27 Survivors Of Sexual Assault Quoting The People Who Attacked Them - On BuzzFeed, Project Unbreakable is an online photography project that aims to “encourage the act of healing through art.” Project Unbreakable

Click image to visit the page.

The Arts

Whitney told be that she had been looking at Renaissance poetry and drama for depictions of sexual violence, so I decided to include other arts disciplines in my materials search. I gathered links to articles, papers, books, and images that touched on the topic. They can be found in the “Sexual Violence in Literature and the Arts” section of the LibGuide.

This painting is an example of sexual violence depicted in visual art.

Le Rapt à l'age de pierre, 1888, Paul Jamin

Le Rapt à l’age de pierre, 1888, Paul Jamin

Modes of Therapy

The LibGuide includes a section with links to information about art, dance, and music therapy. I don’t know how useful this would be to Whitney, but I felt I would be remiss not to address the topic of recovery from sexual violence. There is also a section titled “The Body and Movement.” This section includes links to resources about Laban Movement Analysis. If Whitney chooses to dig deeper into this area, I think she would need to consult an expert.

Tech Tools and Other Projects

Whitney indicated that she needed to learn about some of the technologies used in implementing digital humanities projects. I provided a list of web resources that discuss a wide variety of technology tools. I don’t know exactly what she envisions for the project, so I just grabbed what I could find so she can use it as a jumping off point.

I listed some DH projects that might be similar to what she wants to do, but I’m not sure that I hit the mark. She did show me a project that peaked her interest called “the real white faces of australia.” It is an experimental browser showing images of people who were affected by the White Australia Policy.

Screenshot from the "real faces of white australia."

Click image to visit site.












Now that I’ve taken a second look at this project, I’m hoping that Whitney can do something like it. She might have to scrap a lot of her initial ideas and open up to new possibilities, but something great could happen.

Wrapping it Up

I loved this assignment! I love searching for stuff! I think I need to do a DH project even though I don’t think I fully understand what one is. I’m not sure anyone really knows what makes something qualify as a Digital Humanities project. Maybe we shouldn’t use the term Digital Humanities. Perhaps, since everything done these days is touched by the digital, we should just do what we do, and then put it online. That’s a topic for another post.


Whitney Sperrazza’s HASTAC project is titled “Feeling Violation: Digital/Physical Approaches to Sexual Violence.” When I met with Whitney, she was not able to formulate a research question, but she is interested in finding out how digital tools and methods can be used to help readers “…gain new critical perspectives on literary representations of sexual violence and the writing and reading bodies interacting with those representations.” Her initial exploration of this area involved extracting words from Renaissance poetry that described sexually violent acts and then rendering those words as three-dimensional objects that could be touched by readers of the work.  Recently, Whitney has begun looking at stage direction in Renaissance plays depicting sexual violence. She is interested in how the actors bodies are directed to respond to acts of violence. My understanding of the project is that it is an exploration the language of sexual violence and the human body’s response to that language.

Whitney identified her audience as other scholars interested in this type of work. I think that her project would be useful to playwrights and novelists who seek to accurately convey the feelings of violence in words and actions. It might also be of interest to art and dance therapy practitioners, psychologists, and anyone who studies the effects of language on the body.

Below are preliminary lists of subject areas and keywords to be used in the search for resources.

LC Subject Headings

Theater and Drama

Theater, Acting, Feminism and theater, Feminist theater, Sex in the theater, Violence in the theater, Women in the theater


Rape in art, Rape in literature, Rape trauma syndrome, Rape victims, Rape victims in literature, Sexual abuse victims, Sex crimes

Therapeutic Modalities

Dance therapy, Authentic movement (dance therapy), Art therapy, music therapy


Laban Movement Analysis, language of sexual violence, dance therapy for rape victims, art therapy for rape victims, rape survivor stories, rape survivor poetry, haptic aesthetics


If one is seeking to understand the feeling of being sexually violated, it makes sense to ask those who have been violated. So, rather than going first to academic journals, I began with simple Internet searches for victim/survivor stories. This search resulted in first-hand accounts of rape in various formats including written narrative, poetry, art, and spoken word. In my opinion, these primary sources will be of the greatest use to Whitney.

As for secondary sources, I am looking at databases such as the “Gender Studies Database,” ‘PsychINFO,” and the “MLA International Bibliography.”  Here I hope to identify resources about feminist views on sexual violence, therapy for victims of sexual violence, and the treatment of sexual violence in theater and literature.

Other DH Projects

I have found a few digital humanities projects that might serve as exemplars. Psychasthenia 2 is an interactive artwork that allows users to experience something physical. It is, however, something that must be visited in-person. North American Slave Narratives is a project that features first-hand accounts of African American slaves in the United States. Whitney may choose to feature sexual violence victim stories in a similar fashion. The Canterbury Earthquake Digital Archive is a good example of assembling a variety of materials to immerse the user in a particular experience.

I look forward to creating the LibGuide for this project. The challenge for me will be to provide Whitney with a lot of options without sending her in a hundred different directions.


Found here from the Quick Fact Sheet link. Clicking that link downloads a Publisher file.

I should quit

I should quit Facebook
It always reminds me of the bad things
Like corrupt cops, and politicians, etc
But then I see the animals
The dog who slides down a flight of stairs
Clumsy cats
Elephants who paint pictures
Tigers in cardboard boxes
Animals are alright
Animals are good
I want to be one


Julie Hardesty giving Digital Library Brown Bag talk.

Julie Hardesty giving Digital Library Brown Bag talk.

I recently attended this IU Digital Library Brown Bag talk:”Let it go: Exposing digital collections for accessible and useful data.” The presenter was Juliet L. Hardesty, a Metadata Analyst for IU Libraries. The abstract for the talk follows:

How do you usefully combine digital repository, library catalog, and library website data so researchers can discover and make use of the data in support of their research? This session discusses plans to combine IU Libraries’ digital repository data with library catalog and IUB Libraries’ web site data to create a Solr-indexed data source that preserves context and provides thorough, useful, and sharable access to the information, collections, and resources at the Indiana University Libraries.

I’ll start by saying that the talk was quite technical. It wasn’t overly technical but as a newbie to this digital library world, I felt that maybe I wasn’t going to fully understand all of what Ms. Hardesty had to say. That’s okay though. You can’t learn until you find out that there’s stuff you don’t know. I decided to key in on terms that seemed important.

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