Final Reflections

Coming from the Collection Development course in Spring 2017 helped me work on the Benson and Munni Kabir collections. I learned the theory of how to evaluate materials and then put those concepts to work at the Auxillary Library Facility. I’ve laid hands on every single item unpacking every book onto a scores of shelves at the ALF and helped decided whether to add the items to the Southeast Asian collection. I feel close to these materials.

While I was familiar with the independence movement in India and basic Indian history, my knowledge of film in India has deepened; something I did not expect! The Indian film industry felt overwhelming, I was worried it would be hard to grasp a wide understanding of the country’s film pursuits. After pouring through bibliographies, I’m starting to recognize the top scholars on different topics and I would be able to steer scholars in the right direction. This was exactly the kind of experience I was looking for in an internship. Before the internship, I identified one of the gaps in my Library Science education was working with collections and instruction. I will be staying on with Karen until I graduate in May 2018, I’m excited to see what’s in store next semester.

Access Decisions: The Kabir Collection

Where to place materials for users to access? With about ten research libraries, several residential program libraries, and the Auxillary Library Facility, it can be hard to decide where to place materials for user access. A bulk of my tasks as an intern have surrounded collection development, from working with new materials every day, I can confidently say the hardest part of the process is deciding a resource’s final destination.

Over the summer, Karen traveled to London and met with Nasreen Munni Kabir, an Indian film critic looking sell her collection of books and film scripts. IU Libraries bought a portion of her rare film scripts, Filmfare magazines, and books. The first shipment of materials arrived a few weeks ago, and we’ve just finished processing the materials before tech services catalogs the materials. We came across several music reference books covering Bollywood film songs and rather than make them available for checkout at Wells, music reference items are sent to the reference section in the Music Library. We look at the WorldCat records to compare holdings across the world, and within the U.S. A large portion of the items are not held by less than five academic libraries in the U.S. Due to the rarity those items are put under “ALF Restrict.” If users wish to access these materials, the books will be sent to the secure reading room at Wells Library where the user can access the materials for research. We hesitated to designate so many materials as “ALF restrict.” However, with rare materials, the risk for loss is higher. How and when does the restrict label affect access?

Getting Hyped for India Remix

Here in the South Asian Studies library department, we have begun gearing up for India Remixed in Spring 2018 –performances, film screenings, art exhibitions, public talks, and student collaborations that highlight Indiana University’s deep cultural ties to India. I’m most excited for author Salman Rushdie and filmmaker Mira Nair’s talks, respectively. I’m a big fan of Monsoon Wedding and Mississippi Masala. To prepare we’ve been working on the research guide to South Asian film, designing a book display, exhibit, and pop-up library, and partnering with faculty.

First, we must make sure the IU Library has each visitor’s works in the collection. I made a spreadsheet with each visiting artist and scholar then compiled a list of every published work and whether or not we had a copy. We will buy any work we don’t own and buy more copies of Mira Nair’s films. When confirming we owned every Salman Rushdie book, Karen advised me to check for the physical copy of Satanic Verses. Often users steal Satanic Verses as its provoked great controversy among Muslims. Sure enough, the physical copy of Satanic Verses was nowhere to be found, time to reorder.

A subject’s department events, series, and speakers are reflected in the subject’s library collections and activities. When a new speaker series rolls around, the corresponding librarian to the topic coordinates with the event hosts to design exhibits, hold workshops, or highlight collections relevant to the event. The library supports the larger institutional goals and academic objectives in this way.

The Almighty LibGuide: Dividing Sections

After consulting other research guides at IU and consulting web writing advice, I decided to divide the South Asian film research guide along several sections. The first chunk concerns the relevant resource types at IU about the subject: articles, books, reference materials, and films. I paired each section header with an action verb, for example, “Find books” or “where” phrases like “Where to Watch.” In the Find Books section, I wanted to highlight some books from the collection with their Call Number for easy searching and finding. With this gesture, the LibGuide eliminates at least two additional steps to access. Students can click the text of the title to link directly to the catalog entry for each highlighted book as well; this tip came from a LibGuide tip forum on Reddit. Since it’s my first time building a research guide, for almost every placement decision I consulted an outside source, such as a library blog or the Springshare tutorials.

In the “Find Articles” section, I decided to highlight the journals that cover South Asian film industry, critical theory, reviews, and other scholarship. I paid careful attention to the scope of each journal to decide whether or not to include it in the guide. We only subscribe to one journal that covers only South Asian film, to add more titles I looked towards cultural theory, film theory, and more to cast a wider net.

The Almighty LibGuide: Content Creation

I’ll mainly be digging deep into our catalog to help undergraduates and the guide will be more than directional as well. I also will use the guide sparingly to define and explain concepts when necessary, for example, often the Western concepts of film genres do not match Indian genres. Identifying and understanding the particularities of Indian genres & cinema movements has implications for searching. Therefore it is justified to use the guide to define concepts as well as a directional guide. On the landing page, I’ve included searching tips specific to South Asian film resources. Studies show students scan the landing page, so information is best organized in bullets with simple short language. I’ve still decided to include search tips such as

“Change your spelling. Indian film stars often change the spelling of their names or change names altogether. Sometimes stars will be identified by their honorific, nickname, or first name only. Stars often have several different nicknames.”

Again, understanding the name changes has implications for searching on the user end. It makes sense to include this information if students claim they can’t find any IU resources on a film industry individual, we can advise them to change their spelling. Here, creating the libguide has also increased my knowledge of film resources on South Asian film. A skill I’m excited to highlight in future job applications.

The Almighty LibGuide: Defining Scope

As the South Asian Studies collection grows, Karen has decided to focus on building the South Asian film collection as well as resources for studying South Asian Film history, theory, and more. The IU Cinema has hosted an Indian film series focusing on a variety of themes. Two undergraduate courses in the Spring 2018 semester will focus on Indian and South Asian film. To speak to the growing interest and specialized collection of South Asian film, we’ve been compiling resources for South Asian Cinema LibGuide. The guide covers film resources for India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. I’ve spent about four hours teaching myself how to use the LibGuide editor tools. I’ve also read several research LibgGuides by Indiana University librarians to get a sense of how the divide guides effectively. It’s important to include specific resources and where to find more resources, and indicate how to access the material. India’s most famous industry is Bollywood, and of course, there are hundreds of resources covering this industry. With South Asian film, in particular, it is important to cover all film industries and genres as evenly as possible. IU has a huge collection of resources covering Indian film industries of Bollywood and Hindi films. Therefore the goal of the guide is to highlight more sources in other fields.

Part 2 The First Subject Post

Title: New Online Resource: East India Company

In December 1600, Queen Elizabeth I granted the British East India Company a full monopoly on all trade with the East Indies and thus the East India Company quickly rose to become one of the most powerful companies in the Indian subcontinent. Under the East India Company, British rule in India continued to expand and the company commanded a private army aiding in colonizing efforts with both trade and military might. Official documents from the East India Company are now available online through the East India Company Module 1: Trade, Governance, and Empire, 1600-1947. The module includes East India Company foundational documents, royal charters, correspondence, trading diaries, minutes of council meetings, reports of expeditions, British laws relating to the company, and more. This is a great resource for those seeking primary source documents on the East India Company. 

The Module has a quick, helpful tutorial on how to navigate and use the database materials. The tutorial can be found on the main page. 

You can access East India Company Module 1: Trade Governance, and Empire, 1600-1947 here through IUCAT on or off campus with your IU login. 

Part 1 The First Subject Post

After web training, I began to write my first subject post for the South Asian Studies research guiding landing page. The IU Libraries acquired a new database, the East India Company Module 1: Trade, Governance, and Empire, 1600-1947. The module includes East India Company foundational documents, royal charters, correspondence, trading diaries, minutes of council meetings, reports of expeditions, British laws relating to the company, and more. A great resource for students needing primary source documents on the East India Company and British colonialism.

As per Anne’s suggestion, every word and sentence needed to communicate new information to the user. To keep the descriptions short I needed to know the most important elements of the database. I combed through the East India Company Module database first to familiarize myself with its contents. The vendor sent a drawing of the East India Company headquarters to attach to the database announcement. It took several tries at cropping to decide what looked best from the user’s perspective. I had to stay diligent creating captions, tags, and alternative text for disability compliance.

I broke up the subject post into broad categories of information: what is the database, contextualize its content with history, what types of materials are in the database, who is the database good for, and how to access the database. Brevity is surprisingly difficult!

How to Write a Library Subject Post

Over the summer, Anne Haines—a web content specialist at Wells Library—walked us through best practices for editing the library website. Training with Anne prepped us to write a subject post on the South Asian studies research. We’ve just acquired several new databases full of primary resources from the East India Trading Company. Librarians use subject posts for announcements and research help. It’s their main landing page for each subject. Librarians constantly communicate with users and need to draw their attention quickly, learning how to write for internet users should be part of every librarians’ training. I’m looking forward to learning more about how the library uses social media, web posts, and google analytics to build content strategies.

Some Highlights from our training:

-Put important information first.

-Keep it simple. People tend to scan pages quickly in an “F” shape.

-Make sure to tag images and categorize subject posts, it’s easier for students to find information.

-Do not waste words. Every word should tell the reader something new.

-Accessibility and the web is very important. When writing paragraphs, identify headers and sections for screen readers. Include captions for photos.

Growing Collections: Keep or Discard?

The South Asian and Southeast Asian collections at IU are still in their infancy and growing every day. A deeper interest in South Asian and Southeast Asian is newer to Indiana University, and our library collection works to reflect this shift. So collection development is a big part of our job on the 8th floor of Wells.

How to decide what books, journals, and other materials to keep? With a baby collection still searching for its core items, we’ve been buying up scores of materials from across the world this year. We keep all materials not currently held in the Wells Library Research Collection. Simple as that. Keep it all. The duplicate materials are sent off to faculty members as freebies for their department or personal collection.

After we’ve decided what to keep, how will users find the new South Asian or Southeast Asian books and materials? To decide access permissions, we look at the publisher year. We want the most current materials housed at Wells Library, and everything else is stored at the ALF ready for delivery requests. For the Benson Collection, all materials published after 1995 are available for checkout at Wells Library. Reference, law, and music monographs are the exception; we send these materials to their corresponding library or collection area.