“Of course, no one is suggesting that digital images of membrane pages should or can replace physical books as objects of study and teaching, and it must be noted that digitization projects, as they crack open manuscripts that may not have been examined carefully in many years, have led to immediate and significant discoveries on the ground. The point is that the digitization of the parchment inheritance yields (or at least has the potential to yield) a fundamentally different kind of information than that afforded by extended immersion in a much smaller number of manuscripts.  This is one of the principles of digital humanities, of course: that the computerized transformation and geometric expansion of the world’s archives invites new sorts of questions tied intimately to the modes of preservation, enhancement, indexing, and so on that capture the objects of digitization. Given the speed with which so much information (textual, visual, codicological, palaeographical, etc.) has become so widely available in such a short amount of time to such a broad array of users, it’s worth asking hard questions about the implications of this and similar transformations of our collective archive for the field as a whole.” Bruce Holsinger in, “Medieval Studies in the Age of Big Data: A Serial Forum”

One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with in the field of special collections and rare books is balancing this idea of fascination and practicality. Fascination, more like fetishism, of rare books and manuscripts. I promoted this notion with undergraduate students especially with primary source instruction to deconstruct a “fantasy” surrounding Medieval manuscripts. This is where digital tools come in.

Not having extensive knowledge of codicology, but with 13 years working in a special collections library, I felt it was necessary to seek out the experts in this matter! Rare Book School, Philadelphia offers for the second year, a course titled “The Medieval Manuscript in the Twenty-First Century (M-95)” and taught with arresting charm and intellect by Dot Porter and Will Noel.  This course, designed for a diverse selection of book scholars, Medievalist faculty, and librarians, considers (among many things) “the relationship between medieval manuscripts and their digital counterparts, and questioning the notion of digital surrogacy.” Over the past few weeks since the course, I’ve contemplated the real power of scholarship and working with primary sources comes from open access and developing new models of instruction.  I even got my hands dirty!

Let me introduce to you my wild little manuscript from the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania Libraries: LJS 449: Medical and astronomical miscellany

I’ll admit, again, I didn’t have an extensive background in paleography OR codicology…until this course, which is interesting because, this course doesn’t focus on that level of learned knowledge.  This course to me is more about taking cues from investigative observation. The Sherlock Holmes method of deduction.  To make decisions based on creative and intrepid speculation.  No right or wrong, just be thoughtful.

This manuscript was written in Germany, ca. 1446, in Latin and German, and it is a compilation of Latin and German texts concerning astronomy, astrology (including resources for the determination of favorable and unfavorable days and a brief treatise on the astrological properties of precious stones attributed in the manuscript to the 8th/9th-century Jewish astrologer Zaël, but also known as the lapidary of Techel), and medicine (including a brief treatise on wine used for medical purposes, attributed in another manuscript to Albertus Magnus). (From the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies website)

Knowing what I know about “medical” and “magical” manuscripts, I quickly learned from our instructor’s sharp and discernible eye, this particular manuscript could have been a workbook gathering signatures from various treatises in common medical guild style fashion.  Rebound in a ‘modern’ binding, the original quires were quite possibly created separately and bound in the 15th century, to be rebound and sold in the 19th century.  Serendipitous, but mysterious bookselling technique, in my opinion. Ironically, though, that is what makes this manuscript superb is the diversity of content, the frivolous script, and the wear and tear of the dingy cotton paper. Both a visceral charm for the eye, but a olfactory trigger.  Everyday this manuscript left with me, a scent of eager and dutiful scribes who belabored over this contemplative work.

The culmination of our work, included a presentation and sharing of our thoughts and opinions about our individual manuscripts. I chose to use the Scalar interface, a user-friendly visual open source data tool for sharing media and other digital presentations. Librarians and digital humanities folks take note, as this tool is an option to replace some of the clunkiness and learning curve of Omeka!!! Here are some of my thoughts, in brief and spontaneous form.

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New exhibit at San Diego State University Special Collections & University Archives!

Peoples Temple at Jonestown: Interpretations of Jonestown in Art, Photography, Sound, Film, and Words is currently on display in the Louis Kenney Reading Room of Special Collections.

Highlighting these various works shows how the Peoples Temple movement of the 1960s and ’70s and the Jonestown tragedy that ended it have informed and influenced artists working in a variety of media to interpret the events. The exhibit seeks to show that the Jonestown tragedy has been interpreted and perceived by artists and others in ways far different than has so often been portrayed in the media. The exhibit also focuses on the kinds of artistic works that use Jonestown as the point of departure for explorations that extend beyond the events themselves.

Works on display in the exhibit come from the Peoples Temple Collection in Special Collections, the collections of the Jonestown Institute in San Diego, and the collection of Jonestown survivor Laura Johnston Kohl.  Read more at:

02-jonestown-exhibit-2014-15_0078 03-jonestown-exhibit-2014-15_0007 04-N-Sines-SF-Painting 05-jonestown-exhibit-2014-15_0085 06-jonestown-exhibit-2014-15_0068 09-jonestown-exhibit-2014-15_0042 14-jonestown-exhibit-2014-15_0023 19-jonestown-exhibit-2014-15_0056 21-audio_tapes

Big Post! So like last year, another call out for donations for the ALA Annual Conference Zine Pavilion! Some of our zine raffle winners from last year: http://zinepavilion.tumblr.com/post/104768352132/wyndham-robertson-library-hollis-university. We owe everything to zine makers and zine creators, please consider donating to the Zine Pavilion for SF 2015! http://zinepavilion.tumblr.com/post/104767831982/updated-the-zine-pavilion-crew-is-accepting

Send zines to:

CSC Library, ATTN: Library Vixen

2261 Market Street, Box 455-A

San Francisco, CA 94114

We will accept zine donations until the beginning of June 2015, so plenty of time to get a new issue done!


If you’re in Chicago on Friday January 30th, 2015, you’ll want to attend this fun, informative event coordinated with the 2015 American Library Association Midwinter conference:

Thinking about Organizing a Zine or Comics Event?

Join fellow librarians and zine enthusiasts at the legendary Quimby’s Bookstore to discuss running a successful zine or comics event – whether it’s a one-hour DIY workshop for teens or a festival with thousands of attendees. Librarians, zinesters, and comics makers will share stories and tips about developing community through events, and then open the floor to your questions.

After the event (and time for browsing) we’ll head around the corner to Dimo’s for pizza.

This event is free and open to the public–we encourage anyone interested who loves zines or libraries to attend!

When: Friday January 30th, 2015, 7 pm

Where: Quimby’s Bookstore, 854 W North Ave, Chicago IL  60622 (near the Damen blue line L stop)

(We’ll be meeting up downtown at the Clark & Lake blue line L stop at 6:30 pm if you’d like to travel to Quimby’s in a group. 124 W. Lake St, inside the revolving doors but before the turnstiles.)

Please contact violetfox at gmail dot com with any questions. Hope to see you there!


Art Show this Saturday, October 11th at Remington Tattoo and Art Gallery! @remingtontattoo #ouija #board #artshow.  Be there for free drinks and art for sale! 3436 30th st. San Diego 92104


Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book, 2014

Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book, 2014

SDSU Special Collections & University Archives is proud to unveil our new team-curated exhibit, “Spirit Lab: New Religious Thought in the Golden State.” Our primary goals with this exhibit are: to provide an introduction to interesting alternative religious thought from the past century or so in California, as supported by our collections; and to support SDSU’s strategic goal of embracing diversity by fostering the growth and understanding of religious tolerance.
“California’s cultural heritage is as rich and varied as the racial and ethnic backgrounds that comprise the state’s overall population. Of course, all of the largest religious denominations are well represented, but California is also a unique hotspot for offbeat and alternative religious thought. As Erik Davis, author of The Visionary State, writes, “California [serves] as a laboratory of the spirit, a sacred playground at the far margins of the West.” All walks of life are invited to explore some of California’s most unique religious thought as represented by selections from the Alternative Religious Movements Collection in SDSU Library’s Special Collections & University Archives. The collection documents the vast spiritual landscape that an ever-curious humanity is continually building in search of the meaning of it all, thanks in large part to significant gifts by Rebecca Moore, Hugh Hyde, J. Gordon Melton and Edward E. Marsh.
J. Gordon Melton, renowned scholar and founding director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, will give the opening lecture, “New Religions and the California Dream,” on October 22nd, 2014 at 2 p.m. in Love Library room 108. Additional programming events will be announced at a future date.
Special thanks to the College of Arts and Letters, the Department of Religious Studies, Rebecca Moore, Fielding McGehee, Edward E. Marsh, and Dean Gale Etschmaier.”
See the exhibit!

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I’ve been a little quiet over the past few months.  Busy with instruction and an exhibit. More on that later.  In the meantime, I’m headed to the Esoteric Book Conference, where I’m one of the featured artists, as part of a group of eccentric scholars.


Two paintings especially for the event.  Additionally, I’ll have prints of two other works, as well as a few postcards.


Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd

Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd

Black Books of Elverum

Black Books of Elverum



Zine Pavilion Zines, ALA 2014

Zine Pavilion Zines, ALA 2014

Zine Pavilion Zines, ALA 2014

Zine Pavilion Zines, ALA 2014

New blog post at San Diego State Special Collections & University Archives: http://library.sdsu.edu/scua/new-notable/lifting-veil-abolishing-censorship-vatican.

The Vatican kept a list of forbidden books?!!!!  Yes, they did!  However, this past week in history on June 14th, 1966, the Catholic Church lifted the final restriction on banned books from the Index Librorum Prohibitorum or the “List of Prohibited Books.”

The Index, as it is informally known, was a list of publications the Catholic Church deemed as either heretical, anti-clerical or immoral, and subsequently banned.  The first version was published in 1559, under Pope John IV.  The 20th and final edition appeared in 1948, and the Index was formally abolished on June 14, 1966 by Pope Paul VI.  The list was designed to prevent faithful followers of the Catholic Church and its constituents from reading material bent on questioning or challenging Catholic ethics or morality, as determined by the Holy See.

San Diego State’s Special Collections is fortunate to house two editions of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum: the 1758 edition, nearing the end of Pope Benedict XIV’s pontification, and the 1835 edition under Pope Gregory XVI.  By 1948, the list contained over 5,000 titles, many of which included single works of authors and in some cases, an entire bibliography of a single author.  Many fundamental astronomy books, including the work of Galileo, Kepler, and Copernicus were originally included on the list immediately after publication, although later lifted.  Special Collections also holds the Historic Astronomy Collection which includes the works of Galileo and Copernicus, originally banned for their defense and theories about “heliocentrism” or the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around the Sun at the center of the Solar System.  The idea of heliocentrism, at the time, was not supported by the Church.

Other authors within SCUA’s collection found in the Index, include the controversial religious scholar and Catholic priest, Martin Luther, a sermon from 1520, basically refusing to redact his writings, Victor Hugo’s radical working class and anti-authoritarian views in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1836 edition, and Madame Staël’s proto-feminist, Romantic political views in Delphine and Corinne.

A complete list of banned authors and books listed in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, 1948 is found here: http://www.cvm.qc.ca/gconti/905/BABEL/Index%20Librorum%20Prohibitorum-1948.htm

Curated by Iris Bechtol and Josh Rose, No Restraint: Activist Zines and Comics focuses on the social, political, and cultural issues addressed in comics and zines. Though inherently independent and residing near the edge of society, zines and indie comics have the power to inform, influence, and perhaps change our perceptions. Their subject matter, whether fantastic narratives, autobiographical accounts, partially fictitious, or resounding socio-political statements, zines and indie comics are a unique voice that is often more real than mainstream media. Ranging from activist literature to autobiographical explorations, this exhibition includes original drawings, comics, and zines by Marta Chudolinska (Babica), Gord Hill (The 500 Years of Resistance), Nia King, Kate Lavut (Chico), Noah Lyon (America the Conspiracy), Stephanie McMillan (Minimum Security), Margarat Nee (Grrrl Zines a Go Go), Simon Orpana (The Art of Gentrification), Kim Schwenk (Grrrl Zines a Go Go), Elizabeth Simins (Manic Pixel Dream Girl), Sarah Welch (Endless Monsoon), Lisa Wilde (Yo, Miss), and select works from the Zine Project Seattle.


Eastfield College is a community college of the Dallas County Community College District, located in Mesquite, Texas



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