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Partnership with University Libraries

Jul 12, 2016

In summer 2014, the book ‘200 Years of Shared Discovery: The Bicentennial of Ohio University Libraries’ was awarded a Silver CASE: Circle of Excellence award. This book, alongside a six-minute compilation video, served to recount the history of University Libraries.

UCM has a long creative partnership with University Libraries producing the Spring and Fall Gatherings publications in addition to several special collection brochures annually. These pieces are rich in beautiful photography, personal accounts and elegant design.

A UCM staffer spoke with Dean Scott Seaman, Doug Partusch, and Kate Mason from University Libraries as well as UCM's Mark Krumel to learn more.

What is the role of Gatherings among the Libraries publications?

Seaman: Gatherings goes out primarily to our annual donors, twice a year, highlighting how students are using the library, how it changes their education, and how it transforms them. We also give it out to a large variety of people, visitors, parents, faculty, and we display it in public places. We do well with Gatherings, it is fairly successful.

Partusch: We always try to highlight donors, tell their story, find out why they support the library to hopefully encourage others.

Can you tell us a little about the photography used in your print pieces?

Mason: Those are actually from graduate students at the School of VisCom. Some of them are first-year students, some of them have already done internships with newspapers and we guide them as to what type of photos we are looking for.

Partusch: We've had some interesting stories. We had a Pulitzer Prize winner working for us when they returned to graduate school. I don't think we knew that initially.

Mason: She is phenomenal. She would go downstairs and come back 15 minutes later with these amazing images!

Congratulations on the Silver CASE award! What was it like working on such a large design piece?

Seaman: Well, we didn't know it was such a large design piece when we started it! The original idea was essentially to do a longer edition of Gatherings, maybe two to three times the length. But as Kate did the research, she kept uncovering additional stories and as the students captured images it became apparent it was bigger. And I think we kind of hoodwinked Mark into this whole project!

What inspired the design?

Krumel: We have these gorgeous sycamore trees here; I've always wanted to do something with them. And one day the Dean brought out an old engraving of the early day academy they wanted to include in the commemorative logo for the bicentennial. It was this engraving that inspired me. The whole story of the University was carved out of the forest by these folks from Boston who wanted to educate people. The story is borne from these trees, trees lend themselves to paper, and paper to pages of books that this library holds. This group helped me flesh-out the idea and we started to think about rings of a tree and I incorporated this into the graphics. All that inspiration just fell together.

Seaman: This book didn't just happen though, it evolved. Kate was working on text probably two years in advance and, at the same time, there was all this communication strategy Mark was working with us on. When all this happened together, the book wasn't too much of a stretch, at least for us!

Krumel: You were all really great to work with. I think we worked on this as a partnership, this is every bit their work as it is mine.

Mason: We worked closely with the School of VisCom and the School of Journalism too who would help with the writing and editing. It was this incredible team of creative energy and minds, of both students and staff. 

With 2014 coming to a close, how has the bicentennial year been for University Libraries?

Seaman: I think it has gone really, really, well. One of the things the 200th anniversary has done is brought awareness of the library to our students. Students who come to the library do better academically, there is a direct link. Raising that awareness, telling our amazing story, I think it has been a fantastic success.

Mason: We also work with the UCM writers, compiling a series of major collaborative Compass stories. This gave a whole other perspective of Angela Woodward viewing us from the outside, she is a very insightful writer.  One of the things we are ending with, is a GoPro video focusing on the students during finals week. It is amazing the amount of people that show, there are several hundred students down there at 2am.

Partusch: People don't realize the amount of students that are in here, constantly, working collaboratively or individually. The 200th anniversary gives you the opportunity to tell the story. Now we need another reason to celebrate!

Seaman: It will all be about the renovation...

Browse the Library's Bicentennial Compass series here.