Class and Library Collaborate to Make History

The Gallery @ SUNY Broome is pleased to host "Rooted in the Land: the Music of Black Americans," a project conceived and brought to life by students in MUS 113. The project began when Dr. Julia O'Connell approached the Library with a new final project idea for her MUS 113 course, From Spirituals to Hip Hop: American Music of the African Diaspora: 

I'm thinking about having the students collaborate on some kind of exhibit on Black music history. What objects would they include and why? What story would their objects tell, and how would their objects shape a coherent narrative about Black music and history?

The project was to involve students collaborating with a librarian on research, and using the Library's Gallery to host the exhibition. As it evolved, librarians and library staff became involved to help with design, production and copyright issues. The class met with a group of Library personnel who outlined the various ways they could assist with the project. Gallery curator Robin Valashinas contributed her expertise in helping the class organize and mount the exhibit, and several librarians offered technical, research and reference support.

One of the ways the Library supported this project was through a course guide, MUS 113 Course Exhibit Project (for O'Connell) Fall 2021. Dana Curtin, library liaison to the Liberal Arts division, built this multipage collection of resources for the class. Course guides like this help students to navigate the many resources available through the Library.

Since this is a public exhibit, the class had the opportunity to gain some practical experience with copyright issues concerning music, images and public performance. Librarian Paul Bond provided consultation on these issues and shared information on Creative Commons licensing and the public domain. 

The class was able to take advantage of the Library’s poster printer to enlarge some historical documents for the exhibit. The printer is capable of producing large format (36” wide by whatever length) color images for class projects. Access Services librarian Erin Wilburn offered advice on the design and production of handouts and posters. Noah Roth, library liaison to History, also assisted with printing, as well as offering reference and research support. 

The project gave the class many other valuable experiences in collaboration, cooperation, adaptability and accountability. It also serves as an example of what can be accomplished when classes avail themselves of the many resources and services that the Library provides. 

"Rooted in the Land: the Music of Black Americans" will be on display in the Gallery @ SUNY Broome through February. Please stop by to see what Dr. O’Connell’s students have put together.