You’ll be happy to find out that my new job will occasionally still involve exhibit projects! Just this month I was able to help the wonderful Biosciences Librarian, Kelli Trei, create and install an exhibit in the Main Library about the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). The BHL is a fabulous group of libraries that have come together to digitize the legacy literature of biodiversity held within their collections. Everything they make available is open access and public domain and some of the materials are very rare! The University of Illinois is a contributing member of the BHL.
Kelli and I wanted the exhibit to increase awareness of the BHL and our university’s connection to it. But how do you create a physical exhibit about a digital resource? We ended up getting pretty creative with text panels, scanned images, and physical copies of books that the university has scanned for the project. The exhibit is in the Marshall Gallery of the Main Library, so hopefully it will increase the profile of the BHL, as hundreds of people come in and out of the Main Library every day!
It was definitely a challenge to create an exhibit in a new environment. I became very comfortable with the small, flat display case at the Funk ACES Library; I was also accustomed to having the time and materials to plan and lay out my exhibits in a staging area days before I actually put it up. At the Main Library you have a scheduled exhibit installation day during which you assemble, install, and photograph your exhibit. It was definitely a whirlwind, but we did manage to pull it off (before lunchtime!). In addition to the shortened timeline we also had to contend with the Marshall Gallery exhibit space: two rectangular boxes that are waist-to-head height. We really had to utilize the vertical space and create different levels using risers. It was an interesting challenge! The exhibit is up through September 30th, so if you’re in Champaign-Urbana come check it out!