The book “The Paste Papers of Louise Lawrence Foster” will be on display. This book was produced by Frank Brannon/Speak Easy Press (MFA 2004) and features the decorative papers of Lary Lou Foster (MFA 2001) with text by Cathleen Baker (MFA 2000).
Dr. Mark Nelson, Dean of The University of Alabama (UA) College of Communication and Information Sciences, has announced the appointment of Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo as interim director of the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS). Dr. Naidoo will be stepping into this administrative role as Dr. Jim Elmborg returns to the faculty before retiring at the end of the academic year.
“Dr. Elmborg was the exact right person at the right time to lead our School of Library and Information Studies,” said Nelson. “His thoughtful and deliberative style along with his commitment to transparency and integrity helped us to navigate changes and prepared us for a new level of collaboration within our college.”
Dr. Naidoo will begin his role as interim SLIS director on October 1, 2021. “I’m excited to continue the work Dr. Elmborg has started and serve alongside my colleagues as we expand and strengthen SLIS’s programs in archives, book arts, information science, and library studies,” said Naidoo.
Dr. Naidoo earned his Ph.D. in information science and MLIS degree from the University of Alabama SLIS program prior to working as an assistant professor at The University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science. He returned to UA SLIS in 2008 where he’s been serving as the Foster EBSCO professor, teaching courses in library services to diverse populations, youth programming, and children’s and young adult materials and services. Dr. Naidoo has also worked in both school and public libraries in Alabama.
His research agenda centers on the representation of LGBTQIA+ and Latinx populations in children’s materials as well as public and school library services to LGBTQ+ children and/or families. Dr. Naidoo has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and books on these topics, in addition to presenting his work at national and international conferences. In 2016, he received the American Library Association’s Achievement in Library Diversity Research for his work. Dr. Naidoo is also the past president of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and board member of the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY).
In 2021, Dr. Naidoo received the University of Alabama Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort for his Book Bonanza for the Black Belt and Beyond program which he started in 2009. The program donates new children’s and teen books to school libraries in economically disadvantaged areas of Alabama.
A national search for the new school director will launch in fall 2022. Founded in 1972, SLIS currently offers graduate degree and certificate programs in book arts and library and information studies. Our Master of Library and Information Studies degree is accredited by the American Library Association. For more information about UA SLIS, visit https://slis.ua.edu/.
We are delighted to feature another wonderful alumna from UA SLIS this month: Allison Milham. She graduated in 2012 with an MFA in Book Arts. She is currently a visiting instructor in the Book Arts department during Professor Embree’s sabbatical.
Allison is currently teaching two courses – one in bookbinding and one in letterpress printing. “Previously, I’ve taught book arts at Colorado College, The University of Utah and Florida State University. I’m really enjoying working with the graduate students here in SLIS and getting to spend time in these great studios again! In the summer of next year, I’ll return to Colorado College to teach a book arts course at a guest instructor. I’m also currently in massage school and plan to start working in that field next year as well.”
We are now at the year and a half mark since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and people of all ages and occupations are still feeling its effects on their lives. “COVID-19 has shifted things for me as an artist and educator and has—as is the case for all of us—forced me to be much more flexible and more adaptable with how I approach work and other responsibilities I have in my life. Several commitments (teaching, artist residencies, etc.) were canceled and/or pushed back due to the pandemic, including my coming here to UA. I’ve been lucky to have had a fairly steady flow of commission work throughout the pandemic including printing and binding freelance gigs that have helped keep me afloat.”
Allison said if she could come back to UA to take any one class, she would love to take Professor Kyle Holland’s Contemporary Papermaking course. “I learned papermaking with Steve Miller when I was in the program and just fell in love. In the class I took with Steve, we were primarily focused on pulling consistent, beautifully formed sheets to be used for printing and binding applications. But I love the idea of papermaking as an art form in and of itself. I’ve been seeing some of the work students are making in Kyle’s class this semester and there’s some stunning pigmenting and pulp painting going on!”
Allison’s advice for current and prospective students is mostly directed towards those who a pursuing, or are interested in, the MFA or Certificate in Book Arts program, “It’s a good idea to think hard and creatively about how you will use your degree and skills to support yourself in the future. The Book Arts is a very small field, which, on the one hand is wonderful because it means we have a very tight-knit community and it’s relatively easy to connect with folks. But on the other hand, there just aren’t that many opportunities for steady employment. I think many students have hopes to go into teaching following their MFA, but the reality is that teaching opportunities are limited, especially full-time/tenure positions. The good news in there are many other avenues and ways to plug in with the unique and advanced skillset we gain through this program. There are positions in book conservation, in community arts outreach, and lots of possibilities for getting your own business going in job printing, small press publishing, book binding and repair work, graphic design, etc.”
“It’s a really good idea if you’re wanting to be self-employed to take business classes and learn all you can about how to be successful in marketing, sales, and all the things that tend to be a challenge for us artists! I also encourage students to get creative about how they might make a living. It’s possible to do a number of things to make it work. I have a friend who is a letterpress printer. Part of the year he makes prints and teaches, and then the other part of the year he drives a commercial boat, and that’s how he’s able to get by. I know folks who wait tables or do other side jobs in-between work in the arts and education. It’s a tough time right now, but there are lots of ways to make it work—you just have to be flexible and creative. I think above all, it’s important to be clear about what you desire for yourself in this life and what unique gifts you have to offer to the world. Then try your best to figure out how to make it work from there.”
We thank Allison for giving us the time to learn more about her and the work she is doing. We can’t wait to see where your Book Arts journey takes you!
Dr. Cathleen Baker is the 2021 recipient of the School of Library and Information Studies Book Arts Alumnus of the Year. Dr. Baker graduated in 2000 with a Master of Fine Arts in Book Arts. In 2016 she retired from University of Michigan Library, Conservation Department, where she was a designated Conservation Librarian Emerita. Currently, she is the proprietor of The Legacy Press (1997–present) where she serves as editor/copy editor, designer, and overall supervisor of activities related to The Legacy Press. “I cannot say the pandemic has affected my publishing, though it did change how I shipped orders for much of April through June 2020 when sales also dropped precipitously,” Dr. Baker explained. If allowed to come back to UA and take any class, Dr. Baker said she would retake letterpress printing on the handpress to acquire more experience and though understanding of the processes. Her words of advice for current and prospective students are “Set your expectations high, beyond what you think you can learn and do.”
Dr. Baker was celebrated on campus during Honors Week and was a featured speaker at the SLIS Honors Day virtual recognition on April 9. Thank you, Dr. Baker, for your contributions to the field of book arts!