Librarian Creates Exhibit to Dispel Stereotypes
Olga Hart uncovers the mystery and mayhem of “Librarians in the Stacks.”
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre
University of Cincinnati Instruction Librarian Olga Hart shares a passion with other peers in her profession – she can’t pass up a good book. In fact, she admits that her Kenwood home that she shares with husband Jim Hart, associate senior librarian for the UC College of Law Library, still has books packed downstairs because there’s not enough wall space for their growing collection. Olga Hart created a display at Langsam Library that blends her enthusiasm for both her profession and the book with the University Libraries exhibit, “Librarians in the Stacks: Books about Librarians.” Designed by former student library employee and recent UC graphic design graduate Christen McClanahan, the exhibit can be viewed in the lobby areas on the fourth and fifth floors of Langsam Library through August.
“The exhibit portrays librarians in so many different genres. There are children’s books, books for adults, mystery, fiction and poems about the library,” Hart says. She adds that while the books feature both positive and negative stories starring librarians, they’re nothing like the stern, finger-wagging, shushing, plain-looking librarians that are often stereotyped in her profession. However, she adds that some of the mysteries in the exhibit do portray librarians as “weird, scared or victims of a crime.”
The exhibit holds books from the stacks at Langsam Library, such as Biblophilia: A Novella and Stories by Michael Griffith, UC associate professor of English & Comparative Literature; In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians (Michael Cart, editor); The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (Charles Dickens) and in the mystery display, Inspector Anders and the Ship of Fools (Marchall Brown). The exhibit also features works from UC’s Curriculum Resources Center and from OhioLINK, an online library consortium which opens the collections of 85 Ohio universities and colleges to its members.
Some of the books featured in the exhibit are written by librarians, and Hart says the University Libraries massive collection holds many publications by authors who are librarians. In fact, Hart says a good number of university librarians have authored books and published articles in professional magazines and journals. “We have so many talented people,” she says, adding that the expertise of UC librarians not only includes reference and instruction but also professionals who purchase and build the collections as well as work in the Conservation and Binding Department, which restores books a little worse for wear.
Hart, a native of Russia, initially became interested in library instruction in 1992 when she became deputy director of the American Center in Moscow, a public library based on the model of American libraries. She first came to UC to study in 1994 when she was awarded a fellowship from the American Library Association’s U.S. Information Agency. Because the American Center worked with Russian Parliament, Hart says she was awarded the fellowship to study legal research at UC’s College of Law Library, where she met her future husband. Two years later, the couple married, and Olga launched her career in library instruction in 1997 at Langsam Library.
She says it’s a job that is ever-changing as advances in technology continue to advance the service mission of the libraries. “Online instruction is becoming increasingly popular and we joined the trend many years ago through a series of library tutorials,” she says. “We’re now at a point where we’re exploring how to deliver the content in new ways.”
The University Libraries Web site features a Web page about library instruction and its services for faculty and students as well as workshops and tutorials.
For Langsam Library visitors who would like to check out the exhibit on the fourth and fifth floor lobbies of Langsam Library, the library’s summer hours are
Langsam Library Summer Hours