Rutgers University: Librarians Create Digital Portal of International Posters That Trace the History of Women’s Activism

Posted on March 26, 2012 by


From a Rutgers U. News Release:

What was once a loose collection of 300 rolled-up and yellowing posters in an office of Rutgers’ Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) is now an award-winning digital portal offering insight into decades of women’s activism throughout the world.

The vibrantly colored posters, newly available through RUCore, a Rutgers-based online repository of intellectual property, come from as far away as Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, and Peru. They cry out against violence directed at women, denial of human rights, and the lack of equal opportunities women encounter in their personal and professional lives.

Among the Rutgers collection is this poster, issued in 1998 by the European Parliament. The words say “A flower for the women of Kabul.”

“The collection is very compelling,” says Kayo Denda, head of the Margery Somers Foster Center and women’s studies librarian with the Rutgers University Libraries. “I’m impressed by the diversity and the power of the visual images.”

Denda headed a team of librarians that shouldered the seemingly overwhelming task of transferring the posters from paper to computer screen. The initiative, which took more than three years and included input from more than 60 women’s rights organizations, has won national acclaim.

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The idea to digitize the images and their messages came from Denda, who was struck by the posters’ ephemeral nature, their status similar to “fugitive literature,” as she puts it. And she was determined to make the images as broadly available as possible.

“I was worried about deterioration – in general, posters aren’t printed on very high-quality paper,” the librarian notes. “I think women have traditionally turned to posters as a strategy to make a large impact with small amounts of money.”

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Every poster entry features the name of the issuing organization, the artist (where available), and a brief description of the slogans and text. Denda hopes researchers and academics on and off campus will turn to the portal as a visual resource.

Direct to Database (via RUcore)

 

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