Way to Wayzgoose! | An Interview with Sarah Allison
By: Dakota Savage
Sarah Allison is the Head of Archives User Engagement in the Archives and Special Collections Department at the Ball State University Libraries. There she manages the preservation and accessing of the university’s collections through many different outlets. She spend the majority of her time in Bracken overseeing all the public service points of the archive, including reference, outreach, and instruction, along with other behind the scene duties like collection management and development. Sarah tells me that some of the most rewarding experiences she has had while working in the Ball State archives have been connecting students with rare books and artifacts that they never would have thought to find on campus for use with their cousework.
Originally from California, Sarah came to Muncie from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She earned an undergraduate degree in Art History before pursuing a Masters in Library and Information Science. Family and an interest in applying her expertise to discovering archived works regarding the rich history of the Teacher’s College at Ball State University brought her into the Muncie community. Her experience, including having taken two classes at the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, demonstrates how she will bring unique and valuable insights to this year’s Interrobang.
This year’s event will be Sarah’s first Interrobang Wayzgoose festival, but it won’t be her first time in MadJax to visit the Book Arts Collaborative’s shop. Her passion for the printed book and its history was more than satisfied by seeing some of the impressive presses that are preserved and used in the shop. She has been to our First Thursday events and purchased our hand-crafted books and printed items to give to her friends and family back in California—meaning our student-made books cross the country through more inventive ways than just being purchased through our online shop!
At Interrobang Sarah plans to speak mostly on the various broadsides, or strongly worded critical attacks printed on one side of a single sheet of paper, featured in the archive’s collection. One of the most famous broadsides was an adaptation of the Declaration of Independence published by John Durham which highlighted criticisms of the British government. As this example shows, broadsides are crucial to understanding how the layman digested some of the most turbulent, progressive periods since the printing press was popularized by Gutenberg. Additionally, Sarah has hinted that she may feature in her discussion at the festival some of the artists’ books in Ball State collection. Artist’s books are, simply put, any piece of art that take the form of a traditional book. For example, a simple artist’s book could be a pop-out book showing different popular chair designs throughout the 20th century, which is something we have in the shop at Madjax and will be accessible to the public during the festival as well. In fact, one class at the Book Arts Collaborative this semester is an Honor’s Colloquium titled Artist’s Book Publishing wherein students work to develop the skills necessary to publish an artist’s book made by a member of the local community after developing their own personal artist’s book projects.
The artist’s book being created this semester by the Book Arts Collaborative will be Defunct by Kelcey Parker Evrick. Kelcey has published short stories, comics, novellas, essays, and collages professionally. Her works have been distinguished with awards and nominations, such as her 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award in Short Fiction. We are lucky to have her work with our team at MadJax to publish an exciting new artist’s book. Defunct is inspired by all things defunct and retired from use by our society, and will include Kelcey’s watercolor paintings accompanied by her passages, poems, and essays that portray her family history.
This piece was written by a Ball State University student and member of the Book Arts Collaborative in Muncie, Indiana. The Book Arts Collaborative is dedicated to preserving and promoting the apprentice-taught skills of letterpress printing and book binding through community interaction. It's not just what we make that matters, but how we learn from one another to make it happen.