The Barbara Stahl Collection’s fascinating journey within the Indiana State Library

We’re often asked, “What happens when materials make their way to Indiana State Library?” In this post, we’ll explore a collection’s journey with a recent acquisition from local artist, Barbara Stahl. The Barbara Stahl collection includes the first abstract work by a female artist to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division.

Barbara contacted the division in September 2016 after she learned about the library’s services through a friend. At the time, WISH-TV published an article about her work in downtown Indianapolis with the Indiana Pacers. For those of you who might not know, Barbara is the artist and owner behind Stahl Studios Inc., specializing in commercial and public art in Indianapolis and the surrounding area.

In October 2016, staff met with Barbara about the possibility of displaying her artwork at the Indiana State Library. A short time later, we made a site visit to Stahl Studios and discussed her career as well as the process behind creating her new series of large-scale oil paintings titled “Skybridge.” The paintings are a release from her earlier, more chaotic works; a metaphor for reaching one’s higher self.

The exhibit was well-received and led the Indiana State Library Foundation to purchase “Consciousness Rising,” one of six paintings from the series. Notably, this was the first purchase of abstract work created by a female artist for the permanent collection. Stahl mentions “Being included in this prestigious collection is very special and something I am extremely proud of.”

Further conversation led to the acquisition of her drawings, photographic prints and personal papers to the division. At this time, Barbara’s collection includes over four cubic feet of material. Rare Books and Manuscripts staff have thoroughly enjoyed working with her on the project – an opportunity she describes as “creating her legacy.”

The collection items are carefully looked over during the accessioning process. An inventory and record is created with temporary housing selected for the library’s secure, temperature and humidity controlled vault. The conservator creates special housing to ensure the longevity of her complex formats, particularly wax on wood panels and mud paintings completed in Belize.

Simultaneously, staff begin processing and creating the finding aid for Barbara’s collection. The finding aid or guide is a detailed record providing an intellectual overview of the collection as well as a detailed list of its items. Once the finding aid is complete, we add it to the online public access catalog, Evergreen, our Finding Aid Index and digitize the items for our digital repository, the Indiana State Library Digital Collections. These services provide top-notch accessibility to Barbara’s collection in our library and around the world.

Patrons can stop by the second floor of the library during regular business hours to see the Barbara Stahl collection in-person. As a bonus, the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division is now open until 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings for research needs. Not only will you love seeing her work up close, you’ll also enjoy sitting in the beautiful, 1930s art deco inspired reading room.

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Recent acquisition: Local abstract art and papers of Barbara Stahl

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Division recently acquired a collection of drawings, photographic prints and personal papers from notable Indianapolis artist, Barbara Stahl. The collection will continue to grow and be available for public viewing after processing is complete.

Barbara Stahl portrait, 2000

A native of Vincennes, Indiana, Stahl moved to Indianapolis in 1992 after receiving her MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania. Stahl is the founder and owner of Stahl Studios Inc., which specializes in commercial and public art. She is well-known for her Indiana Pacers schedule wall near Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the commemorative Super Bowl XLVI art project “Morning Magnolias” mural along the White River Canal.

Barbara Stahl, Morning Magnolias mural, 2012 Image Source: http://magazine.iupui.edu/12Spring/impact/46forXLVI.shtml

The Barbara Stahl collection is the first donation of abstract work by a female artist to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division. It comprises over four cubic feet of material, including clippings, photographs, undergraduate artwork slides, wax paintings on wood panels, screen and intaglio prints, charcoal drawings and mud paintings completed in Belize. Her 2014-2015 “Tiny III” artwork is pictured below.

The Indiana State Library Foundation recently purchased “Consciousness Rising,” a large-scale oil painting from her 2017 “Skybridge” series. The painting is on permanent display at the library and can be viewed during regular business hours.

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Meet Susan Knight, new director at the Franklin County Public Library District

I recently sat down with Franklin County Public Library District’s new director, Susan Knight. Susan’s first day in the library was Jan, 2, 2017. She comes from a school background, spending the last 12 years as a media specialist in the Greensburg school system.

Susan Knight, new director at the Franklin County Public Library District

The library has some exciting plans on the horizon. They break ground for an expansion in April that will double the size of the building. The project is expected to take about a year, will expand their heavily used genealogy section and create a meeting space for the community.

The library as an extensive collection of art, which is displayed around the building

When I visited, I just missed National Pie Day. This is an annual event celebrated at the library with many pie themed activities for all ages and pie is served when the library opens until all the pie runs out. This year they served 688 pieces of pie!

The library has a die-cut machine available to the public

I had a few questions for Susan:

What is your favorite thing about working in libraries?
Meeting people and serving the community.

What’s one thing coming up at your library that you’re really excited about?
I was looking forward to Pie Day, which just happened. Also, the library expansion. That’s a big one.

What are you currently reading?
Board minute packets, the Indiana State Library website and the new director packet.

To learn more about the Franklin County Public Library District, you can visit their website here.

This blog post is by Courtney Allison, professional development librarian. For more information, contact the Professional Development Office at (317) 232-3697 or email statewideservices@library.in.gov