Archive for February, 2020

Friday, February 28th, 2020

TinyCat’s February Library of the Month: the Asia Art Archive in America

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat’s February Library of the Month, the Asia Art Archive in America (AAA-A), is doing great work supporting contemporary art from and of Asia.

AAA-A’s Manager and Program Coordinator Hilary Chassé discussed more with my questions this month:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

Asia Art Archive in America (AAA in A) is an independently established and operated nonprofit program space and reading room based in Brooklyn, NY and is the first overseas mini hub of Asia Art Archive (AAA) in Hong Kong. AAA’s mission is to collect, preserve, and make information on contemporary art from and of Asia easily accessible in order to facilitate understanding, research and writing in the field. AAA in A strives to be proactive in instigating dialogue and critical thinking by both making our research collection more accessible to a U.S.-based audience and also through a series of regular educational programs. By doing so we hope to raise awareness of and support for the activities of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

Besides making our reading room and digital archive collection available freely and open to the public five days a week, we also host a twice-monthly public program series, which includes artist talks, screenings, seminars, and workshops. So far in 2020 we’ve hosted a local artist book maker to lead a book-binding workshop, presented a performance-lecture by two Vietnamese-American artists on diaspora, refugees, and identity, and had one of our recent research grantees present her project examining the impact of photography and other images from the Cultural Revolution in China. Coming up, we’ll be hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on women in art in Asia on International Women’s Day and will be hosting a zine-making workshop later this spring with the Australian zine publisher Red Pocket Press. We hope that by offering these programs we not only engage and educate our community in New York, but also help activate the materials in our collection and provide a platform for the artists, curators, and scholars whose work we admire and informs our own collection priorities.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

It’s very tough to choose but here are three books that I love and that I also think are a good illustration of the range of materials in our collection:

  • The Speech Writer by Pakistani video artist Bani Abidi: This artist book was published by the Sri Lankan press Raking Leaves in 2012. It tells the story of a fictional “documentary” presented in the form of ten photo flip books, which are then neatly housed in order in a slipcase. I think this book used a very clever method of taking the artist’s usual medium of film and rendering it into book form, and the publisher behind Raking Leaves, Sharmini Pereira, is extremely thoughtful and meticulous in her designs and execution of the books she collaborates with artists on.
  • South Vietnam: Land and People, Part I-III (pictured right): This 1967 book series, which features sketches and watercolors of everyday life and political propaganda scenes produced by North Vietnamese artists, is one of the oldest books in our collection. It came to us as part of a larger donation of rare catalogs and monographs from Vietnam in the mid-to late 20th century, donated by an American art historian and curator who spent many years in Southeast Asia. Socialist Realist Art was quite prominent in the last century in Asia, but has been consistently understudied and misunderstood in the West and we hope that by collecting materials such as these we can help spark more scholarly interest in the subject.
  • The Way of Chopsticks III by Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen: This exhibition catalog is the culmination of three joint exhibitions by the Chinese performance and video artists (and married couple) Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen, who, although they have very distinguished independent careers, have collaborated frequently on works inspired by chopsticks, exploring the fact that two are required to function properly as symbols of their personal and professional relationship. The dual ring binders of the catalog, one devoted to Song Dong and the other to Yin Xiuzhen, allow the reader to simultaneously study the development of this theme in their work from 2001 to 2011. I love this catalog not only because these are two of my favorite artists, but also because it’s form so neatly mirrors it’s content, and shows that even if a book isn’t conceived as an “artist book”, it can still be experimental with the form to create a unique object.

Fascinating! I love the concept and execution of Dong’s and Xiuzhen’s art. I’ll have to check them out.

You mentioned the Socialist Realist Art movement not being properly understood in the West, with your hopes to shed further light on the subject. What’s a challenge you experience, particularly, as a small library?

Our reading room collection is not only small (containing around ~3,800 books, periodicals, and A/V materials) but we also have a fairly small space to house it in, so balancing growing our collection with the constraints of shelving/storing what we already have safely and accessibly is a constant challenge. In addition to responding to researcher’s needs in our decisions for what to accession, we do our best to be rigorous about only accepting donations that meet our specific subject criteria. It’s often hard to turn away some amazing material that we might personally find interesting and worthy of being preserved, but we have to be responsible and realistic about what we can handle. When we can’t accept a donation though we always do our best to use our network to find homes at other libraries/institutions so it still is made available to as wide a public as possible.

That’s a valuable service you provide. When using TinyCat to manage such a library, what’s your favorite thing about it? What’s something you’d love to see implemented?

We love the streamlined design and very user-friendly search function on TinyCat, it’s made sharing our catalog with our researchers much simpler and has also empowered them to search our collection on their own before they arrive in the reading room so they can request specific materials they’re interested and then get started with working right away! Making our materials as accessible as possible is one of our main priorities and TinyCat has helped us achieve that enormously since we adopted it a little over three years ago.

In terms of improvements, the actual platform itself is pretty perfect and isn’t lacking anything major that we’re looking for in terms of cataloging or searching functionality, so the only thing on our wishlist is if there would be a simple way of embedding the TinyCat catalog homepage, or at least the search function, directly into our website through a plug-in instead of only through iframe coding, which is a bit beyond our small team’s capacity at the moment.

We have a basic Search widget you can add to your website! Find the coding on our Help page here.

Want to learn more about the Asia Art Archive in America? Follow them on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, and YouTube), visit their website here, and check out their collection on TinyCat.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

February Early Reviewers batch is live!

Win free books from the February 2020 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 105 books this month, and a grand total of 3,487 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, February 24th at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Zimbell House Publishing Unsolicited Press Black Rose Writing
William Morrow Flyaway Books Petra Books
Consortium Book Sales and Distribution Candlewick Press John Ott
Book Publicity Services Akashic Books Tundra Books
Puffin Books Canada Plough Publishing House Books by Elle, Inc
Red Adept Publishing City Owl Press Tantor Media
HighBridge Audio Literary Wanderlust LLC Aspen Press
Science, Naturally! Orca Book Publishers Shadow Dragon Press
Poolbeg Press Westminster John Knox Press Three Rooms Press
Meerkat Press CarTech Books Best Day Books For Young Readers
Lingo Mastery Circling Rivers Chicago Review Press
BHC Press Month9Books Revell
Entrada Publishing TarcherPerigree Odyssey Books
ClydeBank Media Metaphorosis Magazine Prodigy Gold Books
NewCon Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER