Hanging Out: preserving an ephemeral print culture in Dunedin

I’m giving a paper at the LIANZA conference in Dunedin this year about the Dunedin Student Flat Names project. Here’s the abstract:

This is a project about keeping, sharing and making stories. It’s about preserving some rather unique ephemeral artefacts but also about creating content through research and story collection to create a context for these artefacts. It’s a project that began when I was a student of MLIS by distance, while based in Dunedin, and I’m continuing with it still. In this paper I’d like to share my methods and experience as a researcher, trained as a librarian, using libraries and web 2.0 to write a book about Scarfie flats with names.

The naming student flats have been happening in the area of Dunedin North, the main residential area for students at the University of Otago, since the 1930s when flatting had its inception. Since then students have created a sense of place and stamped their identity on the frontages of their flats by naming them. The signs they have created, to display where they ‘hang out’, are an example of an ephemeral aspect of student culture in Dunedin.

The signs themselves, constructed of various media – beer boxes, old whiteboards,
head boards from beds and doors – and then decorated, have been captured
photographically over the last 10 years. Over the decades the signs display not only the proclivities or aspirations of students but also give insights into aspects of popular culture of the time.

Using Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr, Google Maps, and online survey tools I’ve connected with hundreds of students who have contributed to the collection of photos and stories related to these flats. The collections of Dunedin’s libraries have also provided many treasures to help put these pieces of ephemera into their social context.

You cana register for the conference at LIANZA 10.

Hanging Out: preserving an ephemeral print culture in Dunedin

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