Faculty Success with Ann Stahl: Discovering new sources in the stacks

Ann standing amongst tall grass behind Mearns library holding a framed photo
Ann Stahl holds a 2019 photo of Banda area potter Mary Yakosua (centre), who holds a 1994 photo of her mother from whom she learned potting skills.

UVic Libraries is pleased to celebrate faculty success with a series of interviews featuring researchers and their recent collaborative projects

Internationally-renowned UVic archaeologist, Ann Stahl, is working with UVic Libraries to preserve and make available her vast and irreplaceable collection of research material from the Banda region in Ghana. Her digital exhibit, Banda Through Time, contains photographs and video documenting how several Ghanaian communities negotiated change wrought by centuries of global connections, including recent electrification and the construction of a hydroelectric dam. The exhibit highlights local knowledge and ingenuity and it forms the basis for Middle School curriculum guides that will be implemented across Ghana. The photos, videos, and documents in this exhibit foster active learning about Ghanaian history and culture among Ghanaian and Canadian students alike. UVic Libraries is honoured to help Ann ensure that four decades of cultural research materials will be preserved for the ongoing use of the communities that helped produce them.

What is your favorite place in UVic Libraries and why?

The Digital Scholarship Commons and the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, with its Open Knowledge Practicum. These spaces afford free access to up-to-date equipment and software, together with a community of scholars actively working on projects that expand knowledge access through digital media.

What is your favorite LC subclass (the first two letters at the beginning of a call number range) and why?  

Several: GN (Anthropology), DT (African history) and CC (Archaeology). As a fundamentally interdisciplinary subject, archaeology requires researchers to engage with wide-ranging literature. Despite the ease of online searching, I still value browsing the stacks to discover new sources.

What is the most exciting or interesting experience that you’ve ever had in a library or archive?

In the late 1980s, I had opportunity to explore resources relating to Gold Coast colonial history in Britain’s Public Records Office (today the National Archives, Kew). Reading dispatches exchanged between London’s Colonial Office and British officials in Gold Coast Colony deepened my understanding of how British attitudes and practices conditioned what Europeans claimed to know about the region and its peoples.