Winning exhibit features recipes from across the globe

MSLIS students Yung-hui Chou, Alice Tierney-Fife, and Elizabeth Workman are the winners of this year’s Graduate Student Exhibit Contest, sponsored by the University of Illinois Library. Their exhibit, "Culture and Cuisine in Diaspora: A Hidden Library Collection," displays items from seven campus libraries and highlights research and recreational material centered on traditional recipes from across the globe. The exhibit is on display in the library's Marshall Gallery through the end of April and also available online.

Elizabeth Workman, Yung-hui Chou, and Alice Tierney-Fife in front of their winning exhibit
Elizabeth Workman, Yung-hui Chou, and Alice Tierney-Fife stand in front of their exhibit in the Marshall Gallery.

The students, who are graduate assistants in the International and Area Studies (IAS) Library, work on a variety of projects that allow them to learn more about the library's collections. The exhibit draws inspiration from two ongoing projects: the library's collection development and digitization project centered on global diasporas and its International Cooking Show, a monthly show on Zoom that features a regional dish and library resources related to the dish or cooking traditions.

"While putting together the book list for this exhibit, we found searching the online catalog more challenging than expected," said Chou. "This was partially due to the diversity of the regions and topics covered by these books and partially because the subject headings did not always effectively link these books and facilitate our search—that's why the secondary title of this exhibit is 'A Hidden Library Collection.' This experience also prompted us to reflect on the roles librarians can play in discovering and promoting library resources, as well as facilitating cross-discipline conversations."

The students discovered new recipes that they would like to try—orange cardamom cookies, shepherd's pie, and corn and goat's milk pudding with blackberry sorbet, chocolate crumble, and tapioca pearls—and some they may not—like "balut" (steamed fertilized bird egg).

"I really liked finding recipes that are not only traditional but have a personal connection to the authors. The book Biting Through the Skin includes pictures of the author's family recipe cards with handwritten notes in a mix of languages and does a great job of communicating the personal and unifying nature of those dishes," said Workman.

When she graduates in May, Workman would like to find a role as an academic librarian or undergraduate student success librarian. Chou is also interested in academic librarianship, especially in global and area studies, but would likewise enjoy working in archives and special collections. Tierney-Fife is interested in cataloging and metadata, e-resources, and digital preservation.

"It's been so fun and interesting to work on this project with Yung-hui and Elizabeth, and I learned so much," said Tierney-Fife. "I hope that everyone enjoys the exhibit and is inspired to try new foods. I haven't been able to try cooking any of the recipes yet, but I'd love to someday! My cooking skills are still at the beginner stage, but I'll get there."