Supporting Research in the Fine Arts

Jessica Hronchek, M.A., MLS | Associate Professor and Research and Instruction Librarian

The upcoming production was Dance 43, Hope College’s annual faculty recital. Forty-seven student dancers were rehearsing with seven faculty and guest choreographers, and Jessica Hroncheck was the fly on the wall.

Hronchek spent weeks shadowing the dance company and interviewing choreographers to learn more about how people share information in a creative context — and how, as Van Wylen Library’s liaison to Hope College’s fine arts faculty, she can best support their work and understand their “information ecosystem.” She also shadowed thedirector, cast and crew of Hope’s production of Love and Information, Caryl Churchill’s play about communication in the digital age.

Research is a different ballgame when it builds toward non-text-based creative products. “Some faculty use textual and interdisciplinary resources extensively in their research and some use less. There’s often serendipity within the methods. A choreographer looking for inspiration for a new piece — that’s an iterative process of text-based research, and work in the studio, and creative exploration of their own, interwoven,” Hronchek says.

In consultation with faculty, Hronchek has expanded Van Wylen Library’s resources in the arts; recent acquisitions include (a collection of contemporary dance and performance art) and the International Bibliography of Theater and Dance database. She helps faculty identify and leverage resources for campus creative events; for a 2018 theater production, for instance, she tracked down scores of 19th-century Russian folk songs so they could be integrated into the performance. To complement an exhibition in De Pree Gallery, Hronchek organized an exhibit in the library that drew on Van Wylen’s rare books collection, other print holdings and digital media.

“A certain nimbleness has to be there,” she says. “We need to go an extra mile to see that colleagues in any disciplinary area are truly heard and listened to — that library systems, processes and research methods support diverse approaches.”