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USC Libraries win public relations award

Members of the USC community built the Mosely Snowflake Fractal out of 49,000 folded business cards. (Photo/Noe Montes)

The California Library Association (CLA) has honored the USC Libraries with its 2013 PRExcellence Award for the Mosely Snowflake Fractal and related communications and programming.

Led by USC Libraries Discovery Fellow Margaret Wertheim, USC students, faculty, and staff, as well as students from nearby middle schools and other volunteers, created the Mosely Snowflake Fractal out of 49,000 folded business cards over seven months.

The fractal is a giant, 120-pound object that showcases the USC Libraries’ role as a place where disciplines intersect and where artists and scholars engage library collections and people to make possible surprising discoveries and creative works. Such results were among USC Libraries’ Dean Catherine Quinlan’s goals when establishing the Discovery Fellowship and appointing Wertheim as the inaugural fellow in 2011.

CLA described the annual prize as one that “honor[s] the highest quality efforts of California libraries in promoting and communicating their message,” with several categories for budget size and type of program. The New York Times featured the fractal in an article by Wertheim titled “Many Hands Make Fractals Tactile.” Wired highlighted the project in its Wired Design blog, and KCET-TV’s Artbound program produced an eight-minute online video about the project, “An Origami Moment,” which later appeared on broadcast television. Other media coverage included blog posts on Boing Boing, Inhabitat and Library as Incubator.

The fractal takes its name from engineer and origami artist Jeannine Mosely, who designed and supervised the construction process. Mosely created a software model to visualize the object, assess its structural integrity, and calculate the required thickness and number of business cards.

CLA will select a best in show honoree from this year’s PRExcellence Award winners and announce the recipient at its awards gala on Nov. 3.

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USC Libraries win public relations award

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