I first became aware of ARLIS shortly after starting my current position as the librarian of the American Numismatic Society in 2008. At the time of my hire, my predecessor had already retired, so I was plunged into my new position with only my graduate degrees as training. Although I had spent a good deal of time researching in libraries and even working at the reference desk through my graduate programs in the past, I had never been in charge of such a large collection (more than 100,000 items!).
When I begin to reach out, I quickly learned that I was not alone, and I have ARLIS to thank for introducing me to a world of librarians in charge of collections very similar to my own situation. I discovered ARLIS upon looking for a library group that would reflect the unique nature and associated duties that came with managing this type of collection. Although we are open to the public, I was not sure that some of the larger library organizations were the right fit for what I was looking for. Also, as a solo librarian, it can be difficult to find the time and resources to get out and connect with others in the field. ARLIS makes it easy to do this on many different levels.
The first ARLIS event I attended was the annual meeting in Boston in 2010. My experience at the conference helped to underline that ARLIS was the best group for me--the size of the conference was not so overwhelming as to make me feel lost, and I felt that I could realistically hear all of the talks that interested me mixed with enough outside events that made it easy to make new connections. The listserv has also been a great resource and I have been able to find some wonderful interns and catalogers through the ARLIS network. My own professional background combines art history, archaeology, and library science, and ARLIS perfectly complements all of these fields while also offering useful and practical tools and events (even if I am unable to attend all that I want!).
A final memory that has stuck with me is, in the fall of 2011, I was able to organize an ARLIS tour of our Society, along with a tour of the exhibition on view at the time at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (this was a primary exhibit space for us for many years). I remember the incredibly warm reception I received from the genuinely curious tour participants and the experience has encouraged me to try and reach out on a continuing basis to other groups that might not know all that we have to offer.