Greta Bahnemann

Metadata Coordinator, Minnesota Digital Library
University of Minnesota
March/April 2011

How many kids announce that they want to be an art librarian when they grow up? Like so many individuals in our field, I didn't start out with that professional goal. Indeed, I wasn't even aware that that option existed until well into adulthood. 

After finishing my undergraduate degree, I attended the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture. I then worked in museum collection management and exhibit development. After almost ten years in the museum field, I reached a professional crossroads; and eventually I decided to attend library school as a means to broaden my professional skill set. 

After researching the various programs, I decided on the University of British Columbia's School of Library, Archival & Information Studies. While in Vancouver, I was fortunate to work in the Fine Arts Library with Vanessa Kam. Vanessa was my first contact with ARLIS/NA. 

This connection expanded when I became the recipient of the 2006 ARLIS/NA Internship. I completed my internship at the New York Public Library and then headed to Banff for the ARLIS/NA annual conference. While in Banff, I had the opportunity to meet many interesting and engaging individuals--ranging from other recent library school graduates to seasoned professionals. 

My first post-library school job was working at Cornell University for Margaret Webster. It is no exaggeration to say that working for Margaret changed my professional life. As a past president of ARLIS/NA, she embodies so much of what I think ARLIS/NA represents: professionals helping professionals. 

Margaret was a true mentor--one who actively sought professional opportunities for me, as well as encouraged my post-graduate learning and education. She helped me to become the library professional that I am today. 

Since joining ARLIS/NA in 2006, I have found many ways to become involved at both the national and local levels. Today I am chair of the ARLIS/NA Internship Subcommittee and am co-vice moderator for the Visual Resources Division. I am also a member of the Local Planning Committee for the upcoming joint conference. 

I maintain that joining ARLIS/NA isn't about going through the motions of signing another membership card, so much as it is about becoming a part of a large network of like-minded professionals. This network fosters a spirit of cooperation and also possesses an amazing capacity to welcome and make room for new members.