D. Vanessa Kam

Fine Arts Librarian
University of British Columbia
May/June 2006

I have been a member of ARLIS/NA since 2000. Its conferences and publications have provided a number of avenues for my development as a professional. The networking opportunities at conferences are unbeatable and have contributed to ongoing collegial relationships with peers around the country and beyond. Some sessions have been memorable and even inspiring, such as the Diversity Forum that took place in Baltimore in 2003. Committee work can be particularly rich in ARLIS/NA, and my involvement in the Public Policy Committee has broadened my awareness of how pieces of legislation come about and how policies can have a critical impact on libraries and access to information. Art Documentation, as the society's journal, offers fine opportunities for publishing, working with a great editorial staff, and for expanding one's knowledge of the field. 

But perhaps the most rewarding elements of being a member of ARLIS/NA and attending its conferences are the things that happen outside of formally scheduled meetings and meeting places. A conversation during an airport shuttle ride offered me a window into the work life of an engaging librarian at a seminal urban museum library. Another librarian took me and a trio of others down memory lane in a personal car while offering insights into growing up in Los Angeles and the tribulations of playing in an almost-famous rock 'n' roll band. Several members and supporters of the Diversity Committee gathered around a hotel lobby and discussed a vision of the committee that still motivates me. And side by side lap swimming in a conference site pool with fellow swimming librarians has played a critical part in my development. The list goes on and I look forward to augmenting it.