Thank you, Milan, for that kind introduction. My fellow ARLIS members, did you know that in my heart, I am a librarian!
Reading was important from my earliest years. My family purchased books and used the library constantly. When I was a little girl, I would play librarian. I would line up my small collection of beginning readers and loan them to my friends.
In high school, I opted out of study hall to become a volunteer librarian's assistant, shelving books and learning the organizational system. When I was at the University of Chicago, where I obtained my bachelors and masters degrees, I worked at the Reserve Library. I was a heavy user of both the University of Chicago's twenty-one library system and the outstanding collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.
And then a few years passed, or so they seemed, while I married, taught school and began my family of two sons. Later I obtained my doctorate and became an assistant professor of Art History at the University of North Texas. This institution had a different system than most. The faculty controlled the library budget and directed the collection development.
When I began my tenure in the Art Department, I inherited the position of art bibliographer, a responsibility that I held for the twenty years I taught at UNT. Moreover, I served twelve years, as one of the nine members on the University Library Board, the governing body for the entire university library system.
When I was employed at North Texas in 1972, there were very few art resources. We didn't even have a copy of Thieme-Becker and Bénézit. And you can imagine my surprise, when I started using the art reference tools in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They were nothing like Chicago's! Now remember this was back in the dark ages: no computers, limited interlibrary loans, no regular avenue for networking, and no ARLIS!
As a concerned art history professor, I wanted my students to expend less time trying to obtain research materials and to spend more time reading and studying them. And as a start, I decided to ask the regional librarians if they would assist me in making a list of the art and art-related journals available in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, a list which would then be shared by all.
I was so green and inexperienced that I didn't even know the meaning of the word serial! But with the rudimentary list that I had compiled for North Texas, I went to the area libraries and introduced myself.
Well, I had the most fabulous luck! The luck of the Irish, some would say. I had an appointment with Ilsa Rothrock of the then just opened Kimbell Art Museum and arrived on the day Judy Hoffberg was there making an appeal for librarians to join the newly formed Art Libraries Society of North America. Ilsa and Nancy Wynne of the Amon Carter Museum suggested that I might like to join the group and attend the ARLIS conference in Detroit.
I jumped at the chance. This was my opportunity to learn about quality art reference materials from experts, which is what happened. I had much to learn and my teachers were the finest art librarians in the country. I have always been thankful for the guidance and direction they gave me.
And when our group returned to Texas, we all rolled up our sleeves and produced a union list of art and art-reference serials for the area. I had envisioned a model-T Ford; these fabulous librarians produced a Cadillac!
But I digress; back to the ARLIS connection. Since my first meeting in 1974, I have never missed an ARLIS/NA conference, which I consider the best educational opportunity available as well as networking, par excellence!
Which comes to what I would like to say.
Be active in ARLIS. Attend the conferences and listen to those in the profession who have much to give you. When someone asks you to be on a committee, say yes enthusiastically. Then do your best to be a willing, hard working member of that group.
You will be rewarded 100 times over: in the things you learn, the professional colleagues who will inspire you, the friends you will make, and the networking you will encounter. I am sure that your experiences will match my own.
During that 1974 Detroit ARLIS/NA meeting, Judy Hoffberg asked me if I would become a member of the professional Standards Committee. What an opportunity that was! We met for years and years, nine to be exact, from 1974 to 1983 under Chairman Bill Bunce. The committee produced two important reports: Standards for Staffing Art Libraries and Collection Development Standards for Art Libraries. A rewarding experience of working with professional colleagues.
At the 1977 Los Angeles ARLIS/NA Conference, Bill Bunce introduced me to Caroline Backlund. I'll never forget it; we rode together on the bus trip to Santa Barbara, started talking, and haven't stopped yet! Caroline is an excellent editor and has continuously guided me in my professional work. She has always provided moral and intellectual support. A true friend!
When I was Chair for the ARLIS/NA-CAA Joint session at the 1980 New Orleans Conference, I had the very good fortune to meet Sarah Scott Gibson, a great educator and art librarian. Sally and I wrote a book together. A mark of real friendship!
As the Co-Chair for the 1988 Dallas Conference, I more than ever appreciated the dedication and sacrifices the Texas chapter members were willing to make to assist me. The ARLIS/TEXAS group pulled together in a marvelous way, and once again I would like to thank them. And especially, the outstanding Co-Chair, Milan Hughston.
For the first edition of Art Research Methods and Resources, I traveled around the United States, Canada, and Europe and personally evaluated every resource listed. This was prior to 1978, and I was just beginning to know some of the ARLIS librarians.
Wherever I went, they assisted me, being generous, more than you can possibly imagine, with both their time and expertise. They know who they are, and how grateful I am. I wrote the book to instruct my students, never dreaming that the art librarians, who know so much more than I ever will, would also use the book.
And so, when I came to the second and third editions, I asked some of my ARLIS colleagues, all experts, to take a section of material within their proficiency and examine it to insure that my evaluations were correct. In the book, I call them my Board of Directors. They were just wonderful and I have acknowledged them there. Thank you again.
Many ARLIS members have inspired me through their publications in Art Documentation and by their sharing their views with us at ARLIS Conferences. I can't name them all. But the point is that the competency and professionalism of these writers and speakers is a shinning example to others.
The future for ARLIS/NA is fabulous! As the sheer volume of information is exploding, the importance of the World Wide Web takes on new meaning. There is so much on the Internet--from the substantive to just plain junk! Only you art librarians will be able to provide the direction and knowledge to those seeking art information. Your jobs will be more demanding, but more exciting! The future is yours, for the taking.
Perhaps you have never noticed, but both the second and third editions of my methodology book is dedicated to my friends and colleagues in the Art Libraries Society/North America.
I would like to dedicate this award the same way--to you, my friends and colleagues. Thank you for sharing so generously, over the years, your time and expertise, for making me look a lot better than I am, and for including me in the august society of the distinguished service award winners. I will always cherish this great honor.
Lois Swan Jones