Present: Henrietta Zielinski (Chair); Anne Britton; Mo Dawley; Claire Eike; Jack Robertson; Eumie Imm Stroukoff.
The meeting began with a review of the well-received NART-sponsored session held on Saturday, April 5th: "Should a Moment Last Forever?"
There was some debate as to whether or not NART is coming up with the same topics of discussion repeatedly: e.g. that librarians need to maintain more contact with artists; that ephemeral works of art are difficult to document; that we need to re-define the purpose of our committee; etc.... Why do we keep re-covering the same ground? There being no definitive answers to these that we need to re-define the purpose of our committee; etc.... Why do we keep re-covering the same ground? There being no definitive answers to these issues, we seem to keep discussing them. Redundancy seems to be an unavoidable aspect of our work. If the problems we encounter don't have "final solutions", how can we put a new twist on them and come up with more creative ways to think about the same old problems? Simon Anderson's statement about performing the work of art in order to better understand it as an art historian was noted as an example of taking a new view of familiar problems (interpretation and documentation). Also appreciated and discussed was Lou Mallozzi's comment that it is the "goneness" of an art event that one is challenged to document.
Whether or not the scope or charge of the committee should be re-defined was discussed at NART's business meeting last year as well. Notes from that meeting show that a consensus was reached: we do not need to rethink the purpose or agenda of the committee, instead we need to do a better job of articulating those items to the broader membership of the Society. This can be purpose or agenda of the committee, instead we need to do a better job of articulating those items to the broader membership of the Society. This can be done by planning excellent, entertaining and meaningful conference sessions.
Round table discussion then returned to ideas for future conference proposals. What if we took ourselves and our need for professional dignity less seriously? What if, in the spirit of much new art, we focused on having more fun and playing with ideas, while continuing to do a great job (our standard job) on documentation. What kind of new service policies would evolve in our libraries if we loosened up and put aside some conventions? Realizing that many of these proposals are impractical (and that some are perhaps better not acted upon), the round table decided to at least document the moment of our discussion. Individual NART members may or may not choose to develop some actual conference proposals for Philadelphia out of these "scores."
1. What, of quality and real interest, are artists doing on the web? What artist-made sites display more intriguing qualities than marketing and self-promotion? Make a distinction between creating and documenting art on the web. Which sites have "live" art? Could we develop a b.i. session on this topic that would help students find and evaluate artists' web sites?
2. Create a "web conference session" -- a live internet feed.
3. Have closed-circuit television cameras in the elevators at the conference hotel with viewing monitors in the Internet Room and/or at the Membership Meeting.
4. Practicing artists working as librarians: how do they put their creativity into the choices they make as documentalists? Is their "interpretation" (via documentation) different than that of a scholar. All of history involves interpretation and transcription, whether one is writing a book or an article, creating a web site, downloading web pages to CD-ROM, transferring film to video or cataloging a collection. One must ask who the producer is, who the audience is, what the intentions are.
5. Is our obsession with documenting -- with extending the life of works of art and with preserving culture -- related somehow to our fear of death? Invite a psychologist to speak about obsessive-compulsive behavior and fear of death? Touch on the myth of professionalism?
6. What would librarians be doing if we weren't obsessing about documenting everything?
7. Imagine the library of the future as created by artists.
8. Turn the tables -- document the librarians. Librarians are "kind of schizoid" -- i.e., both creative and compulsive. Are we victims of ourselves? Invite performance artists to go into libraries and observe librarians for some period of time. Then have them give a live performance at the conference, based on their interpretation of what librarians do. Subthemes: observing ourselves; shocking ourselves out of denial and unquestioned habit; embarrassing the Society; loosening up the profession; becoming more creative. Can we continue to do a good job while having more fun?
9. Have therapists on site in the hospitality suite to discuss with conference attendees their anxieties over their jobs. "Why did you become a librarian?" Get back in touch with your original passion, revive your creativity, turn caterpillars into butterflies. (These could be real therapists or performance artists.)
10. Hold a talent contest. Impersonate your colleagues. Tableaux vivants of great moments in cataloging. The reference interview as performance. Personnel management as happening. Identify our weak points through humor.
11. Sponsor an Artist-in-Residence program. Raise money to fund ARLIS members as artists-in-residence at libraries willing/able to participate. The residency assignment might be to perform, produce, exhibit and/or get your colleagues to loosen up. Creativity is the theme.
Also discussed were ways to streamline conference expenses to the Society. Even modest savings (e.g. skip the tablecloths and candies at business meetings) would allow a bit more money to be used in support of quality programming with more outside speakers participating.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago