Moderator: Jeri Byrne, Beverly Hills Public Library, Beverly Hills,California
Sponsor: Public Library Division
Jill Connor, Brand Library and Art Center, Glendale, CA:
Classes were not started as a public service, but from necessity. Easier if all patrons with similar questions came in at the same time.
Brand Library is a special location, a turn of the century mansion converted to an art and music library. It’s a separate building from the parent public library. Everyone in the world can call in - we accept questions from anyone. At first, patrons were limited to questions on one artist, with a maximum of three sources, per day. Then, the classes were established and “sold” to the questioners, which took some pressure off the librarians. The classes are a way to let people know that some research expertise is needed to get information about artists.
The classes are advertised by signs throughout the library, a list of instructions for reference desk staff to use on the phone, and instructions for the potential students about what they need to bring to class. Patrons must sign up and give their phone numbers. The class is held before the library opens in the art reference room, where all the auction and local artist information is together. The students are allowed to look at the books as they are being discussed. Students need a checklist, with room for notes, not a bibliography. Classes start with price information/auction records, then dictionaries (e.g. Benezit). Each source is shown to the students. I made pencilled notes in some sources, e.g. where the “explanation” page is. Each class takes about 45 minutes. Small groups are fine - they get to spend more time with the sources. The checklist exhausts people - makes them realize how the process works and how extensive it can be.
Nothing horrible has ever happened in the classes. There has been
good feedback from students and administration. The classes are just
BI built into a “little jewel.” Press releases about the
classes are always printed in local papers, often tied in to local arts festival.
Ursula Kolmstetter, Head Librarian, Indianapolis Museum of Art:
The museum sponsored a day during which people could bring artwork for curators to see. After a patron accused a curator of stealing a “valuable” work of art, curators were fed up. I stepped in and offered a monthly talk in the library on how to research a work of art. Now it’s the first Tuesday of every month.
I emphasize that the classes are NOT appraisals or authentifications. I can’t say that often enough. Patrons do NOT bring artwork into museum.
The talk consists of:
Classes are free but patrons must register (need to know numbers).
We also offer a conservation clinic every three months. Conservators help patrons. Patrons bring in art for advice on care, treatment, even display options.
We also offer several more in depth workshops that public can attend, often in conjunction with an exhibition. For example, “Researching Works on Paper” was held with an emphasis on collecting. These workshops have more appeal and thus more attendance. In depth workshops are often held in conjunction with others, e.g. conservation, gallery owners, curators, appraisers. Other examples are: American paintings, European paintings, silver. More elaborate bibliographies and articles on collecting art are included.
We also hold workshops for docents, a reception with a “scavenger hunt.” We say where to find information, so docents get to know the library.
Mimi Hernandez, Washington DC Public Library:
I began this paper when working at the University of Arizona as Art and African American Studies Librarian. I’ll also include experience from other libraries I’ve worked - Univ. of Tennessee Chattanooga, Tennessee Botanical Gardens and Fine Arts Center.
At the U of A, I had access to all the tools. Over 6000 titles to use as resources - art and all related subjects. Campus was in process of wiring all the dorms, so students would have access to the Internet and CD ROMS in library.
At U of A, I conducted bibliographic instruction at the university level. It was hard to find out what courses would be offered in advance. Worked with faculty, vendors and catalogers to get books on shelves. I often had to rescue “ephemera” that catalogers would discard. It was easier to work with computer literate faculty who used the electronic classroom. Got lots of their students into the library for BI that way.
I produced a 36 page bibliography for graduate students, with evaluations of sources - journals, books, and websites. The bibliographies were tailored for individual classes. Once a year, I’d have the faculty come into the library to see what sources were available for use in the classroom. I also often had to do BI for colleagues at ref. desk who were not familiar with the art sources.
You have to make sure the students work with you. They’ll sit at a terminal and just start typing, without knowing what index they are in, then they can’t find the information.
We also had the patrons who found “treasures” in attics and flea markets.
Classes were not too big - did more one on one instruction. Included
business card for follow up.