Museum Library Division Business Meeting Minutes
ARLIS/NA Conference, St. Louis
Saturday, March 23, 2002
The minutes from the 2001 Business Meeting
were approved with minor alterations.
The current officers were introduced,
including Mr. Ken Soehner, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Division Moderator, Ms.
Francis Clymer, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, incoming Co-moderator, and Ms.
Eumie Imm-Stroukoff, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Update
column Editor. Mr. Jeffrey Weidman,
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, incoming Co-moderator, was unable to attend.
Ms. Imm-Stroukoff was nominated as Moderator
of the Division for 2004 by Ms. Jeannette Dixon, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,
and was seconded by Ms. Clymer. Ms.
Imm-Stroukoff was unanimously elected Division Moderator for 2004.
Following this, nomination of Update editor occurred. Current
editor Ms. Imm-Stroukoff provided the group with a description of the duties,
which includes the solicitation of ideas over ARLIS-L, editing of the column,
addressing research topics, and incorporating museum news.
Ms. Lilah Mittelstaedt, Philadelphia Museum of Art, volunteered and was
elected to serve as next year’s editor.
During Mr. Soehner’s tenure he undertook
the gathering of public service policies. He
felt that this would be an effective way to tap into the collective wisdom of
the group. He found that this did
not come to fruition for a variety of reasons.
The first of which was that it was in some ways a reinvention of the
wheel, because ALA has created a similar range of policies in the past.
Secondarily, it was felt that these types of policies are consulted on an
as needed basis, rather than developed or consulted systematically.
Furthermore, use of the listserv can tap this collective wisdom at will.
Ms. Imm-Stroukoff reported on the status of
the Update column. She noted that two columns had been written during the past
year. The first focused on the
development of the Solo Librarians Discussion Group, which recruited 17 active
members. The second addressed
MOMA’s reduction in hours, as well as reductions at other institutions.
Mr. Roger Lawson, National Gallery of Art,
discussed the recent work of NINCH (The National Initiative for a Networked
Cultural Heritage) which last gathered in December 2001. NINCH is a non-profit organization that is funded by the
Mellon Foundation. It has recently
published the Guide to Good Practice in
the Digital Representation & Management of Cultural Heritage Material.
It has also recently held a series of copyright town hall meetings across
the country, which focused on such issues as copyright, trademark, the
information commons, as well as material in the public domain.
Ms. Joan Benedetti, LACMA, announced that
she will serve on a panel discussion at this conference devoted to the concerns
of solo librarians. In preparation
for this she conducted a survey that was sent to 44 art librarians, who were
members of a solo librarians discussion group.
Of this grouping, 31 were art museum librarians.
Of the 44 art librarians poled, 27 respondents replied - a 55% rate of
return. Her motivation was partly a
personal one as she wanted to determine what had happened in the four
intervening years since she had left her solo position.
The questionnaire was comprised of 25 questions relating to size, budget,
staff, etc. Ms. Benedetti indicated that she will post a message via
ARLIS-L indicating when the results have been tabulated. She will then send the complete results to individuals as
Ms. Lori Thorrat, Cleveland Museum of Art,
expressed that she sees a lot of diversity in the division, and added that we
don’t have a strong sense of who we are.
She indicated that Ms. Benedetti’s survey might shed some light on best
Ms. Clymer, incoming Co-moderator, welcomed
suggestions for topics of discussion during the coming year.
She put forth the possibility that the division could build upon Ms.
Benedetti’s survey by including mid- to large-size art museum libraries.
Another topic proposed was impact that technology has had upon user
expectations, as well as upon the resources available within our institutions.
Further, she suggested that the group could build upon Mr. Soehner’s
concept of a spec kit.
Ms. Dixon proposed a rejuvenation of the
Museum Library Director’s Discussion Group that has convened at past
Another suggestion from the floor was the mounting of collection policies on the ARLIS/NA website, as well as the inclusion of statistics. Mr. Soehner commented upon the issue of maintenance of the site and the challenges of updating information in a timely manner.
Ms. Meg Klinkow, Kenamore and Klinkow,
supported the idea of compiling a range of policies and approaches, so that
others could learn from one another, rather than view a gathering of policies as
a method for establishing a standard.
As a follow-up to this, another member
suggested that a bibliography be compiled of mission statements and policies, in
order to create a gathering of best practices.
Mr. Soehner addressed a topic of concern for
many - erosion of institutional support. He
asked whether this was a trend or merely an aberration. He volunteered to moderate a session on museum libraries that
focused on survival strategies. When
canvassing the membership prior to the conference, he was pleased to learn of
several expansions projects underway or completed at the following institutions:
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Amon Carter Museum , Philadelphia Museum of Art,
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, to name a few.
However, many others are now facing cutbacks in staff, and in some cases
the closure of libraries altogether. He
felt that part of the reason for such closures is that libraries don’t offer
much in the way of revenue to the institutions that they support.
He suspected that in these difficult times there may be a bust to follow
the boom of the last five years. Mr.
Soehner asked for broader confirmation of these varying trends.
Are people seeing staff cuts, postponements of expansions or other
Ms. Susan Nurse, Memorial Art Gallery,
provided testimony as to the condition of her library.
She noted that the library is used less frequently by college students
for a variety of reasons. Several
reasons stated were cutbacks by schools in art programs, an increasing number of
adjunct faculty members who are not as prone to encourage students to use
libraries, as well as increasing access to collections via the web.
On a positive note, her library has received a grant to start an
educational resource center in the library, which she is willing to address at
next year’s conference. Despite
the low number of users, circulation is up 400% percent over the past year.
Ms. Nurse noted that the library is part of the education department.
Ms. Nancy McKowpen, Dayton Art Institute,
has seen a double in usage recently. Part
of their success has been as a result of programming that focused around
exhibits. She also noted that her
library is part of the education department, which has served her quite well.
Ms. Rodica Preda, Frick Art Reference
Library, commented upon the differences between those libraries within education
departments and those outside.
Ms. Klinkow noted that Ms. Nancy Simon,
previously of the Denver Art Museum, was not present at the conference this year
as the library at her institution has been closed.
She suggested that we lobby to ensure that this does not happen in the
future. Ms. Ann Abid, Cleveland
Museum of Art, commented that Denver has never had a strong view of libraries,
and as a result has had little support.
Mr. Soehner commented that this was an
unfortunate trend this past year, as a number of our colleagues are not present
as a result of cutbacks and closures. One
way to counteract this is to make ourselves an integral part of the institution.
Mr. Milan Hughston, MOMA, noted that
building projects can have a negative impact upon museum libraries.
They are often exciting times, but can make it difficult for libraries to
remain focused during times of transition.
Mr. Hughston proposed a program for Baltimore tentatively entitled “How
to Cope with an Expansion Project.”
Mr. Soehner noted that increases in
infrastructure often do not result in increases in staff levels.
Ms. Debby Aframe, Worcester Art Museum,
noted that their library could well have been closed were it not for the support
of a local university, the College of Holy Cross, who now manage and provide
funding for the library. This is
the first of a three-year contract. As
can be seen, this is still a precarious situation.
Ms. Ursula Kolmstetter, Indianapolis Museum
of Art, noted the loss of a librarian at the Museum of Contemporary Art in
Ms. Heidi Hass, Pierpont Morgan Library,
stated that it is important to maintain open lines of communication throughout
the year with your financial officers. This
will help to alleviate financial crises.
Ms. Barbara Mathe, American Museum of
Natural History, indicated that institutions are no longer solely about research
and education, but about the box office. She
used the Smithsonian as an example. She
further noted that they are now doing more projects than ever, like the recent
expansion of web projects such as the American
Museum of Natural History Congo Expedition. However, the same level of staff is expected to do more work.
Ms. Liz O’Keefe, Pierpont Morgan Library,
noted that they have a big expansion planned, which may result in a temporary
move to Queens.
Ms. Abid indicated that she recently
conducted an informal survey of four institutions regarding staffing levels for
various job functions. She
attempted to gauge the number of staff members utilized for each function. Ms. Dixon requested that Ms. Abid make the resulting data
available to the group.
Ms. Patrice O’Donahue, Arkansas Arts
Center, stated that funding is a concern at her library.
They are presently looking for grant funding, as their budget has been
cut. She would like to hear more
about how others utilize volunteers as a method for dealing with lean budgets.
Ms. Kathleen Stacey, Walters Art Library,
addressed the issue of budgets, indicating that volunteers, boards, and friends
groups can be excellent sources of funding.
Mr. Floyd Sweeting, Frick Art Reference
Library, recommended that libraries consider applying for e-rate discounts for
which schools and libraries are eligible. He
will post the relevant information to ARLIS-L.
Ms. Joan Stahl reviewed the types of session
formats that will be available at the upcoming conference in Baltimore.
Unlike previous years, individuals are encouraged to submit proposals.
It is no longer necessary to get division or section support for
proposals. Further, there will not
be any AskArlis sessions. However,
a point-counterpoint format will be made available.
Mr. Soehner polled the group for session
proposals. Based upon the preceding
discussion, the following were suggested “Synergy: partnering in creative
ways” and “Coping with cuts: creative budgeting. ”
Susanna Tejada, Albright-Knox Art Gallery,
made a proposal to the group about co-sponsoring a session with the
International Relations Committee related to Nordic libraries.
Another session proposal from the floor
focused upon biennials and fairs.
Mr. Soehner noted in closing that he felt
the scheduling of the business meeting and discussion group together was a good
combination, as it brings together members of the museum library community for
both of these important discussions.
Respectfully submitted by Jon Evans on May 13, 2002.