Libraries Society of North America 31st Annual Conference
Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland - March 20-26, 2003
March 22, 2003
Wolf, Organizer and Moderator
more and more of us need to supplement our Art Librarian’s income in these
difficult times, many of us are moonlighting at various other jobs that use our
skills. Among these moonlighting
opportunities are part time jobs at other institutions typical of the work
places where we are already employed. Beyond
this, however, there is a great deal of opportunity for those of us willing to
market ourselves and take on private clients and projects.
Wolf presented his current project of cataloging the approximately 4,000 books
and auction catalogs of a medieval art gallery in New York’s Upper East Side.
This was used as a model for providing solutions to the type of problems
one might encounter when taking on a private project.
Other participants, including Liz O’Keefe, Judith Cohen, Janis Ekdahl
and Joy Kestenbaum contributed their various experiences cataloging private
libraries and doing other types of contract work for private clients.
discussed were chiefly cataloging book collections of galleries and private
collections of book collectors.
the aspects of consulting and private librarianship discussed were:
clients. Word of mouth is
important. People find these types
of jobs through talking with colleagues in venues like ARLIS local chapters.
After finding a first client, doing good work may well lead to offers
from that client’s colleagues, friends and associates.
with client what services they require. Clients
trying to organize large collections of books and other materials often have
little to no concept of the organization of information that is second nature to
us as librarians. In some cases,
merely putting books in alphabetical order suffices.
In other cases full descriptive cataloging and subject analysis is
necessary as well as classification and conservation.
When databases are required regular over-the-counter products such as MS
Access and Filemaker Pro can easily be customized to meet the needs of most
private collections. Some
participants mentioned even such simple solutions as using MS Word documents and
Excel Spreadsheets and using the “find” function within these documents.
However, Access type relational databases allow more sophisticated
searches and queries and can be made to mimic the OPACs we, and some of our
clients, are familiar with.
vocabularies and classification schemes. Again
depending on the nature of the collection and the needs of the clients a wide
range of subject headings and classification systems can be used.
Often the systems we are used to at our institutions are not appropriate
for this type of work. This is
because many private collections cover a very narrow range of subjects.
Thus, sometimes AAT is a good place to start for gallery collections, as
it is often more specific than LCSH. Eric
Wolf said he used a combination of LCSH and AAT and created an authority file in
his Access database for the library he organized.
He also developed a very simple classification scheme for the very narrow
range of medieval art that his particular client deals with.
of time and cost. This is often one
of the most difficult parts of consulting.
One learns this largely from doing the work. If a client is in a hurry it can be helpful to propose hiring
someone to assist you. Here retired librarians can be a wonderful resource.
This can be a costly component in such projects and therefore needs to be
discussed early. Again, depending on what the client wants, a vast range of
options exist, from merely putting damaged books in boxes, to sending books out
for more serious interventions.