Art Libraries Society of
Session IX: Matters of Scale: the Nature of the Smaller Art Library
Sarah E. McCleskey, Clemson University
Sarah introduced the session and speakers by referring to the unique challenges of smaller museum and art and design school libraries. She anticipated the speakers' positive and pro-active approaches in addressing the marginalization of small libraries:
Claudia Covert, Library Director, Corcoran College of Art and Design and Museum of Art, Lessons Learned and Applied and Loree Bourgoin, Librarian, Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, A Matter of Scale: Managing Small Art Libraries—a joint presentation
Emphasizing a triad of collaboration, outreach, and advocacy, the speakers began with a specific set of recommendations from Judith A. Seiss, publisher and editor of The One Person Library newsletter: time management techniques, such as advertising only what you have and what you can do; delegating; providing good customer service and follow-through; filing every day; assigning themes (collection development, donations) to days of the month; maintaining pre-formatted spreadsheets for efficient data collection; and making to-do lists.
OUTREACH & COLLABORATION
The speakers presented their libraries,
the Corcoran Library and the Krieble Library, as case studies, beginning with
outreach and collaboration. The Corcoran
Library Liaisons meet
s three times annually and comprise students,
faculty, and museum staff. The summer
meeting is a purchasing trip, and in the spring meeting, the committee
addresses collection development guidelines.
The Corcoran Library Council serves as an outreach tool, sponsoring
public lectures; book donations, including artist's books, increased as a
result. Accreditation serves as leverage
for additional online resources. A
newsletter, Library Lexicon, designed by a college work-study graphic design
student, provides additional promotion of the library's missions and services,
and in addition it advertises the library's Web address. With continual growth in usage of the Krieble
Library, there have been parallel increases in staff and holdings. A faculty retreat was a good opportunity to
assess library services through a user survey.
The librarian met with the faculty in groups, as well as with department
heads and new faculty, resulting in active participation in material selection,
bibliographic instruction, and advocacy.
The Academic Affairs Committee developed a formal advisory group for the
library, with liaisons to studio and academic departments, students, and the
board of trustees.
In the area of assessment, a survey at the Corcoran is the outlet for praise as well as for criticism. At Lyme surveys and accreditation self-study teams have been helpful activities for gathering assessment data.
Opportunities for the professional staff to attend conferences are essential, yielding important ideas for development of the library, such as offering special congratulations to student award winners who were also avid library users. Sharing of policies, strategies, and purchasing has real benefits.
At the Corcoran, an internship program, despite the time investment, yielded very positive results. At the Krieble, several highly skilled volunteers were recruited through a formal volunteer program, which was promoted on the library Web site. At the same time, reliance on support staff for cataloging and basic reference is necessary.
Negotiation with outside stakeholders is essential.
Outsourcing as much as possible has
real advantages in institutions with limited human resources. Consortial agreements for group purchasing of
databases are important. Linking with
faculty to bring
ing library resources into the classroom via technology
represents sounds collaboration.
REFERENCE & INSTRUCTION
At the Corcoran, despite the initial investment of time, instruction, whether of docents, faculty, or students, ultimately had great benefits: saving time in reference, increasing donations, raising circulation. At Lyme, open sessions and orientations at the beginning of semesters grew through word of mouth. Assignment-based and class-specific sessions have very positive results.
Advocacy to faculty, trustees, and development staff is essential.
Outreach, collaboration, and advocacy are a useful mantra. Knowledge of fiscal cycles, coupled with an external focus, insures a healthy future for a small facility.
Polly McCord, Architecture Librarian, Architecture Library, University of Arizona. Little Fish in a Big Pond, or How to Get Heard in a Team Environment
As the University considered the elimination of certain academic programs, the discipline of planning was relocated within the academic environment, from the College of Architecture to the Graduate College. This symbolized an ongoing shift in management structure, beginning in 1992, when a team environment was introduced. In 1999 planning was added to architecture, resulting in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. The team organization chart is essentially horizontal, with classified staff having a seat at the management table. Restructuring changes focused on the largest service centers and centers of employee population, with the following issues resulting: supervision of staff in the architecture library, control over the circulation desk, management of customer service, and security. Student staff are supervised externally. The effect of this on the library is profound, since project teams are cross-functional: the architecture library falls within the fine arts and humanities team, except that circulation is governed by the materials access team. A prototype fine arts libratory (sic) resulted in reference staff, reserves, and library staff moving from the architecture library to the new facility, even though most collections remained in the other location.
Developments in 2003-2004 include a reduction in library hours by 50%, the need for paging of most materials, unhappy customers, and endangerment of renewed accreditation by NAAB (National Architectural Accrediting Board). Changes were explained to the NAAB through an amendment to the self-study report.
The result of this unconventional management structure is problematic, in that the library director is never independent and finds herself with responsibility but without authority.
Ruth Wallach, Head Librarian, Architecture and Fine Arts Library, University of Southern California.
What’s in a Brand? The Platonic Cave of Librarianship
The University of Southern California is a private institution of higher learning, with fourteen libraries in addition to the main library. There is a continuous process of team building and matrix building, resulting at times in an underground level of activity for accomplishing results.
In 1945 General Education in a Free Society; Report of the Harvard Committee (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press), known as the red book, was published. It presents a liberal ideology to counteract Communism and recommends a series of texts to provide a vocabulary of ideas shared as a unifying experience. In 1970 academia witnessed a backlash against the blind ideals of a meritocracy. Perhaps the golden age of higher education occurred between these two eras, during which time the number of undergraduates increased by 500%. By the late 1960s, a new community college was founded each week. After 1975 growth leveled off, and during the last 25 years there has been a premium placed on life experience and an emphasis on life-long learning. Traditional higher education was seen as the transferral of content, whereas in today's highly technological environment, change, driven by economics and market-driven forces, is paramount. Competition is driving universities to look at skill levels, to redefine their niches, and to embrace other institutions.
What effect do these trends have on libraries? They force them to assess how their collections and services add value to the university and to assess what their collections and maintenance actually cost. As the management of universities is more and more in the throes of assessment and branding, conceptualizing the ideal user of services is important. Why, however, is this problematic? The answer lies in the reality that funders are not users, and that their interests may not conform to the mission of the university. Further, with this trend the boundaries of scholarship have expanded, with library catalogs mimicking Amazon.com and students turning in papers culled from the World Wide Web. Therefore, we find ourselves on a slippery slope of branding and must determine to whom we compare ourselves.
What libraries do have is a set of principles that define our professional responsibilities. To what extent should matrix organizations reflect what art librarians do? What do art librarians do that contributes to branding? Perhaps they have more credibility with their constituencies than with their administrations. There are several characteristics of art librarians as a professional group that may render the centralized model inefficient, if in fact the main library is privileged: they are self-organizing, with a responsibility to specialized communities, and at the same time navigate the pull toward the generic.
In an article in The Guardian ("How to . . . use a library," October 18, 2003), Guy Browning wrote,
"Libraries are brothels for the mind. Which means that librarians are the madams, greeting punters, understanding their strange tastes and needs, and pimping their books. "
--Recorded by Paul Glassman