|What Is An Art Librarian or Visual Resources Professional?||
Art librarians and visual resources professionals are specialists skilled in organizing and providing access to information on the visual arts. They support research, provide instruction, and promote public awareness of the arts to students, teachers, scholars, curators, artists, and others. The scope of their collections may include the entire field of visual culture or be focused on specialized areas such as art, design, film, indigenous creations, or photography. Art information professionals handle numerous formats including the printed page, slides, film, video, and electronic media.
|Where Are They Employed?||
Art librarians and visual resources professionals are employed in a diversity of educational institutions such as public libraries, college and university libraries and art departments, art museums, fashion and design institutes, and art schools. They find employment in architecture and design firms, art galleries and book shops, picture research agencies, and corporate art collections. Some professionals work for commercial indexing services and information brokers. Art information professionals can also be found in archives, historical societies, and anthropological institutions which have collections of special visual interest.
Jobs for art information professionals are listed in the ARLIS/NA Web Site's job page, in the bi-monthly ARLIS/NA Update as well as being posted on ARLIS-L. ARLIS/NA also maintains a job registry at its headquarters.
|What Do They Do?||
Art librarians and visual resources professionals perform a range of activities dedicated to the organization, retrieval, and distribution of information on the visual arts. These activities might include the provision of specialized reference and research service, the organization and cataloging of subject-specific collections, and the acquisition of materials in support of a visual arts program.
Art information professionals carry out these responsibilities in many institutional settings. They may catalog slides for a university art department, conduct database searches for museum curators, manage an historical photographic collection, create and maintain a home page on the World Wide Web, or teach methods on a college campus.
Art librarians and visual resources curators often are engaged in activities beyond their institution which enhance their expertise whether as participants in professional organizations such as ARLIS/NA or as scholars, artists, editors, etc.
|How Do You Become An Art Librarian or Visual Resources Professional?||
Persons entering the field of art librarianship and visual resources approach it from diverse backgrounds; however, they share a deep interest in the visual arts and frequently possess training and skills in art history and/or studio art.
A masters degree in library or information science from a school accredited by the American Library Association or the Canadian Library Association is required by most library employers. ARLIS/NA periodically conducts a survey of library schools in North America to determine the courses and training being offered in art librarianship and visual resources curatorship. The published results of these surveys are available at the survey website.
An advanced degree in art history is highly desirable for library positions in research institutions and is often required for visual resources curatorship. Knowledge of photographic techniques and practices is also desirable. Knowledge of foreign languages is especially helpful for cataloging, bibliographic research, and collection development. Familiarity with computers, internet, electronic media, and database management is of increasing importance.
ARLIS/NA's Staffing Standards for Art Libraries and Visual Resources Collections addresses academic preparation appropriate for art information professionals.
|Where Can I Get More Information?||
ARLIS/NA is the only professional organization in North America devoted exclusively to the concerns of art information specialists. The Society, founded in 1972, has more than 1,400 members throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Membership is open to all who share an interest in the visual arts and are involved with organizing, accessing, and disseminating materials and information in this field.
Within ARLIS/NA, groups have been formed for individuals working in similar institutions: Academic, Art and Design Schools, Museum, Public, and Visual Resources Collections. ARLIS/NA also provides opportunities for collegial exchange among those who share special areas of interest such as Architecture, Cataloging, Computers, Decorative Arts, Film and Video, Gay and Lesbian Issues, Indigenous Art and Culture, New Art, Reference and Information Services, Serials, Space Planning, and Women and Art.
ARLIS/NA publishes a semi-annual journal, Art Documentation; a bi-monthly newsletter, ARLIS/NA Update; an annual Handbook and Directory of Members; and ARLIS/NA Occasional Papers on specialized topics in art information science. Listings of professional job openings are maintained by ARLIS/NA headquarters and are posted on ARLIS-L and the ARLIS/NA Web Site jobs page.
The Society's listserv, ARLIS-L, provides a forum for lively professional discussions, informational exchange, and job announcements. The ARLIS/NA Web Site contains substantial information about the Society, including membership information, current information on available jobs, conference activities, and Society publications.
There are nineteen regional chapters within ARLIS/NA which stimulate and facilitate professional interaction on a local level. Meetings and regionally-focused activities provide a valuable introduction to one's colleagues and the concerns of the profession. When conducting a job search in a specific region, local chapters and their newsletters can be especially helpful.
ARLIS/NA is affiliated with an international network of art and library associations with whom common ideals and goals are shared.
For more information, please contact ARLIS/NA headquarters.