What Our Members Are Saying...
I first became aware of ARLIS shortly after starting my current position as the librarian of the American Numismatic Society in 2008. At the time of my hire, my predecessor had already retired, so I was plunged into my new position with only my graduate degrees as training. Although I had spent a good deal of time researching in libraries and even working at the reference desk through my graduate programs in the past, I had never been in charge of such a large collection (more than 100,000 items!).
The Francis D. Campbell Librarian
American Numismatic Society, New York, NY
When I begin to reach out, I quickly learned that I was not alone, and I have ARLIS to thank for introducing me to a world of librarians in charge of collections very similar to my own situation. I discovered ARLIS upon looking for a library group that would reflect the unique nature and associated duties that came with managing this type of collection. Although we are open to the public, I was not sure that some of the larger library organizations were the right fit for what I was looking for. Also, as a solo librarian, it can be difficult to find the time and resources to get out and connect with others in the field. ARLIS makes it easy to do this on many different levels.
The first ARLIS event I attended was the annual meeting in Boston in 2010. My experience at the conference helped to underline that ARLIS was the best group for me--the size of the conference was not so overwhelming as to make me feel lost, and I felt that I could realistically hear all of the talks that interested me mixed with enough outside events that made it easy to make new connections. The listserv has also been a great resource and I have been able to find some wonderful interns and catalogers through the ARLIS network. My own professional background combines art history, archaeology, and library science, and ARLIS perfectly complements all of these fields while also offering useful and practical tools and events (even if I am unable to attend all that I want!).
A final memory that has stuck with me is, in the fall of 2011, I was able to organize an ARLIS tour of our Society, along with a tour of the exhibition on view at the time at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (this was a primary exhibit space for us for many years). I remember the incredibly warm reception I received from the genuinely curious tour participants and the experience has encouraged me to try and reach out on a continuing basis to other groups that might not know all that we have to offer.
More From Our Members
We all have a story about how we found art librarianship, or how it found us. My story could not be written without ARLIS/NA. I first encountered ARLIS/NA in 2001, as I watched my boss, Lorraine Perrotta, Head of Technical Services at The Huntington Library, be involved in the planning of the 29th annual conference in Los Angeles. Here was an organization of dedicated professionals working in the field I was interested in and the organizations I admired.
Art Center College of Design
Through ARLIS/NA, I found people who were not afraid to take risks, be different, and experiment with new ideas. Your work inspires and challenges me as I learn how to be a better librarian. Because of your example, I look for opportunities to serve our art & design patrons in new ways. I have learned much through conferences, the listerv, local chapter, and local catalogers discussion group. The best lesson thus far is that I'm not doing this alone. ARLIS/NA is an invaluable support system, spreading collective knowledge and practice.
I am very excited to be welcoming my ARLIS/NA colleagues once again to Southern California for the upcoming 41st Annual conference here in Pasadena. The conference organizers have been working hard to develop an inspiring and educational conference. For newer ARLIS/NA members, I recommend volunteering during the conference--you'll meet some really great people this way. For veteran ARLIS/NA members, I thank you for your generosity and for your dedication to our profession. I have met some of the most generous and knowledgeable art & design information professionals through ARLIS/NA. I appreciate your openness and welcoming attitude towards those newer to the profession.
Photo caption: Gina at a Little Free Library in South Pasadena, CA
Kai Alexis Smith
Like you, I've always been passionate about art and enjoyed researching. But it wasn't until after graduating with my Bachelor's degree and trying a career as a researcher for entertainment/lifestyle magazines and websites that I realized I needed to merge the two. While taking a research methods for art historians class at Hunter College, a professor suggested that I explore the path of librarianship. When researching one day at the Frick Art Reference Library, I spoke to Suz Massen and Liz Lane about their careers. Their enthusiasm about the field was contagious. Then, I knew art librarianship was the path I needed to follow. And as per Suz and Liz's suggestion, ARLIS was the organization to join.
Library and Information Science, MSLIS Candidate
History of Art, MS Candidate
My first ARLIS/NA event was in 2011, when I went on the Mexico City study tour. It truly changed my life. Everyone on the trip was incredibly welcoming, from the other members that attended to the host institutions. I am interested in Latin American and Caribbean art and this trip provided first hand exposure to Mexican artists, museums, and libraries.
Through Project-CHART in 2012, Pratt Institute-SILS generously sponsored attendance to my first ARLIS/NA Conference in Toronto. It provided me the opportunity to officially serve and meet the Diversity Committee in person; learn about the latest technologies, issues, ideas, and trends in the field; and expand my network exponentially. I met students and new members like myself as well as seasoned professionals. Recently, I won the ARLIS/NA 2013 Internship Award and am working on firming up plans at an institution for later in the year.
As a newbie, ARLIS/NA to me means a wonderful community, role models to shape myself after, and opportunities to flourish. I look forward to graduating in May 2013 and am very excited about being apart of the ARLIS community as I start my professional career. I plan to continue to be active on the national level and to be more active in my local chapter as well.
There are so many more pivotal ARLIS members that I haven't mentioned and I would like to let them know how grateful I am for their guidance and mentoring. I truly have found my calling and the professional organization in which I will thrive. I plan to be a lifelong member and am excited about my future and where the organization is going.
What words do I think of when I think of ARLIS/NA? Let's see... Some words that spring up include service, mentorship, community, and yes,... fun! ARLIS/NA's membership consists of engaging, interesting professionals in a friendly and supportive environment.
Librarian and Assistant Director
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
I first heard about ARLIS/NA as a library school student at Columbia University. My goal had been to work in art libraries after getting my graduate degree in art history, and I was pleased to find that there was a professional organization for art librarians. When the annual conference was held in New York City, I decided to attend. I recall how friendly and welcoming the conference attendees were to me--a young student. I felt right at home! After graduating from library school and working as a museum professional in New York City, I was encouraged by my colleagues and supervisors to be active in ARLIS, both nationally and in the local chapter.
ARLIS/NA provides the perfect opportunity to be active if you are an early, mid-career, or seasoned professional. You really can make a difference by participating in leadership roles, mentoring your colleagues, engaging in discussions with your peers, and presenting papers... and the end result is a fulfilling career and friendships with some fabulous people. While serving on the Executive Board and on a variety of committees, I saw firsthand how dynamic, smart, and selfless my colleagues are in an organization that relies on its professional volunteers.
I value the connections that I have made with ARLIS/NA members. When I have query or issue, I know that I can pose it on the list-serv, email my colleagues, or pick up the phone for an in-depth discussion. It's a great way to get a handle on standards, keep up to date with issues, and get advice from trusted colleagues. I feel fortunate to have wonderful ARLIS/NA colleagues and mentors and be a part of this organization.
Researching my PhD dissertation in many of Italy's finest libraries (the Vatican Library, the Marciana in Venice, the Reale in Turin and the Centrale in Florence), I had an epiphany: I didn't want to spend the rest of my life teaching and writing on one artist; I wanted to work in a collection like these and help people the way the librarians at these institutions were helping me. In short, I wanted to be an art librarian. So, upon finishing my doctorate (always finish what you start) I enrolled in library school part-time while working as an archivist. Mid-way through I got a job as an original cataloguer, chiefly of Italian language works, at the Frick Art Reference Library of the Frick Collection. I started in February in 2001; that April I attended my first ARLIS/NA conference.
The Menil Collection
Every new position I have taken has been a baptism with fire; when starting at the Frick I had never been a cataloguer and was thrown into advanced cataloguing and authority work; when I started at the New York School of Interior Design in 2004, I had never prepared a budget or managed a professional staff; when I began at the Menil Collection two years ago I had no experience working in such a deadline-driven institution where I was expected to work with departments as diverse as development, conservation and curatorial. However, I have never had trouble meeting the challenges that each of these new situations presented because ARLIS has given me a network of the very best, most generous professionals to consult.
The openness of ARLIS/NA members has enabled me to be a quick study at new jobs and on diverse projects, from starting a Friends of the Library group, to creating digital image databases, to working on museum-wide RFPs for collection management systems. For cataloguing problems I could talk to Sherman Clarke; visual resources issues, Margaret Webster; administrative issues, Pat Barnett. And I, a relative newcomer had such easy access to such people (all three have since won ARLIS/NA's Distinguished Service Award); through work, drinks at the conference bars, phone calls and emails I have met incredible colleagues and life-long friends.
And the help and friendships made through ARLIS have enhanced my scholarly work. When writing my book American Art Museum Architecture: Documents and Design (winner of the 2012 Worldwide Books Award for Publications at the Toronto Conference), I knew I could rely on ARLIS friends like Eumie Imm-Stroukoff, Carol Rusk, and Milan Hughston to give me the royal treatment in the libraries and archives of their institutions. Without such resources and great service, such a book could never be written.
I joined ARLIS/NA while a library science student and ARLIS/NA quickly became my most important source for professional development. My first conference was in Kansas City, where I sat next to a Distinguished Service Award recipient on the jazz club "pub crawl" bus and where I received a warm welcome from Texas Chapter colleagues who sought me out. The following year we met in Chicago where the 20th anniversary celebration was held at the aquarium. Some of our vendors sported lobster suits and I danced with a librarian whose articles I had read in library school only 18 month earlier. These experiences formed my impressions of ARLIS/NA as an organization filled with lively and welcoming individuals willing to take new members under their wings.
Architecture, Design, and Digital Services Librarian
UCLA Arts Library
ARLIS/NA membership has offered me opportunities to network with colleagues or vendors who generously share their expertise or insights. Conference attendance and participation has helped keep me updated with developments in the field and allowed me to develop leadership and presentation skills. I have served ARLIS/NA in various capacities and have found each opportunity rewarding. If you are called upon to serve--be it in a committee, section, or division, or as a presenter, mentor, chapter officer or board member: I encourage you to seize the opportunity. But no need to wait to be called: volunteer whenever you find something that piques your interest and consider starting a new Special Interest Group if you don't see a group addressing your needs!
I treasure the contacts I have made through this organization where I have also developed lifelong friends.
Michael A. Wirtz
When I was getting my MLS, if someone told me that in a few short years I would be an art librarian in Qatar, I would have said: "Awesome. I've always wanted to live in the South Pacific."
Design Research Librarian
Virginia Commonwealth University - Qatar
A couple years ago, I took a job as the Design Research Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University's branch campus in Doha, Qatar (not part of Polynesia, incidentally). I was never able to visit the campus during the interview process, so my first taste of Doha was on the first day of my contract. I arrived terrified. That first night, I remember walking out of the airport and hearing the automatic doors slide closed behind me. My glasses fogged up from the heat and the humidity, the air smelled like spices and car exhaust, it sounded like 1000 people were arguing in 1000 different languages, and my only thought was, "OMG, what have you done?"
Luckily, the answer turned out to be: "something pretty terrific." I love my job. We're not a huge library, so I get to do a little bit of everything--from circulation to systems (I stay away from cataloging). My primary assignment, however, is to work with the graduate students in the school's MFA program. Because I have an advanced degree in the arts, I also teach the masters-level design criticism course each spring. The students are great. My fellow faculty members are more than willing to collaborate, and the administration provides strong support of the library's endeavors.
The downside of working for an American university in the Middle East is the relative lack of interaction with like-minded professionals. In this regard, ARLIS has been a critical connection back to the profession. When I attended my first conference in Boston, I thought I would feel like an awkward outsider, but quickly found ARLIS to be full of people who were genuinely interested in what I was doing (or trying to do) and were eager to share their own experiences. I've also made great use of the incredible knowledge base that ARLIS members have built throughout the years. The information literacy competencies are my go-to document whenever I'm designing a new class or integrating information literacy into an existing curriculum.
My involvement in ARLIS is just beginning, but is quickly becoming a crucial part of my career as an art librarian. I'm just happy that it also happens to be so much fun. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in Toronto next year, even after the 16-hour flight.
How many kids announce that they want to be an art librarian when they grow up? Like so many individuals in our field, I didn't start out with that professional goal. Indeed, I wasn't even aware that that option existed until well into adulthood.
Metadata Coordinator, Minnesota Digital Library
University of Minnesota
After finishing my undergraduate degree, I attended the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture. I then worked in museum collection management and exhibit development. After almost ten years in the museum field, I reached a professional crossroads; and eventually I decided to attend library school as a means to broaden my professional skill set.
After researching the various programs, I decided on the University of British Columbia's School of Library, Archival & Information Studies. While in Vancouver, I was fortunate to work in the Fine Arts Library with Vanessa Kam. Vanessa was my first contact with ARLIS/NA.
This connection expanded when I became the recipient of the 2006 ARLIS/NA Internship. I completed my internship at the New York Public Library and then headed to Banff for the ARLIS/NA annual conference. While in Banff, I had the opportunity to meet many interesting and engaging individuals--ranging from other recent library school graduates to seasoned professionals.
My first post-library school job was working at Cornell University for Margaret Webster. It is no exaggeration to say that working for Margaret changed my professional life. As a past president of ARLIS/NA, she embodies so much of what I think ARLIS/NA represents: professionals helping professionals.
Margaret was a true mentor--one who actively sought professional opportunities for me, as well as encouraged my post-graduate learning and education. She helped me to become the library professional that I am today.
Since joining ARLIS/NA in 2006, I have found many ways to become involved at both the national and local levels. Today I am chair of the ARLIS/NA Internship Subcommittee and am co-vice moderator for the Visual Resources Division. I am also a member of the Local Planning Committee for the upcoming joint conference.
I maintain that joining ARLIS/NA isn't about going through the motions of signing another membership card, so much as it is about becoming a part of a large network of like-minded professionals. This network fosters a spirit of cooperation and also possesses an amazing capacity to welcome and make room for new members.
I started my career in visual resources librarianship halfway through my graduate program in library and information science at Kent State University, at a time when VR was entirely populated by degree-holders from art historical or humanities-based backgrounds. Indeed, my attractiveness as a candidate for my first position at The Ohio State University was primarily due to my pursuit of a degree in art librarianship—a real novelty at the time.
Visual Resources Librarian
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island
Visual Resources Library Director John Taormina, supervisor and mentor extraordinaire, understood the revolutionary changes that would soon take place in visual resources in an increasingly electronic environment that mimicked the profile and behavior of an art library: automation, data standards, shared records. John also recognized the need for a professionalization of practice, staffing levels, funding, etc., that could come only from a necessary alignment with libraries.
From the beginning I was encouraged to seek professional involvement, primarily with the Visual Resources Association but increasingly with the Art Libraries Society of North America. I still recall joint chapter meetings both in Michigan and Ohio that proved the close—and natural—connection between ARLIS/NA and VRA. My experience chairing a VRA bylaws review committee directly informed my capacity to serve on the ARLIS/NA assessment taskforce a few years ago.
When I left Columbus for Houston in 2000, I encountered a wonderfully collegial ARLIS/NA chapter in Texas that very ably performed double-duty for its visual resources members. I’m very proud that, during my decade there, both VRA and ARLIS/NA annual conferences came to Houston for the first times, to the benefit of all.
I had the pleasure of serving on the VRA executive board during the first joint conference with ARLIS/NA in St. Louis and again during planning for the upcoming joint conference in Minneapolis. As editor of the VRA Bulletin, I regularly seek articles that are authored by ARLIS/NA members and/or presented at the annual ARLIS/NA conference as a valuable source of publishable content.
My professional alignment of visual resources toward art librarianship has reached a new level in my recent hire at the Rhode Island School of Design. Library Director Carol Terry strongly supports visual resources as an equal and integral part of the library and our path toward digitization and development of new, non-text collections makes visual resources librarianship—with ARLIS/NA membership at the core—a truly rewarding and exciting experience.
I am relatively new to the profession of art librarianship, my background being in art history with concentrations on modern art, iconography, and social anthropology. From the very beginning, ARLIS/NA and its Midstates Chapter have been important in the development of my professional role as an art librarian.
Librarian & Midstates Chapter Secretary/Treasurer
Watanabe Family Library and Stephen & Sharon Zimmerman Resource Center,
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis
I joined ARLIS/NA along with my chapter in 2001 while attending B.J. Irvine's Seminar in Art Librarianship at IU Bloomington, and I immediately became an active member. From day one, my chapter membership provided me with a much needed local support system. The network of other art librarians was a fantastic resource. With their help, I was able to successfully develop the Watanabe Family Library while still a library science student. In the process, I forged friendships with several members.
After graduating in 2003 and then joining the staff at the Eiteljorg as the museum's first librarian, ARLIS/NA and my chapter--being the engaging and motivating organizations that they are--continued to play an important role in my professional and personal life. Presently, I am serving a third term as the Midstates' Secretary/Treasurer, and I am involved in the organization of this year’s conference. ARLIS-L, our listserv, helps me keep up-to-date on important issues within the profession, and its collective wisdom has been a source of advice and a resource for hard-to-track-down materials. Our conferences have been very enriching experiences, and the participants have made me feel part of an international community.
I am really looking forward to being a part of this year's Indianapolis conference and to show off all that our city has to offer, including the Eiteljorg Museum--the location of this year's Welcome Party.
Hope to see you all there!
My position as Head Librarian of Blackader Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art, McGill University, has led to a very rewarding career. I have seen many changes in the profession of art librarianship through the years and have always found it exciting and challenging.
Head Librarian of Blackader Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art
I have been a member of ARLIS/NA since 1985. Even at the beginning of my career as an art/architecture librarian, I found it important to attend the annual conference of this international association. Attending gave me the opportunity to meet colleagues from the United States, Canada, and Europe. Through workshops and presentations, I've learned from the expertise our colleagues demonstrate. Additionally, I've met book dealers and publishers, and I've forged good relationships to do my work as an art/architecture librarian.
Not only did I join ARLIS/NA--I've participated. I have worked on various committees throughout the years, including Co-chair of the 1995 Montreal Conference. Furthermore, for two years, I served on the Executive Board as the Chair of ARLIS Canada. A Canadian presence on the Board was of utmost importance to better represent the needs of our members "north of the border."
As a founding member of the ARLIS/NA MOQ Chapter, my interest in the flourishing of our local chapter was always of the utmost importance to me. I am proud of our chapter members' accomplishments as they, like me, gain experience and accomplish much in their roles of art librarianship.
We have seen many changes in the field over the years. The importance of electronic sources and the advent of even newer technologies such as Web 2.0, You Tube, and Facebook have driven change. In light of these changes, I co-moderated with Sarah Carter (Ringling College of Art and Design) the Denver conference session, "Visual Pedagogy: Do You See What I See?"
Evolving pedagogies provide exciting opportunities for art information professionals. It is important to keep abreast of technology and instruction trends as well as to develop future opportunities for art librarians and visual resource curators. Through cutting-edge technologies and teaching methods, we have an excellent opportunity to play an integral role in the development our users' visual literacy skills, many of whom do not yet possess the requisite skills.
I have been a member of ARLIS/NA since 1995, when I began working as a Fine Arts Librarian at Brigham Young University. Having previously worked in the area of Latin American studies, my main concern was that I would not find an organization that was so supportive and embracing as SALALM (Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials). To my comfort and good fortune, ARLIS/NA has filled that role beyond my expectations--it's where I continue to learn how to be an art librarian.
Fine Arts Librarian & Humanities Dept. Chair
Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University
While the annual conferences have offered such great exposure to current issues, practices, and general information about art librarianship, the most important aspect of ARLIS/NA to me has been the inspiration by the collective group. The conferences are not just about the sessions and workshops, but also about the visits to local institutions, the vendors, the exhibits, the conversations, the friendships, the opportunities, the belonging.
At the local level, I have truly appreciated my involvement in the Mountain West Chapter since its establishment in 1995. I have had several opportunities to serve in the chapter as president, secretary, webmaster, and online publisher of the Mountain Ledger newsletter. Despite being located in 7 different states, members of our chapter are dedicated, committed, and united. After participating in this year's 2008 Denver conference planning, I feel that my attachment to the chapter has become an extension of my professional job. It's been a great experience.
The most impressive aspect of ARLIS/NA is the individual passion that everyone has for what they do. That passion resonates throughout our society's collective commitment to support this engaging and motivating organization.
Dr. Elsa Barberena
Dr. Elsa Barberena, Professor of the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, UNAM, has had and continues to have a long and fruitful relationship with ARLIS/NA.
Professor of the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Mexican National Autonomous University (UNAM)
A member since 1980, Elsa has been active in several areas of the Society including the International Relations Committee, the North American Art Library Resources Committee, and the Reference and Information Services Section.
Elsa's unique perspective as a Mexican librarian and educator has enriched numerous ARLIS/NA annual conferences and Art Documentation articles. Additionally, Elsa's exemplary work in Latin American art led her to receive the Society's Howard & Beverly Joy Karno Award.
When asked, "What is the most important aspect of being an ARLIS/NA member?" Elsa responded, "The conferences and courses I have attended and the colleagues I met were invaluable in teaching me many of the specialized aspects of art librarianship and more so of the art information world."
Furthermore, Elsa wrote, "The art history courses I teach, at the Mexican National Autonomous University (UNAM) in Mexico City since 1992, deal precisely with the importance of information in the knowledge society (la sociedad del conocimiento)."
After graduating from Indiana University (2005) under the guidance of B.J. Irvine, successfully completing an internship at the Indianapolis Museum of Art & Fine Arts Library, and having a brief stint as a solo librarian at Brown College, I've settled down as a Reference Librarian for MINITEX Library Information Network.
MINITEX Library Information Network
MINITEX is a publicly supported network of academic, public, state government, and special libraries that cooperatively work together in order to improve library service for users in the tri-state region (MN, SD, ND). As a librarian's librarian, my primary responsibilities include handling reference questions from libraries across Minnesota as well as providing statewide training. Since my background is in art, I have the pleasure of usually being asked to work on art-related questions. These are often "antique roadshow" type inquiries, e.g. providing research and sources that assist in accurate art appraisals. In order to answer my queries, I use resources at the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, national and international sources, and the collective wisdom found on ARLIS/NA's listserv.
I also provide statewide, in-person or Web-based training for MINTEX's 15 different resources. I travel to schools, public libraries, universities, and even homeschooling groups to illustrate how to use the databases for their patrons. For example, if appropriate, I discuss what art historical information is in Academic Search Premier.
As a member of ARLIS/NA, I've found many ways to participate both at the local and national levels. In 2006, I was fortunate to be the first recipient of the ARLIS/NA Judith A. Hoffberg Award to attend the Banff conference, and, in Banff, I was a session panelist on "New Voices in the Profession: Student Papers on Art and Visual Resources Librarianship." In 2007, I attended ARLIS/NA's 35th annual conference, and I was a session speaker on "Backpack to Briefcase: Life after Library School." Currently, I am the Secretary/Treasurer for ARLIS Twin Cities. This amazing group of librarians welcomes all that are interested, and they often come to one's assistance with their various skills and knowledge. In fact, I've been able to continue my professional development by shadowing some of my ARLIS Twin City colleagues.
Being an ARLIS/NA member has allowed me ample opportunities to network, learn new reference resources, and share my story about creatively using art librarianship skills in various traditional and non-traditional positions.
I first learned about ARLIS/NA while taking B.J. Irvine's Art Librarianship course at Indiana University in 2005. She stressed the importance of joining the organization as a graduate student for many reasons, including networking opportunities, a reduced membership rate, and the potential to publish in Art Documentation as the Gerd Muehsam award winner. She also encouraged us to join the local Midstates chapter. I was fortunate enough to attend ARLIS/Midstates meetings by carpooling with other students in the program and enjoyed the experience of not only meeting new peers and colleagues, but making what I hope will be lifelong friendships.
Special Projects Student Assistant
University of Iowa
In April 2007, I had my first chance to attend the national conference in Atlanta. As a relatively new member, I relied on friends and mentors for advice on what sessions to attend and guidance on all things "conference-related." With their help, I felt at ease in what might have otherwise been an overwhelming environment. I was also able to get involved by helping to plan the pub crawl and serve as recorder for a session.
To me, ARLIS/NA represents not only a network of knowledgeable professionals willing to offer their experiences and advice to the newer members, but people who take a vested interest in shaping the future of the field. It is an exciting time to be an ARLIS/NA member, especially in light of the recent discussions on restructuring, new technologies, and the greater emphasis on recruitment of students and new professionals to the community through ArLiSNAP.
Stephen Allan Patrick
While in library school at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1975-76, everyone knew that I wanted to be an art librarian and they tried to accommodate me the best they could. Then one day in January 1976, a fellow student told me about this new library organization for art librarians: ARLIS/NA. I was elated and immediately inquired about membership. To my surprise I received a message shortly thereafter from Nancy Pistorius, who was then at Vanderbilt, inviting me to an organizational meeting in Nashville in May to establish an ARLIS / Kentucky-Tennessee Chapter. From that first charter meeting I was hooked! After graduating from UTK and moving to Greenville SC, I was contacted by the secretary of the ARLIS/Southeast Chapter. I attended my first SE meeting in December 1977 and have not missed an annual meeting since then. After moving back to Tennessee in 1982, I belonged to both the Southeast and Kentucky-Tennessee chapters (until the latter was dissolved in 1995).
Professor and Head, Documents/Law/Maps Department
Sherrod Library, East Tennessee State University.
(Member since spring 1976.)
Over the years I have proclaimed the virtues and benefits of ARLIS/NA far and wide, and have driven thousands of miles to attend chapter meetings from Indiana to Florida and from Louisiana to Virginia, frequently driving off the beaten path to pick up fellow members along the way. By the time I attended my first ARLIS/NA conference in Toronto in 1979, I was no longer an arts librarian, but one of those outsiders: a documents librarian. As a result, I used my vacation time and my own funds to attend ARLIS/NA conferences. But it didn't matter since ARLIS/NA conferences have been my guilty pleasure. I found ways to contribute, serving on committees and editing the "New Docs in SuDocs" column in the ARLIS/NA Newsletter and Art Documentation for 15 years. I even had the pleasure of being Program Chair of the 24th ARLIS/NA Conference in Miami Beach in 1996.
My connection to ARLIS/NA still runs deep after 32 years of membership, having served ARLIS/Southeast as officer and both unofficially and officially as chapter historian, and initiating the LoPresti Art Publishing Award. In 2001, after twenty-five years of consecutive chapter attendance, my colleagues honored me with Lifetime Membership in the Chapter!
It is to my fellow ARLIS/NA colleagues and friends that I owe a debt of gratitude and a career filled with accomplishments never dreamed of while in library school. ARLIS/NA provided me with opportunities to gain experience in public speaking, publishing, and professional service. What other organization can you join as a member and gain a family for life? To all of my friends in ARLIS/NA I thank you for all of the joy and camaraderie you have given me over the years and it is with great pride that I have created the ARLIS/NA Timeline for our 35th Anniversary in Atlanta.
When I moved to Canada from the UK, I joined ARLIS/NA straight away. To make contacts and find out about jobs, of course, very important when starting a career or making a transition. But then over time other kinds of opportunity opened up through ARLIS/NA...
Head of Collections & Database Management
National Gallery of Canada Library
Opportunities for training and professional development, for example; opportunities to publish articles; and for involvement at the local level, through the chapters, as well as at the Society level. When I worked in London there was a great concentration of art libraries in one place but surprisingly little coordination or collaboration. ARLIS/NA was an eye-opener - such a terrific support system distributed across an entire continent. It's not the only group I belong to but it is the main one, and I like the way it has circles that intersect with other circles. For example, I look after the catalogue and the WebOPAC, and within ARLIS/NA I can find other museums that use the same software as we do, and explore how they make the most of it in dealing with art resources. Given the changes in our profession, there are fewer and fewer areas where an institution can simply focus on its own activity and ignore developments in the field at large. So membership in ARLIS/NA has become a tool that helps me do my job more effectively.
I have been a member of ARLIS/NA since 1988, and, even though art librarianship is just a part of my responsibilities as Arts and Humanities Reference Librarian, in my experience ARLIS/NA offers conferences with a wide variety of relevant sessions that are useful not just for art librarianship, but also for other parts of my job.
Arts and Humanities Reference Librarian
University of Denver
Discussions about the hidden Internet, information literacy, copyright, technological advancements, and digital resources are the same issues discussed at ACRL, but rather than ten sessions on a variation of a theme, the one or two sessions at ARLIS/NA on a topic tend to be of very high quality and very informative. Some of the specialized sessions at ARLIS/NA actually have content which does translate into other disciplines: for example, services for and strategies to help studio artists can be used as templates to address needs of other types of practicing artists, such as creative writers, dancers, and actors. The means of helping such populations are not addressed at other types of conferences.
In 2000, I was given the responsibility of purchasing the foreign language materials for literature - we don't purchase very much for art - and made contact with the vendors I use for French, Italian and German literatures at the annual conferences and was able to discuss with them what I wanted to accomplish with our literary collections.
The sessions at ARLIS/NA tend to be very balanced, so that I don't feel I'm hearing yet another session on information literacy but instead am seeing through this focus on a specific kind of librarianship a larger picture about the practices and theories and responsibilities of our profession. I continue to find the conferences I attend invaluable for my development as a librarian overall as well as my specific responsibilities for the art and art history department.
D. Vanessa Kam
I have been a member of ARLIS/NA since 2000. Its conferences and publications have provided a number of avenues for my development as a professional. The networking opportunities at conferences are unbeatable and have contributed to ongoing collegial relationships with peers around the country and beyond. Some sessions have been memorable and even inspiring, such as the Diversity Forum that took place in Baltimore in 2003. Committee work can be particularly rich in ARLIS/NA, and my involvement in the Public Policy Committee has broadened my awareness of how pieces of legislation come about and how policies can have a critical impact on libraries and access to information. Art Documentation, as the society's journal, offers fine opportunities for publishing, working with a great editorial staff, and for expanding one's knowledge of the field.
Fine Arts Librarian
University of British Columbia
But perhaps the most rewarding elements of being a member of ARLIS/NA and attending its conferences are the things that happen outside of formally scheduled meetings and meeting places. A conversation during an airport shuttle ride offered me a window into the work life of an engaging librarian at a seminal urban museum library. Another librarian took me and a trio of others down memory lane in a personal car while offering insights into growing up in Los Angeles and the tribulations of playing in an almost-famous rock 'n' roll band. Several members and supporters of the Diversity Committee gathered around a hotel lobby and discussed a vision of the committee that still motivates me. And side by side lap swimming in a conference site pool with fellow swimming librarians has played a critical part in my development. The list goes on and I look forward to augmenting it.
B.J. Kish Irvine, Ph.D.
As I have been telling my students for over 30 years, membership in
ARLIS/NA IS how you become a fully engaged professional! It provides
opportunities for critical networking with colleagues in North America
and other countries as well, for meeting and working with art publishers
and distributors of diverse print, electronic, and multi-media
resources, and for learning about what is happening NOW in our
profession and for meaningful continuing education sessions and
workshops. ARLIS/NA has helped to nourish and sustain my career and I am
most greatful for the contributions the Society has made to my
professional life as an art librarian and educator.
Fine Arts Librarians
ARLIS/NA has been part of my professional and personal life since I was coming out of library school in 1973. Judy Hoffberg and others provided a framework for us to grow and prosper as professionals and friends. The people I worked with in ARLIS/NA also provided connections to the College Art Association, the American Library Association, the Society of Architectural Historians, and the Visual Resources Association. We catalogers in ARLIS/NA soon established discussion groups that have survived and thrived since the early conferences. Our mail round robins of the early days have fallen away but the discussion groups linger on. I can still picture being in the convocation hall in Washington (1975), talking to Chris Huemer, Carol Mandel and some others about the need for another cataloging subgroup about classification. They said "do it!" It was that "do it" attitude that got us started and keeps us going. But ARLIS/NA has not only been about professional connections and getting things done and questions answered, even more fundamentally it's about making the friends that provide those connections and answers, and sustain us.
Head of Original Cataloging
New York University Libraries
I clearly remember the day I discovered that ARLIS/NA existed. I was conducting some research in the Library Science Library in 1977 while a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill and ran across an item in a periodical describing the Society. I thought, "Perfect! That's the group for me." Being a member of ARLIS/NA for over 20 years has truly been rewarding, not only for the services provided through publications and conferences but most importantly, the Society has enabled me to develop and sustain important personal relationships with an engaging group of professionals. From my first professional position as an assistant reference librarian at a small liberal arts college in the south, to my many years heading architecture and now arts (including music and film) libraries in large public universities, ARLIS/NA has been the most important organization supporting my development as an information professional. So many times I have said to my non-art colleagues how lucky I was to have a vital, focused (and not with an overwhelming number of members) organization to belong to. Indeed, I never felt "lost" at an ARIS/NA conference. Over the years I have had many opportunities to "give back" by serving on committees and the Board, by participating as a speaker. As we enter the 21st century, I believe ARLIS/NA will continue to help us navigate and address the tremendous changes in our work places, the information environment, and within our constituencies. Our success will very much be due to the collective efforts of this extraordinary membership.
Head, University of California, San Diego Arts Libraries
One of the things I love best about my career, and about being a member of ARLIS/NA, is the willingness of art librarians to help one another and their desire to see their colleagues succeed. When I was an undergraduate working in an art and architecture library, I was struck by how much the librarians seemed to enjoy their work, to value their colleagues, and to promote their professional organization.
Archivist of the Eero Saarinen Collection
Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Memorial Library
After making the decision to go to library school - I had learned through observation that art librarianship was a great career - the first thing I did was join ARLIS/NA as a student member and attend an annual conference. The overwhelming sense of welcome and acceptance as a professional colleague that I received from ARLIS/NA members across the board was immensely gratifying for me, and the selfless mentoring that I have received over the years from so many generous ARLIS/NA members makes me feel honored to be a member of this organization and this profession.
It is very educational to read the ARLIS/NA listserv and incorporate the expertise of other art librarians and archivists into my own work; it is professionally rewarding to have been able to publish research and serve in a leadership capacity at an early stage in my career; and it is terrific on a personal level to be able to get to know colleagues from institutions all over the country - and indeed, all over the world - at conferences that are just big enough to be interesting and worthwhile, but small enough that I never feel lost in the crowd. I appreciate everything ARLIS/NA has done for me as an art information professional, and I hope to continue to contribute to ARLIS/NA in kind in the future.
In 1976, not long after moving to Southern California, and shortly after I started working at the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) in Los Angeles, I was introduced to Eleanor Hartman, at the time the Head Librarian the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA), which was across the street from CAFAM. The CAFAM Library was tiny--about 300 books--but I had some ideas about developing it, and Eleanor encouraged me and told me about ARLIS/NA, then less than five years old, and about the local chapter. Judy Hoffberg, the first ARLIS/NA Executive Director, lived in L.A. and was planning the 1977 conference, which was to be in L.A. I hadn't yet come to know the city very well and the 1977 conference and the people that I met there (both Southern California librarians and librarians from large and small museums and other institutions all over North America) really changed my life. Judy had planned a wonderful meeting and fabulous tours and I got to know my newly adopted city from the perspective of its art and architecture.
Since then, I've been to every ARLIS conference but one. I retired in 2002 but I still look forward to every year's conference, the chance to update my knowledge of art and libraries and get behind-the-scenes tours of beautiful and unusual collections, collectors' homes, and historic sites. The range of topics covered both in tours and sessions is incredibly varied and librarians representing every size and type of collection are speakers and presenters. Just as delightful is catching up with friends with whom one can share the highs and lows of the past year and colleagues who may have ideas or suggestions you can use or simply an abundance of contagious energy. And what fun I've had at ARLIS--at big, lavish receptions and at late-night dinners with a few old friends.
Through ARLIS/NA and ARLIS/Southern California, I've had a chance to plan programs, lead meetings, coordinate a conference, edit publications, and write articles and book reviews. I've learned about technology, space planning, conservation, copyright, archives, visual resources, media arts, and other topics, which I could not have learned about easily on my own. In fact, because of ARLIS' support, I was able to take more of a leadership role at CAFAM, assisting at the museum level with space planning, computerization, and grant-writing, in addition to developing the CAFAM Library into a regional information center for contemporary craft, folk art, and design with a research collection of over 7,000 volumes. When CAFAM closed temporarily in 1997 and the library collection had to be given away (it was given to LACMA), I was able to call on ARLIS colleagues and shortly had offers from eight major art institutions.
Working at CAFAM for 21 years and then for five years at LACMA, and now, in "retirement," taking on the editing of a collection of essays on art museum librarianship, most written by ARLIS members, my adventures with ARLIS continue to unfold and the end is not yet in sight!
In 1989 I became head of the Creswell Library of Islamic Art and Architecture at the American University in Cairo. One of the first things I did was to become a member of ARLIS/NA. My research showed ARLIS/NA to be THE association for arts information, and my membership put me in contact, albeit very long distance, with issues and concerns in arts librarianship.
Head, Architecture Library
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Today I am head of the University of Nevada Architecture Studies Library, and my need for and appreciation of ARLIS/NA remains undiminished. And I have found an unexpected bonus: when I attend meetings not related to the arts I always know someone (an ARLIS/NA member) that works with the meeting attendees. I love that "small world" feeling! Thanks ARLIS/NA!
I have been a member of ARLIS/NA since 1987 and I consider it the most important professional organization to which I belong. I treasure the many benefits it offers to me but most important are the many friends and colleagues I have acquired during the past eighteen years. ARLIS/NA membership offers me the opportunity of networking with other Art Librarians and Library Directors. This is in addtion to gaining valuable insight into new technologies, information literacy; artists creative efforts, management issues, collection development, library instruction, digital imaging, and numerous other topics.
Director of Library Programs
Institute of American Indian Arts
This organization offers me the unique opportunity for growth as an Art Librarian and Library Director... through participation as a presentor at conferences, committee chair, committee member, attendance at Annual Conferences, mentor to new Art Librarians, writing book reviews and articles for Art Documentation, and most importantly networking with others who hold the same regard for ARLIS/NA. I thank the ARLIS/NA Headquarters personnel and the Executive Board for their continued committment to excellence for this organization in all that it does.
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