ARLIS/NA + VRA 3rd Joint Conference (ARLIS/NA 44th Annual Conference), Seattle, Washington
Convocation Program Presentation, 2016
2015 ARLIS/NA DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD Acceptance Speech, by Ann Baird Whiteside; DSA ceremony held at the Westin Seattle, March 11, 2016
Thank you Mark and Jolene for your lovely introduction. I will say that it is a bit overwhelming. In fact, when I received an email message from Kristen Regina and Elaine Paul in early January telling me that I was this year’s recipient of both the ARLIS/NA and VRA Distinguished Service Awards, I had to re-read the email four times to make sure that it was truly addressed to me. I was on the Boston subway at the time, reading the emails of the afternoon—dealing with faculty needing access to course sites, budget questions, the usual emails—and there was this message. I was sure the email was sent to me in error. When I realized it really was addressed to me, my first thought was “How Amazing”. I have been in awe and delight since. To receive these two awards at the same time from one’s peers is truly the best and highest compliment one can receive. And for these awards to be given here at this joint conference reflects so perfectly on my own work on collaborative efforts across both organizations. It is also a tribute to our two organizations here in Seattle at this time. I am so honored and indebted to ARLIS/NA and to VRA.
I want to thank the group of colleagues who instigated the nomination—Mark Pompelia, Jolene de Verges, and Sherman Clarke—and those who wrote letters in support of my nomination. All of you have been my close colleagues and friends for a very long time. Thank you to the DSA Awards Committee chairs of both organizations, Laurel Bliss and Margaret Webster, and their recommendations for my nomination. And thank you to the boards of ARLIS/NA and VRA for approving the awards, especially the presidents, Elaine Paul and Kristen Regina. And thank you to all the members of ARLIS/NA and VRA, you are what makes our organizations so fantastic and you provide the support that makes us excellent professionals.
Those who have been the backbone for me through my career are my family and friends, and I cannot imagine doing anything I’ve done without them. My husband John, here tonight, has always been there with love and support while I work on different projects and travel. Thank you, John, for your support and your patience with my unending supply of new projects. Our children, Leah and David, grew up with ARLIS/NA and VRA; and they know two important things: that art and architecture librarians and visual resources professionals are the center of the information world, and that we have great parties.
My passion about art and architecture librarianship and the visual resources profession was fueled by my first conferences at ARLIS/NA and VRA. At each of those first conferences, I listened to people talking about interesting topics, about how we could make our work better, provide better access to information, how we could provide new kinds of services; and there is an ethos—the deep sense of how important our work is to our institutions and to our society. As I became more deeply involved through volunteering, it fueled my passion for our work.
Through my association with our two organizations, I have amassed an amazing number of mentors, colleagues, and friends. Each of you has been inspirational and have helped to push me forward as a professional. From my first committees—the ARLIS/NA Collection Development Committee, where I volunteered for a project at my first meeting, and the VRA Data Standards Committee, where we developed the VRA Core and a host of other astonishing initiatives, I have been supported and encouraged by the people in our organizations to be creative, imaginative, and to do things I would never have imagined doing. And I have taken that passion and drive back and forth between my libraries and our organizations.
As I progress in my career, I continue to be excited by the changes in our profession, changes driven by technology, but also by changes in higher education and how people learn and do research. As information professionals, we are a critical part of the infrastructure of our cultural heritage institutions. We can lead the changes required to meet the needs of researchers today by continuing to think outside the box about how we support the users of our collections. We also have the opportunity to take the collaboration skills required in a digital world, and use those skills to develop partnerships with scholars to partner in and support their work.
One of the most important things I have learned through my work with all of you and in my institutional homes is the importance of collaboration with stakeholders. Gathering the stakeholders for any project is the primary key to success. It takes time, it takes energy, and it takes political will to bring people along, to try new things, to develop a new model or service. It also takes patience. I am not a naturally patient sort of person, so the development of these skills has been my personal challenge. And yet, over and over, I find that when these skills are utilized, the outcomes are far and beyond the original goal and expectation. Through the process of collaboration, one builds relationships as well as supportive allies, in addition to successful outcomes. And those who have been part of the process like the outcome as well. These skills are critical to the success of just about everything that I do in my work.
For those of you here tonight that are new librarians or first time attendees, like many before me, I encourage you to use this conference to meet people, to attend committee meetings and to participate in the lives of these organizations; test out your ideas on your colleagues here; use your collaboration skills. You will find support and encouragement and joy that you are here. There are many opportunities in our organizations to become involved and through our organizations you will develop life-long skills and collaborations in and across your institutions, as well as mentors and friends who will be with you for your career. I cannot imagine two more collegial organizations to participate in.
As part of the process of becoming used to the honor of being a Distinguished Service Award recipient, I went to the ARLIS/NA and VRA websites to look at past recipients. What one sees in those two lists is that each recipient has helped to shape our profession and our organizations and to push us along paths we may not have chosen on our own. Each has had a vision for what our profession can be, and each individual has made important contributions to the field. It is truly humbling to be among this august group of colleagues.
In closing I want to thank all the people with whom I have worked in ARLIS/NA and VRA—on the two boards, on the various committees, and on the many projects we have taken on and launched. There are too many of you to name as individuals, and you should all know who you are. I will always treasure the work we’ve done together, what you have all taught me, and my experiences in these wonderful organizations. And, there is so much more to do!
Thank you so very much for this dual honor.