What our Members Are Saying: Beth Goodrich


Name: Beth Goodrich
Title: Librarian
Library: Institution American Craft Council

What do you love about your work?

What I find to be the most satisfying aspect of my job is that it presents a constant flow of learning opportunities. I am a solo librarian, so I am responsible for all elements of our collection, which means I have had to polish all of my skills in collection management, from cataloging and digital collections curation to archives management, digital preservation, donor relations, grant writing, and this list goes on. 

Our collection is very specifically focused on contemporary American craft. While I have a background in the arts, I didn't know much about the field of craft when I took this job, so I had much to learn about contemporary studio craft, the history and the artists. I learn something new every day which keeps the work exciting and fresh. 

What are you working on now that you’re proud of?

At the end of 2020 I began publishing a quarterly library email newsletter highlighting the work we do, specific projects that library staff are working on, overlooked resources or new discoveries in our collection, new acquisitions, and online resources from other repositories that might be of interest to our audience. It has been a very important outreach tool, particularly during the past two years of pandemic restrictions, and we have had a very positive response to the content. Our mailing list is close to 10,000 which is very gratifying considering it is an opt-in mailing list. I'm fortunate to have access to a marvelous communications team that makes the newsletter very visually appealing.

What sorts of ARLIS-related projects have you worked on? Is there something in particular that you found meaningful?

I am the co-coordinator of the Decorative Arts, Craft and Design SIG, along with Beth Hylen. The previous librarian at the ACC had been serving as co-coordinator of the SIG, and when I took over the ACC librarian position in 2017, I stepped in to lead the SIG as well. I have really enjoyed working with the group; Beth and I have tried to keep members engaged by moving to quarterly meetings, and planning some programming with each meeting. The SIG was previously known as the Decorative Arts SIG, and name didn't seem to fit well with some members. We led a discussion with the SIG to consider a new name that would be more inclusive of the many adjacent topics and interests represented among the members of the group -- craft, design, folk art, material culture. We hope expanding the scope of the interest group would better encompass the interests of current members and attract some new members.

How is anti-racist work part of your professional life? How could ARLIS better support and challenge you in this work?

I am grateful that the American Craft Council as an organization has made a commitment to anti-racist work, and pushed all staff to actively participate in such work. I am fully supported to pursue anti-racist work, and in fact am challenged organizationally to do more and do better.

Tell us about the kind of library you work in. What do you wish other librarians understood about the kind of library you are in? What makes it great? What makes it challenging?

I define the ACC library as a special library, but unlike most other special libraries, use of our resources is not limited to staff or membership. We make our resources freely available to the public, regardless of membership status.

The challenge is getting the word out that the library exists. We are a national organization, and the library has an international patronage, but we are much more visible online than onsite. We often hear from our Minneapolis neighbors that they didn't know we were located here. So much of my reference service is provided remotely, but I would love for more people to come see the lovely space we have and spend an afternoon immersed in serendipitous discovery.

How many years have you been a librarian/worked in libraries? What is the biggest change you have experienced in your career thus far?

I came to librarianship as a second career. I received my MLIS in 2013, and worked in the public library sector for seven years. Since beginning graduate school I knew that I wanted to find a career that would marry librarianship with the arts. The position as librarian at the ACC is a dream job and the best possible fit for me. I went from working in a large public library system employing hundreds of staff with very specific roles to working as a solo librarian in a very small, very lean arts organization where I have to manage all aspects of the library and archives. That was a huge shift for me in how I think about the work. I have learned that I don't have to be the expert on everything. But the commitment to public service is something I learned in public libraries and that I strive to put forward always.