Bye bye #42 and Hello #43

So it’s one month since ARLIS/NA #42 and my life is back to normal. For me that means work and summer classes, and pondering the issues of arts librarianship. Washington DC invigorated and affirmed me, and yet, also challenged me with the realization that I have ALOT to learn. And since I have a small role on the planning committee for the 2015 conference, I now know we have a big act to follow. As a regional chapter travel award recipient, I was required to write a post-conference report for the chapter’s newsletter. I decided to post it here as well. Although it’s geared for the TX-MX audience, Arlisnappers may enjoy references both general and specific to themselves throughout. I encourage all students and new professionals to apply for their respective chapter travel awards for next year. You won’t regret it!

ARLIS/NA 2014 Conference Report, Washington, DC


If you had run into me on the first day of ARLIS/NA 2014, I think there would be no doubt as to the amount of excitement and nervous anticipation that I exuded. I was practically giddy just to be in Washington DC for my first ARLIS/NA conference. From the moment I knew that I would definitely be attending, I was scouring the conference schedule, planning how to get the most out of every session, workshop, and tour. It was frustrating to be sure! I must have changed my mind at least a half dozen times. There were just too many concurrent and/or overlapping events that piqued my curiosity to make it all doable without cloning myself. I will attempt to recap the highlights, although it will not fairly encompass the fun I also had in chance conversations and in friendships established from collegial rapport.

My conference began with the Society of the Cincinnati Tour on Thursday morning, followed by the Mentoring workshop in the afternoon. I was pleased to see this late add-on tour as my conference duties precluded attendance at any others. As a small tour group of five, we were treated to an intimate visit to the collection vault. One of the tour participants agreed to serve as my recorder for my session the next day.  That was such a relief since I had attempted and failed to secure one prior to the conference! Afterwards, the workshop focused my goals in arts librarianship and paired me with Canadian librarian Jennifer Garland as my mentor. I am looking forward to a productive year to come with her guidance. Dinner with fellow first-time attendees Courtney Baron and Anna-Sophia Zingarelli-Sweet familiarized me with Penn Quarter as we enjoyed Mexican inspired fare and lively comparisons of our respective library schools and work experiences.

On Friday morning, I moderated the session Meet the Policy Experts, and then attended Pro amore liborum: Rare Book and Special Collections Librarianship in the afternoon. I mingled with several of the Texas contingency at our chapter meeting. Unfortunately, I missed the First Time Attendees’ Reception, but Friday night, after a visit and dinner with relatives in the area, I hung out with the ArLiSNAP (Art Library Students and New ARLIS Professionals) crowd at Capitol City Brewery across from the Grand Hyatt. Surrounded by some dangerously smart students as well as a few more mature, but no less enthusiastic professionals, I was delighted to finally meet in person some online friends that I have been communicating and collaborating with as a Discussion Liaison over the past year in ArLiSNAP. See

I volunteered for Exhibits set-up on Saturday morning early and although most of the work had already been completed by that time, I had a fortuitous encounter with a past ARLIS/NA President, Ted Goodman, who gave me a crash course in exhibits management. I couldn’t have received it from anyone more experienced or more versatile in this area! It was the perfect initiation for duties I will have in Fort Worth next year. I later wandered through the Eastern Market and found myself at Capitol Hill Books – the layout of which was both a treasure hunter’s dream and a librarian’s nightmare!

And yes, of course I bought a book there! After a Metro adventure back to the hotel, I enjoyed Retooling Art Reference and Information Services: Collaborative Tools, Strategies, and Models, and later, the Emerging Technology Forum. Following a spin through the Exhibit Hall and Posters, it was off to the Convocation and Reception at the Library of Congress, or as Susan Stamberg referred to it during her keynote address, “the Mothership” – a truly inspiring evening that I will always associate with an incredible experience.

I jumped up Sunday morning for an 8am ArLiSNAP business meeting and then sandwiched the Membership Brunch and Meeting between morning and afternoon sessions Collaborating to Achieve and Activist Outreach in the Book Arts. A pleasant surprise on Sunday evening occurred when I happened upon fellow chapter members on their way to dinner for an informal planning meeting for 2015. Together we digested the enormity of the task before us along with some excellent seafood. Thanks for inviting me along, ladies!

Is it any wonder that I was completely exhausted by the time I got home Monday afternoon? I had a fabulous time start to finish. My brain is still processing all the new information and ideas, yet I feel more clearly focused in the direction I want to go in future coursework and in dedication to finishing my degree in 2015. It was such a pleasure to meet, talk to, and learn from so many interesting people and to get to know some of our chapter members a little bit better. I cannot neglect to thank Cheryl Payne from MFAH for agreeing to be my roommate, although we had never met previously. My experience would not have been possible without the ARLIS/NA-TXMX chapter’s generous support, for which I am truly grateful. I look forward to seeing everyone again at the fall meeting in Orange, TX, and of course, for more artful adventures!

Alison A. Larson

MLS student, UNT

Art Reference, Weekend Operations, Baylor University, Crouch Fine Arts Library

Lois Swan Jones Travel Award Winner, 2014


And so, with that, we move forward to #43 in Fort Worth! Don’t forget that proposal deadline is in 12 short days!

 An exciting NEW idea has emerged in the past month among the ArLiSNAP Liaison crew regarding an “unconference” session proposal. This session would focus on current trends/hot topics in arts librarianship and be lead by ArLiSNAP Canadian Liaison Allana Mayer. She needs your brainstorming minds FAST! In these last few days before the proposal is due, you have the chance to submit your thoughts and ideas for this session by replying to this post. ArLiSNAP has also put out a call for a Conference Planning Liaison to assist Allana in this project. Be a part of what we hope will be groundbreaking new frontiers!



2 Comments on “Bye bye #42 and Hello #43”

  1. ellenjt says:

    Sounds like a great time, Alison! I agree, way too many interesting things to see and do for one person. I thought I would share a few things I picked up…

    Did you know, the Khan Academy also produces Art History instructional videos? So many fantastic videos, from ancient civilizations to more modern collections, presented like a conversation between art historians. Gotta love free educational tools!

    Eamon Tewell shared the results of his survey of art librarians regarding their career paths:
    ⁃ 57% have a 2nd Masters degree (52% of which are in art history, 16% in studio art, 11% in architecture, and others)
    ⁃ A few nuggets of advice from current art librarians: “Be prepared to move for your first professional post”; “Networking will increase your confidence in the field”.

    Lots of sad news from our Canadian representatives about funding cuts for Library & Archives Canada (LAC), our federal institution for documenting Canadian heritage.
    ⁃ One encouraging bit of news: the severely restricting code of conduct for LAC (which condemned speaking at conferences as a “high risk” activity – ?????) has since been revised due to pressure from LAC staff, other Canadian librarians, and the media! The current code of conduct still unfortunately encourages employees to report on one another, but, among other things, they will no longer be disciplined for expressing personal opinions in limited access forums. Great to see that speaking out collectively can make a difference! (…sometimes! Still many issues we need to work on.)

    I’m interested to hear what ideas people have for the unconference session! What do you think are the most important topics for students and new professionals today?


  2. allanaaa says:

    I tried to liveblog a lot of the conference content on my tumblr, because my handwritten-notetaking skills are pretty abysmal right now … In short, I had a ton of thoughts about a ton of subjects.

    There were several sessions on MOOCs, makerspaces, and other alternative forms of education that libraries can participate in. After taking my first MOOC this spring, I have some ideas about how to allow for both structured core content and some independent work (like having the first half of the class be core concepts and the second half separate into streams, with online discussion with the other students in your stream; then, a final exam that gives you a chance to write an essay on your chosen stream-topic).
    As for makerspaces, I loved the People’s Library concept: discarded books, old paper (sometimes old legal records and documents), weeds from the schoolyard, etc., are made into new paper, which the community then turns into small handmade books telling their own stories. Once the project was incorporated into a free legal-aid clinic where people came to expunge their old criminal records and then physically destroy / repurpose the paper documentation. Totally worth checking out.

    The “Canada’s Documentary Heritage” session that Ellen mentions had a few interesting points: one, that lots of institutions are willing to pick up LAC-BAC’s slack in terms of using their materials (borrowing them for exhibits) or buying up important heritage materials that come up for auction. I’m not suggesting that decentralizing is a good idea (it has huge problems in terms of the “whose responsibility is it?” question) but I am heartened to see that there is push-back.

    And, as always, I obsess over copyright. Tons of copyright content that made me think: about how to codify “riffing” as a parody-like appropriation (homage, plagiarism, or fair use?); about clarifying “good faith” use by libraries, especially as pertains to orphaned works; about expanding “research and private study” (as we currently are in Canada) to encompass a genuinely contemporary idea of how culture gets used and consumed. Etc., yadda yadda.