Hack Your MLIS Program: Visual Resources Librarianship

Hi Arlisnappers! After a yearlong absence, I am back on the blog as a feature post writer and excited to be a part of the ArLiSNAP team once again. I recently graduated with my MLIS and I currently work as the Director of Visual Resources at the University of Georgia.

In April 2014, I shared my tips for hacking your MLIS program to focus on art librarianship. Now I’m back with a better-late-than-never follow-up on how I hacked my MLIS program to prepare for my career in visual resources librarianship. We have discussed how to plan your coursework so you are prepared to manage digital collections before, and this post will focus specifically on what you need to manage visual resources collections.

Visual Resources Center, Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia. Image courtesy of Courtney Baron.

Visual Resources Center, Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia. Image courtesy of Courtney Baron.

What is visual resources librarianship?

Visual resources librarianship is a bit different from art librarianship, though the two fields require similar skills and educational backgrounds. I have worked as a full-time visual resources professional for one year now, so I have a good idea of what the profession involves and what is required to do the job successfully. That being said, each position is unique depending on the needs of the institution. Visual resources professionals historically functioned as slide librarians, usually in art/art history departments or libraries. Now, we primarily manage digital image collections, though slide collections still exist at many institutions, and assist faculty and students with their image needs. We may also manage public visual resources spaces that range from digital scanning and projects labs to libraries with circulating materials.

Become involved in VRA

The Visual Resources Association (VRA) is smaller than ARLIS, but equally as welcoming. Hands down, this is the best way to get – and stay – connected to the field, especially if you are one of the few people in your program interested in art and visual resources librarianship. Not only do you have access to a large network of art and visual resources professionals, but you can also follow news, concerns, and trends on the VRA listserv. I encourage you to be active on the listserv as well since name recognition can help you in your job search later on! Seriously – my predecessor was very active, and I get asked about him all the time. If you have been involved with ARLIS but haven’t yet ventured into VRA, there is a joint conference next year in Seattle, WA, so it will be an opportune time to check out both organizations and annual conferences. There is also a similar group to ArLiSNAP called vreps – visual resources association emerging professionals and students – that you should join. The VRA Bulletin is the journal of the association and each issue contains a wealth of information about current issues and practices in the field.

Focus coursework and projects on visual resources topics

As I said in part one, the best way to ensure you are getting a similar education to a MLIS program that does offer an art librarianship track is to see which courses they require and which electives they offer. I also recommend looking at similar tracks, such as digital content/asset management or archives. I recommend courses on the following topics, since they relate to visual resources: humanities information services, digital libraries, descriptive cataloging and metadata, database design, digital humanities, and digital archives. Basically, looks for classes that focus on metadata, technologies, databases, and managing or curating digital archives, libraries, and other collections. These classes will give you an overview of the information you need and you can focus your projects and papers specifically on arts and humanities topics.

Independent study

In part one, I discussed an independent study on art and visual resources librarianship that I designed as an elective in my MLIS program. If you would like more information on that, I’m happy to share my syllabus and course projects in a later post.

This time, I’m focusing on what you can do independently outside of coursework to build some of the skills you need to work in visual resources.

Photography, Photoshop, and Lightroom 

Knowledge of photography, especially editing software, is very helpful for managing image collections. I still have a lot to learn about photography, but I have heard that ShootFlyShoot has fantastic photography classes. Why is this important? So you understand how the images you work with are produced, and you can produce images if required. Some visual resources positions require original photography of works of art, either from works in museum or galleries, or from faculty and student work. I do not produce original photography in my current position, but I do a lot of scanning, and knowledge of photographic editing techniques is essential. I use Adobe Photoshop, and recommend Photoshop Classroom in a Book to learn the basics of using Photoshop. The book has a disc with tutorials and sample images to practice editing. Adobe Lightroom is a simpler and easier way to edit images and is preferred over Photoshop by some visual resources professionals.

Metadata

Just like a library book would be lost without a catalog record, images would be lost without good metadata. I believe that metadata is perhaps the most important part of managing image collections. After all, what’s the point of having a collection if your content cannot be easily found? Just as there are cataloging standards and formats for cataloging books, archival materials, etc., these also exist for visual resources collections. Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO) is a content standard for visual resources collections (comparable to RDA) and VRA Core is a metadata schema used to describe images (comparable to MARC). If you have access to Adobe Bridge, you can download the VRA Core panel and practice creating metadata for images. It’s also essential to be familiar with the Getty vocabularies, which are now available as Linked Open Data. The vocabularies will give you the structured terminology for art, architecture, and other materials and are essential tools for the proper cataloging of images.

Image resources

Working in visual resources doesn’t just mean managing image collections. There is a reference and instruction component. You must be able to help others find and locate images using subscription databases, institutional image collections, and free resources on the web. The most popular subscription database for images is Artstor Digital Library. If the institution where you attend school or work does not have a subscription, you can still check out the website or YouTube videos to learn more about how the database works and how to use it. There is a section with free guides, including subject-specific guides, and studying these is an excellent way to increase your knowledge of this resource.

Visual resources professionals manage institutional image collections or archives. These collections can include images from faculty and student image requests, images from digitized slides, images purchased from vendors, and images related to institutional history. In order to properly manage these image collections, you need to know how digital asset management systems work. A broad knowledge of DAMs is important, because there are many different systems out there. The most popular DAMs for visual resources include Artstor’s Shared Shelf, Luna Imaging, and Madison Digital Image Database (MDID). These can be high cost for some institutions, so in-house solutions are also popular.

You also need to know how to locate high-quality and accurate images on the web. Libguides are an excellent way to compile these resources, and many institutions have great libguides on locating images for you to browse and study. My personal philosophy behind libguides, or curating image resources in general, is this: quality over quantity. Your job isn’t to know all instances of where to find images of the Mona Lisa. Your job is to know where to find the best images of the Mona Lisa.

Copyright and fair use

You also need to know how the images you manage, or how images available in subscription databases or on the web, can be used. This is why copyright and fair use comes into play. For general information on copyright law, look at Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators: Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions. For copyright information related to the visual arts, your best resources are from the College Art Association. Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities was released in 2014 and and the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts was released earlier this year. Study these documents and know them well.

Get experience – if you can

Some institutions don’t have a visual resources collection, but those that do usually need help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a visual resources professional and ask if you can volunteer, intern, or even just visit the collection and learn more about what they do and what a typical day is like for them.

So this is what I recommend doing as a library science student if you are interested in visual resources. If other visual resources professionals are reading this, I’m curious to hear what you also recommend!

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PT term Manager of Digital Assets and Collections Information– Glenstone

Position: Manager of Digital Assets and Collections Information

Reports to: Chief Archivist/Librarian

Background:

Located on 200 acres in Potomac, Maryland, Glenstone strives to provide visitors with a unique experience through the seamless integration of art, architecture, and landscape. Its first exhibition building was designed by late architect Charles Gwathmey and opened to the public in 2006. It hosts a series of rotating exhibitions with artworks drawn from Glenstone’s permanent collection of post-World War II art. The outdoor landscape is home to monumental sculptures carefully placed amidst rolling pasture and unspoiled woodland. Admission is always free, and visits are scheduled by appointment to encourage an unhurried, intimate engagement between the viewer and their surroundings.

Glenstone is now embarking upon an expansion in order to strengthen its commitment to the viewing public. The centerpiece of this project will be the construction of a new exhibition building designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners. The building will highlight a series of discreet pavilions, or “rooms” surrounding a central water courtyard, many of which will be devoted to single-artist installations. It will provide significantly expanded gallery space and state of the art collection storage. Landscape architects Peter Walker and Partners will also oversee a revised master plan of Glenstone’s outdoor landscape. Finally, the expansion will incorporate a new public entrance and visitor amenities, to support a more comfortable and rewarding visit.

Job Purpose:

To develop detailed requirements for systems to manage Glenstone’s digital assets, including: a Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) and/or Digital Preservation System.

Job Duties:

 Produce a short and long-range plan as it relates to the creation, management, and use of information, digital assets, and other collections-related assets; deliverable due by end of appointed term.

 Work closely with IT and other departments to ensure the reliability, security, and accessibility of all digital asset and collections information systems, including managing user groups, permissions, workflows, and reporting.

 Work with records creators across departments to establish logical file directory structures, naming conventions, metadata standards, and formats for born-digital records and assets.

 Develop and/or adopt metadata standards for digital assets and collections information.

 Develop policies, procedures, and workflows for the ingestion of digital assets and collections information into all digital asset and collections information systems. Train staff accordingly and monitor compliance.

 Develop and implement digital preservation strategies.

Required Qualifications:

 3-5 years of experience overseeing digital asset management and/or collections information management in a museum or archival setting.

 BA or equivalent in Art History, History or Humanities. Advanced degree, preferably MLIS with archival focus, or Museum Studies with Collections Information Management and/or Digital Asset Management focus highly preferred; or equivalent combination of education and experience.

 Knowledge of current best practices related to DAMS and collections information metadata, processes, and preservation strategies.

 Experience selecting and implementing digital asset management and/or collections information management systems.

 Experience and familiarity with one or more of the leading digital asset management systems, e.g., ADAM, Canto Cumulus, Extensis Portfolio, MeGlenstoneBin, NetXposure, Razuna, Xinet.

 Familiarity with one or more of the leading ILS or AMS platforms, e.g., Aleph/Voyager, Archivists’ Toolkit, Archon, CollectiveAccess, CuadraSTAR, Koha, Millennium, Omeka.

 Experience crafting institutional digitization and digital preservation strategies.

 Excellent verbal and written communication skills.

Preferred Qualifcations:

 Experience implementing open source software.

 Familiarity with current cataloging best practices and metadata standards for collections in museums, libraries, and archives, including Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO), LIDO, CDWA Lite, AAT, ULAN, DACS, EAD, MARC, AACR, LCSH, Dublin Core, PBCore, VRA Core, IPTC Core, XMP, EXIF, METS, MODS, and other standards as appropriate.

 Ability to work with staff possessing a wide range of technical competence.

 Experience and/or familiarity with CRM software.

Salary:  Glenstone offers a competitive salary.  This is a six-month, term position.

Application Process:

Electronically submit a cover letter, resume, list of three professional references, and a writing sample to HR@glenstone.org, or mail to:

Human Resources Generalist
Glenstone
12002 Glen Road
Potomac, MD 20854

Date Posted: May 20, 2014

Deadline: June 6, 2014


Visual Resources Curator– Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia

The Lamar Dodd School of Art seeks a curator of visual resources who possesses a solid knowledge of technology and an acute interest in providing new proactive services and support to faculty and students. This position reports to the Director of the School of Art. The curator will be responsible for developing, managing, and delivering visual resources, and for managing and overseeing additional digital teaching materials. Essential functions of the Visual Resources Curator include administration of the collection and training student staff. The successful candidate will work within the Lamar Dodd School of Art with a community of over 900 undergraduate students in Studio, Art History, and Art Education, 100 art history undergraduate majors and minors, 100 graduate students, and more than 45 tenured faculty in these three disciplines.

It is anticipated that the future projects for this increasingly dynamic position will require multiple skills, including the ability to manage complex, multi-year projects, to work in close collaboration with the faculty, administration, and staff of the Lamar Dodd School of Art, and to build relationships with the UGA. Libraries and with faculty and students across campus who may be investigating the visual arts. Projects may include digitizing the Lamar Dodd School of Art’s significant historic art slide collections, and collaborating with the UGA Libraries to develop print and digital resources and services on site in the Lamar Dodd School of Art. This challenging and rewarding opportunity requires both creative flexibility and independent individual initiative.

Requirements:

M.A. or B.A. in art
 history, architecture, visual studies
 or a related field. Substantial experience working with visual resources collections with knowledge of the issues around the creation, maintenance, and access of a visual resources collection, including familiarity with standards for visual materials. Experience working with digital imaging technologies and library management. Reading knowledge of multiple languages, ideally including one Romance language and German. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, and ability to work in a collaborative setting. Strong organizational and management skills, including the ability to initiate, track, and manage complex, multi-year projects successfully.

Desirable qualifications:

MLIS or course work leading to an MLIS degree. Experience
 with
 image collection
 management
 and presentation
 software. Knowledge of digital images best practices. Familiarity with Macintosh operating system and proficiency with PowerPoint, PhotoShop, and web content and learning management systems (eLC). Understanding of copyright issues related to image collection management. Previous supervisory experience or team leadership.

We will receive applications for this position through the University of Georgia employment website, under the position title “Program Coordinator II” (https://www.ugajobsearch.com ).

Review of applications will begin on May 19, and will continue until the position is filled.


Job postings

Picture Library Assistant– The Granger Collection

Archivist (theater)– Confidential 

Digital Asset Manager– Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Archivist– The Felix Gonzalez Torres Foundation

Library Assistant IV– The Getty

Metadata Librarian I- The Getty

 

 


Assistant Visual Resources Curator– School of Visual Arts

DATE AVAILABLE: May 2014
JOB TITLE: Assistant Visual Resources Curator
DEPARTMENT: Visual Arts Library
REPORTS TO: Visual Resources Curator
STATUS: Exempt

POSITION OVERVIEW: Assists Visual Resources Curator in the daily operation of the Visual Resources Collection.

DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Develop and provide access to digital image collection.
  • Provide support to faculty and student in the Visual Resources Collection.
  • Assist the curator in the daily operation of the Visual Resources Collection.
  • Maintain image database, organize and manage electronic images.
  • Oversee image processing (scanning of digital material, creation of metadata, and uploading of images and metadata to our local database).
  • Assist with ongoing digital image conversion projects; familiarizing faculty with MDID2, ARTstor, and other image resources.
  • Assist with inquires regarding scanning, Photoshop, PowerPoint and other VR related software and equipment as needed.
  • Troubleshoot image databases and working with Library Systems staff and campus IT to resolve technical issues.
  • Supervise and train student staff.
  • Occasional general maintenance of analog collection.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Art History, Fine Arts, Design, or other relevant field.
  • Knowledge of contemporary art–or be able to demonstrate an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Strong knowledge of digital imaging technologies, scanning, FileMaker Pro, PhotoShop, Excel, PowerPoint, PC and Mac Platforms
  • Mature and professional demeanor.
  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to work well with a diverse group of people.
  • High organizational aptitude and attention to detail.
  • Previous visual resources, library, art history, or gallery experience; working knowledge of data standards used for cataloging works of art and/or general office experience a plus.

School of Visual Arts has been a leader in the education of artists, designers, and creative professionals for more than six decades. With a faculty of distinguished working professionals, dynamic curriculum, and an emphasis on critical thinking, SVA is a catalyst for innovation and social responsibility. Comprised of more than 6,000 students at its Manhattan campus and 35,000 alumni in 100 countries, SVA also represents one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. For information about the College’s 31 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, visit sva.edu.

Find out what it’s like to work at SVA visit: www.sva.edu/about-sva/working-at-sva .

To apply for this position, please send a cover letter and resume to working@sva.edu. No walk-ins please.

The School of Visual Arts is an equal opportunity employer.

Full post here.


Library Collections Technician– Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY

For those of you who are interested in photographic archives…

 

Position Summary:

The department manages a circulating collection of slides, videos, 16mm films, and pictures/clippings and
an archival collection of bookplates, photographs, and design drawings. Under moderate supervision and
with moderate latitude for independent judgment, the employee holding this position participates in the
preservation, maintenance and acquisition of these collections.

Position Duties:

– Participate in the evaluation, scanning, inventory, and de-accessioning of the department’s circulating
slide, video, 16mm, and picture collections.
– Participate in maintenance of archival still and moving image collections including inventorying,
rehousing, and scanning projects.
– Assist Curator in maintaining digital image production work flow and tracking deadlines.
– Oversee filing, shelving, labeling, and repair of circulating departmental collections.
– Participate in acquisition of digital images and videos including entering and tracking orders and
preparing items for circulation.
– Oversee circulation statistics of departmental collections.
– Participate in providing public service as needed, including relaying policies, receiving image orders and
video purchase requests, assisting patrons locate images in ARTstor and the Picture Collection,
circulating slides, videos, and 16mm film.
– Participate in the hiring, scheduling, training, and supervising of student workers and graduate
assistants.
– Propose policies and procedures associated with department services
– Perform all other related duties as assigned

Education:
High school diploma or equivalent; and relevant associate’s degree or minimum 2 years related college
required. Bachelor’s degree or minor in film or photo-related field preferred.

Experience:
Must have experience handling rare or fragile materials, especially slides, photographs, and film.
Experience working with cataloguing and databases preferred.

Other:
Excellent organizational, interpersonal, communication, and customer service skills required.

To Apply: Please submit your cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information for three
professional references.

PRATT INSTITUTE IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER AND RECOGNIZES AND
VALUES THE BENEFITS OF A DIVERSE WORKFORCE.
Position Type – Full-Time/Regular
Salary – 39,400.50 USD
Tracking Code – 1386

 

From VRA Job Opportunities.


Special Collections Manager- The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Duties
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is currently seeking a detailed oriented professional that will participate in and support the curatorial, instructional, access, and preservation functions of the Flaxman Library?s Special Collections program.  This individual will assist the Special Collections Librarian in all aspects of collections management. In the absence of the Librarian, the Special Collections Manager will assume responsibility for daily operations, including management of facilities and collections (both physical and digital) and interactions with students, faculty, staff, researchers, and other visitors to the collections.Under the supervision of the Special Collections Librarian, the Special Collections Manager will represent the School and the Flaxman Library in presenting our resources to all types of visitors, on site and online. As directed, will work with colleagues throughout the campus and the external art, library, and archival communities to develop, maintain, and promote our collections and programs, in furtherance of the School?s goals and interests.  Assist with care of irreplaceable collections and materials, in a high-use educational environment. Contribute significantly to assigned digital library and cataloging projects, working in close cooperation with relevant staff at the School and the Museum, as necessary to complete assignments.

Qualifications
THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE WILL HAVE: Bachelor?s degree in an art- or design-related field; advanced degree preferred. One or more years of relevant work experience in a library, archive, museum, gallery, or other collection-based setting. Demonstrable knowledge of contemporary art practices based in artists? books, archives, exhibitions, and/or publishing. Understanding of basic principles of preservation and handling for works of art and archival materials; Understanding of basic cataloging and metadata standards.  Good organizational and communication skills.  Proficiency using standard office software and hardware, web services, and networked environments. Ability to work effectively within a team or independently.  High commitment to customer service;  Must be able to routinely lift up to 50 pounds.Preferred
Teaching, curating, and/or publishing experience;
Experience with digital library workflows and standards;
Experience with scanning software and digital scanners, and related peripheral devices;
Experience with widely-used library systems and software such as OCLC, CONTENTdm, Voyager, or others;
Involvement in planning and execution of (on site and/or online) exhibitions;
Supervisory experience.

Apply here. Job ID: 7990.