This year I made my first trip to the Society of American Archivists annual meeting, which was held in Washington DC. It was my first time attending a large conference, so it was a lot to take in, but I think I made the most of my time there without getting too overwhelmed! It was a quick trip, I only was there for one-and-a-half days, so unfortunately I don’t have a comprehensive report to give, but below are some of my impressions and opinions on the happenings at the conference and my experience as a first-timer.
My main reason for attending the conference was to network and augment my job search. I met with someone to look over my resume and discuss strategies for applying, and she was very helpful in giving me suggestions of places to apply to and offering to pass my resume along to colleagues. Other offerings for attendees in the midst of applying to jobs were not as helpful, however. There was a job board with postings, most of which were already on SAA’s website, and a place to post your resume, but I didn’t get the sense that either area was attracting that much attention or that career and job search services were a strong point of the conference as a whole.
As for professional development, the session I found most interesting, beneficial and probably the most useful to ArLiSNAP members, was a roundtable on visual materials cataloguing and access. In it, a panel discussed the new Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics) guidelines, how they differ from and and relate to existing guidelines and how they can be implemented using MARC (DCRM(G) can also be used in EAD as well). First a “live cataloguing demo” was presented and then we split up into smaller groups to try our hand at using the guidelines to catalogue a photo album. When we reconvened as a larger group, each one had thought of different ways of titling and describing the materials (and some heated arguments ensued). It was a good reminder that there can be multiple “right” ways to catalogue, and that cataloguing is an art with guidelines to follow, but no real hard fast rules. In a room full of seasoned cataloguers all using the same set of guidelines to describe the same materials, differences abounded. Knowing that veteran cataloguers faced some of the same cataloguing quandaries I have as a new professional was reassuring, if not a bit unbalancing as well. I also attended sessions on preventative conservation, deaccessioning and teaching with primary resources. If anyone is particularly interested in preventative conservation, I have a handout from the session listing some great resources for disaster planning and risk management which I would be happy to share.
I also attended the Museum Archives Section meeting. Primarily this was a business meeting for officers, but it was interesting to see which museums were represented and what issues were discussed. Funding and administrative support seemed to be the main hot-button issues, which is not surprising coming from the non-profit sector. For those of us working in museums and other non-profit arts institutions, funding issues and defending the importance of library and archives’ place in the arts are probably things we will all have to deal with at some point in our careers.
I went solo, which might seem scary to some, but between my jam-packed schedule and the general bustle of the conference it didn’t leave much time to be intimidated. Plus, it being a fairly small professional circle, it wasn’t hard to spot former classmates and colleagues. So, even though I went alone, for much of the time I was with people I knew or networking and making new acquaintances. The biggest hindrance to attending was the cost. Being a recent graduate, I got student pricing which helped out immensely, but still there was the cost of the plane ticket, hotel room, food and transportation. I would highly recommend that any current students thinking of attending next year try to involve themselves in some way, whether it be submitting a poster or serving as a member of their SAA student chapter, to get some financial help from their program to attend.
Overall, I felt it was a great experience. There was a lot to offer for those interested in art and visual materials, and good representation from museums and other arts and cultural institutions. My goal was to network and I definitely made some great, and I hope lasting, connections. Besides trying to get help with funding, my biggest piece of advice would be to go in with a specific goal. Having networking and job hunting in my mind helped to keep me focused and not feel like I had to do everything.
Did anyone else go this year? What did you think? If anyone has specific questions about the conference itself, the sessions I attended or attending in general, feel free to email me!
There are all sorts of homespun efforts to give money to students and new professionals that need it. Like this one:
ArchivesNext (a.k.a. Kate Theimer) has been crowdsourcing money for scholarships so that people can attend the Society of American Archivists yearly conference.
We’re giving money to people to fund their registration for the SAA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Rather than pay for full travel or lodging for just a few people, I try to give a little bit of help to as many people as possible. This effort is not affiliated with SAA in any way. Your donations are not tax deductible. It’s simple. You send me money. I give it all away within a few weeks to colleagues who need it.
The SAA conference this year is August 10-16, 2014. The scholarships are awarded by random draw and, while individual awards may not be large, the money has the potential to help out lots of people like us to attend this amazing conference for the first time. You need to be an SAA member to apply. My quick math based on the information provided is that scholarships are probably in the $200 range.
On Saturday June 28 I will draw names out of a hat and notify the lucky people. This will allow you to register by the early-bird deadline of July 7. Once you forward me the confirmation of your registration, I will send you a check.
…. One year there were a surprisingly large number of people whose names got pulled from the hat who backed out because they hadn’t realized how high the other costs of attending the meeting would be…. please do a bit of homework first and make sure you think you really can attend the conference before you apply.
For both donors and applicants, the deadline this year is June 27th.
The Conference Program Committee, the Professional Development Committee, and the Art Library Students & New ARLIS Professionals Section (ArLiSNAP) are pleased to announce that the Emerging Technology Forum will be featured again in Washington. The session will be held on Saturday, May 3, from 2:30 until 4:30 pm at the Grand Hyatt.
The Emerging Technology Forum will feature presenters sharing their knowledge of cutting-edge technologies through hands-on demonstrations at technology stations and brief presentations.
PLEASE NOTE: The Forum will be held concurrently with the exhibits and the poster sessions.
Have you harnessed a technology tool to make your job more efficient, your teaching more effective, or your collections more accessible? Consider sharing your expertise and experience with your fellow conference attendees.
Submission deadline: Friday, February 21, 2014
Requirements for Participation:
Presenters will be required to prepare a hands-on component to demonstrate tableside at a technology station for the duration of the 2-hour session, prepare and give a brief five-minute presentation to a larger group during the 2-hour session, and provide handouts about the technology.
Presenters will be asked to provide their own hardware (laptops/tablets, etc.) for their demonstration station. WiFi will be provided.
- Blogging (example: Tumblr)
- Citation Management (example: Zotero)
- Concept Mapping (examples: Compendium, FreeMind)
- Content Management Systems (examples: Omeka, Drupal)
- GIS Mapping
- Photo Sharing
- Social Media (example: Pinterest)
Demonstrations of free or open-source technologies are preferred.
Examples of presentations featured in the inaugural forum held in Pasadena in 2013:
- Building Interfaces to Digital Collections with Viewshare – Jefferson Bailey
- Pinterest As More Than a Collection of Images – Shannon Lane
- Crowdsourcing Projects, from Start to Finish – Mary-Michelle Moore & Fallon Bleich
- If This Then That: Taming the Web Using IFTTT – Caitlin Pereira
- Getting from Chaos to Strategy: Process Delineation in the Digital Age – John Trendler
- Expanding Zotero’s Image Universe: Building Translators to Harvest our Digital Collections – Alexander Watkins
TO SUBMIT A PROPOSAL FOR THE EMERGING TECHNOLOGY FORUM, COMPLETE THE SUBMISSION FORM HERE.[https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Emerging_Tech_Forum_2014]
Olivia Miller is a recent MSLS graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and winner of the ARLIS/SE 2013 Professional Development Travel Award.
The Pasadena conference was an excellent first-time experience for me with ARLIS/NA! My favorite session was probably the “Evolution of Art Reference and Instruction” on Saturday. As a future hopeful reference and instruction librarian, it was exciting to hear about how others incorporate research into their professional lives. Speakers touched on subjects such as assessing online reference, librarian and faculty collaboration for graduate courses, providing reference and instruction for Arts Management students, and various mobile technologies that can be used for reference and instruction. I would argue that one of the best elements of the conference was just the ability to see what others believe to be important enough to dedicate the time to research and share it with others.
Presenting my topic talk, “Power Up: How to Collect for Video Game Design Students,” at the Art and Design School Division was an amazing opportunity to share my research and have great conversations with others about my ideas. Even if my collection suggestions end up not working for some institutions, I hope they at least sparked more ideas and got attendees to thinking more about these students as a user group that would highly benefit from their attention.
Getting involved with the Graphic Novel SIG was a perfect end to a fun conference weekend. A personal and academic interest with this format brought me to the meeting, but the fact that it was new and everyone there seemed so excited about starting this new group made me want to try to help out. At this point in my professional career (the point where I’m on the job hunt), I had a hard time feeling like I could dedicate myself to a Division, Section, or SIG without knowing where I will be professionally in a few months or next year. The Graphic Novel SIG seems to be made up of individuals with a variety of interests in graphic novels, be it from a perspective of cataloging, collecting, reference, programming, space planning, and more. I felt very comfortable being in an unusual place in my career with the attendees (not that I didn’t in others, just this one moreso). I hope that wherever I end up starting my professional career at, I will be able to incorporate graphic novels into collections or programming.
ALA 2013 is drawing to a close, and we hope those of you who made it to the Windy City had a fulfilling experience!
We’re looking for a few good arlisnappers to provide a post-conference writeup. Did you participate in any VRC or art library-relevant sessions or see a great poster session? Visit any of Chicago’s incredible museums and want to tell us about an exhibit? Bonus points if you made it to any ACRL-Arts section meetings!
Even if you didn’t make it to any arts-focused events, what did you see that might generally be applicable to the arlisnap and ARLIS/NA community and new librarians? Interesting applications of existing or new technology? Creative approaches to instruction or outreach? Discussions of non-traditional collections? Cataloging for the zine librarian?
Erin Elzi is a Technical Services Librarian at the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture in NYC.
ACRL 2013: Professional Development Cross-Training
The annual ARLIS conference is rapidly closing in, and while I know many of you are gearing up for the first (or third… or 23rd) time, I’ve just returned from ACRL 2013. The theme of the conference was: Imagine, Innovate, Inspire, and I’m feeling just that – Inspired! Innovated! Imaginative! So lend me you ear while I tell you about an important part of professional development: cross-training.
Full disclosure, I’ve never been to the national ARLIS conference. It’s not that I actively avoid it, it’s just that I’ve received full-support, either through the professional development budget-line or via scholarships granted by my MLS school, to attend SLA, CAA, the IA Summit and ACRL. It’s also not that my workplace will not support a trip to ARLIS, but rather that all the other librarians here go to it, so I figure there’s greater benefit to our institution if I attend other conferences. Cross-training, or the process of stepping outside your daily, specialized frame of reference, helps make you more than an information professional. It makes you an information ninja. Ninjas are all at once fast, stealthy and powerful. Professional development cross-training does the same thing by strengthening the skills and knowledge you already have, while introducing ideas to help you solve problems or find that perfect tool you need to get a project off the ground.
Fortunately, my institution supports my quest for ninja status, and each year I basically have my pick of which conference to attend. Last year it was the IA Summit, which was relevant at the time, since we were in the initial stages of redesigning our OPAC. Two years ago I attended my first ACRL conference, while I was still a student, under the guises of a press pass (Here’s a tip: Offer to cover a conference for a publication. It may take care of your registration fee and is a great chance to get published!). While I had known going into library school that I wanted to work in academia – the 2011 ACRL conference reinforced that in every way. I tend to feel a bit out of place when it comes to networking-type situations, and let’s be honest – the networking opportunities are a major reason students go to these conferences. But at the ACRL conference, I never once felt out of place, or unwelcome due to my not-quite-professional-yet status. Much the same way the ARLIS-NY goes out of their way to make MLS students here in New York feel all warm and fuzzy and extraordinarily welcome in their chosen profession. Shop around if you’re still in school – you may find your library niche somewhere unexpected, even within the limitless boundaries of the ARLIS realm.
What was so innovative and inspiring and imaginative at ACRL this year? The uber-popular topics this year seemed to be information literacy instruction and data curation. While the greater part of these sessions addressed the needs of undergraduates, or disciplines in the hard sciences, I still walked away with some new tools and methodologies we can use for our grad-student only population here at the Bard Graduate Center. Including some fun open-source stuff, like new data visualization tools. Including this MOOC, which has finished, but the materials and lectures are still available.
“Digital Humanities” were also all over the place – both literally and figuratively. The ambiguous term found its way into panels and poster sessions covering everything from community building to subject analysis to online exhibitions to ACRL’s very own THATCamp. Digital Humanities are hot, people! And the projects taking place under its umbrella are often multi-media affairs and involve primary sources – things we art information pros tend to know a thing or two about. Get on board!
Then there were the sessions that more overtly rubbed elbows with the ARLIS crowd. A few librarians at the University of Michigan are Mapping the Motor City’s Cinemas. Another group at the University of Florida presented on raising collection awareness through online exhibits. A duo attempting to create a digital collection of street art documentation discussed the inherent challenges with such an undertaking. If sessions that address larger issues are more your thing than individual projects, how about a panel on building metadata to make better surrogates for images and objects (hint – let’s describe the object in our own words and go from there instead of fitting the items into imperfect, existing controlled vocabularies), or how to incorporate feminist pedagogy into any teaching opportunity (which is primarily about decentralizing the classroom). Or one of the many sessions that covered assessment and proving the value of your library – not as sexy a topic as the others, but increasingly important for many institutions.
Of course there’s always room for improvement (ACRL, if you’re listening, we want more sessions on diversity and grad student services!), but there’s also no doubt in my mind that you found at least one thing in this brief ACRL recap that sparked your interest or is applicable to your own professional or scholarly needs. And that’s just a tip of the iceberg – I came back with pages upon pages of notes. Just fathom how much you would get out of attending it yourself!
So, should you go to ARLIS this year, and the year after that, and the year after that? OF COURSE! But don’t write off other conference opportunities as well. In addition to elevating you to ninja rank, a willingness to attend other conferences can increase your ability to attend anything at all. If you lack institutional support, or if ARLIS never comes to your town, an ALA or ACRL or SAA conference that ends up in a city near you means all you have to pay is the registration fee. I know I plan on finally making my first ARLIS conference appearance in 2014 – D.C. is just a mere bus ride away from NYC!
If you’re already going to ARLIS as your one professional development opportunity this year, you can still get some cross-training done simply by attending sessions that may not appear to be your forte. Are you in reference? Join a discussion on authority records! Catalogers, stop by a session on collection development! Architectural archivists, listen in on the panel of fashion bloggers! See, being a ninja is easy!
Oh – and a final lesson I learned at ACRL: if your library doesn’t already have one, get a button maker! Everyone loves a good button, it’s cheap PR, and making them is like chicken soup for the weary researcher, staff member, and even the faculty or curator’s soul. But it looks like ArLiSANP already knew that!
Pasadena 2013 looms ever nearer! Register by the end of this Wednesday, April 3 to take advantage of early-bird pricing. For all of you new professionals who no longer have that cushy student discount to take advantage of, this can mean some pretty significant savings.
Student registration pricing remains the same, but if you’re hoping to attend a workshop, those go open to the public on April 4, so you’ll want to get your name on those lists as quickly as possible.
Still undecided about the conference? Why not take a look at the online program to see the many amazing presentations, panels, workshops, and tours being offered?
Need a roommate? Check #arlis2013roomies on twitter or ping the arlis-l listserv!
Overwhelmed by it all? Give the Conference Survival Guide a look.