Minneapolis Joint Conference Report by Lois Swan Jones Award Recipient

Thank you for the opportunity to attend the VRA + ARLIS/NA 2011 2nd Joint Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota with the Lois Swan Jones Award. Attending the conference helped me to learn more about ARLIS/NA as an organization and developments in art librarianship across the country. Additionally, I participated in the mentorship program through which I was able to discuss my professional interests and questions with my mentor. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the ARLIS/NA conference at this point in my degree program and have already incorporated information from the sessions into my class work and in determining my future courses. I look forward to becoming more active within both the national and regional organizations in the future.

On Thursday afternoon I attended two special interest group meetings, Artist Files and Materials Libraries. The Artist Files working group addressed concerns raised in a recent article reviewing the group’s work, issues with finding vendors to assist in digitizing artist files, and the potential in digital archiving tools such as the Internet Archive and Archive It. The Materials Library group discussed several different materials vendors and libraries across the country and sparked conversations and brainstorming throughout the group. It was interesting to hear the input and perspectives of people who work in a range of institutions and the various strategies that are needed in the variety of libraries. After the meetings I met with my conference mentor, Milan Hughston, former UT library student and Chief of Library and Museum Archives at the Museum of Modern Art. Mr. Hughston served as a wonderful guide throughout the conference, introducing me to his colleagues and recommending sessions related to my interests.

The opening plenary “Works and Fair Use: Can Bridges Be Built Between Educational Users and Copyright Owners?” by Jule Sigall on Friday provided insight on his work with the orphan works legislation and offered suggestions for library professionals. “Beyond the Silos of the LAMs” addressed the changing roles of information professionals brought forth with digital materials and evolving patron expectations. Presenters from Simmons College, the Centre for Arts and Culture at the University of Calgary, and the Minnesota Historical Society discussed the innovative ways these institutions are redefining traditional roles of librarians and archivists. The “New Voices in the Profession” session was especially valuable because I was able to observe the projects other students and new professionals are working on, including image access in film, digitization projects, and research on copyright issues. Additionally, Kathryn Pierce, UT Austin's iSchool PhD candidate, presented her research on preserving digital architectural records. I, like many others, ended my evening snacking on fancy cheese and desserts at “The Icebreaker.”

On Saturday I attended both the VRA and ARLIS/NA Annual Membership meetings where I gained a sense of the general functions of the organizations as well as their upcoming events and goals. The joint lunch was a great opportunity to chat with people about their various libraries and positions and honor Craig Bunch for his research award! The “Engaging New Technologies” presentations overwhelmed me with social networking options, yet sparked an idea for one of my final research papers. I enjoyed wrapping up the day with the TX/MX meeting and hearing about all the projects happening across the state.

Sunday’s “Collaborative Ventures, Collaborative Gains” presentations inspired me to think about the potential for libraries and librarians to take more active involvement in course curricula. The Museum Library Division and VRA Museum Visual Resources Group meeting introduced me to new technologies available to assist librarians in physically managing collections and the ArLiSNAP meeting was an interesting brainstorming session on how to get more involved within the larger organization. After the ArLiSNAP meeting I quietly picked up my coat from the rack and snuck down the stairs, out the door, across Loring Park, and back to the Walker for the few hours before my flight.

by Mary Wegmann