The year was 1974, and The Medium's tagline was "an agent through which action takes place." As we witness a sea change in the way the chapter publishes The Medium, what better time to visit the first issue of The Medium? The opening paragraph indicates that the publication was to be largely shaped by chapter members' contributions, and that approach is even more apt in our new publication environment, which offers an unprecedented level of user input and control.
The opening paragraph from the first issue:
This is the first newsletter of the Art Library Society/North America -- Texas Chapter. As a new publication its form will follow the material we have to print. Future issues will reflect the form and content ARLIS/Texas members give to it. We begin with humility and we strive for significance -- your opinions and ideas are always considered.
Volume 1, number 1 recorded activities at the first organizational meeting of the Texas chapter held at the Kimbell Art Museum and Amon Carter Museum. Ilse Rothrock, librarian at the Kimbell Art Museum, introduced guest speaker Judith Hoffberg, founder of ARLIS/NA and librarian at the Brand Library in Glendale, California, who spoke to the group about the history of ARLIS/NA and other particulars. After a lunch break, Shelby Miller, president of the chapter, continued the meeting by discussing the steps required to become an official chapter of ARLIS/NA. The question of the frequency of chapter meetings took center stage, with Judith Hoffberg urging the group to meet more than once a year. In the end, the group agreed on a compromise provision in the chapter's constitution reading, "a meeting shall be held at least once a year." James Galloway, vice-president, would be responsible for sending out the newsletter, and the cost would be supported by donations--at the time, the kitty amounted to $19. The meeting then turned to discussion of various chapter projects and concerns, including how to handle duplicate periodicals, the challenge of indexing exhibition catalogs, and how to handle an ongoing chapter initiative, the compilation of the Union List of Art Periodicals in Texas. Members agreed that a state-wide listing would not be feasible and that it made more sense to start with smaller areas and piece those into a larger list later. Another project on the docket was a way to handle non-book materials, such as exhibition announcements. These materials were seen as important since they often provided information not published elsewhere. In another initiative, Mrs. Rothrock sought to leverage the collective knowledge offered by the chapter by publishing a form that members could use to submit reference questions among themselves. The first form appears alongside the article. The issue closes with a call for members to re-evaluate the curriculum offered by area library schools vis-a-vis preparation of future art librarians and to express their concerns via a form to be filled out and mailed to Dean Dewey Carroll at the North Texas State University School of Library and Information Science.
The inaugural issue of The Medium reveals a nascent chapter brimming with projects and concerns. Thirty-two years later, the chapter remains a vital network of professionals addressing a long list of art library and visual resources problems and challenges. In fact, some of the concerns brought out at our first meeting are still with us today: witness Jon Evans' work with non-book materials via the ARLIS/NA Artist Files Working Group. It's clear that the connections that the chapter facilitates between members still stands as its raison d'être, and as we launch the new Web site, opportunity abounds for building and mining those connections.