Session Update from Atlanta: Going Outside, Coming in from the Cold

Going Outside, Coming in from the Cold: Outsourcing, Moonlighting, and Consulting

Carol Rusk, Whitney Museum of American Art

Eric Wolf, New York School of Interior Design

Margot Keuper, Duncan Systems Specialists, Inc.

Carol Rusk (Whitney Museum of American Art)
Carol described a variety of projects she, her staff, volunteers, and interns have been able to tackle through a time of budget cuts. Unfortunately, this synopsis is very brief since I was disconnected from wireless while I was blogging this session – apologies to Carol.

Photograph collection and Film and Video materials discovered in a closet – sorted and records 25 MARC records to provide access to the sub-collection.
Whitney Exhibition Records – access very limited, housing poor. Upgraded to adequate preservation holders.
Audio tapes – records of artists speaking at the Whitney. Previous project to professionally restore tapes funded by grant. Further restoration/preservation done by a consultant – materials are archived on a hard drive.
Preservation Enclosures – created by an intern for special collections
Special Collections shift and inventory? Outside art handler, shift, remove duplicates, etc.

What is the outcome – great pride.
Thorough volunteer and intern interviewing still doesn’t weed out these things – boredom, confusion, retraining, socializing aspect

How can you tackle extra projects when one doesn’t have adequate staffing to cover normal operations?

Eric Wolf (New York School of Interior Design)
Gallery Hopping: Professional Growth Through Consulting

Expand your skill sets
Keep abreast of other institutions
Raise your own file
Experience working with senior management
More entrepreneurial
Gaining vision
Supplement income

How to find clients – word of mouth rather than formal announcements. Your universe is as wide as your personal and professional network.

Sotheby’s needed help creating a library to pass accreditation by NY School of Regents and NASAD. Chance and good fortune can lead to these opportunities – there is an invisible network. The more work you do, the easier it is to find opportunities as your reputation grows.

Jet-setting and the ‘two-martini lunch” is a stereotype. Enjoy perks of the business world (unlike many cultural institution)!!

Representing yourself and convincing a client that you are the right person for the job. Reminders of why many of us work in the non-profit world.

How does one propose compensation? Clients don’t have a standard-pay scale. Hourly or overall project fee?

  • Business plans – project fee
  • Repetitive work & consulting – hourly fee

Estimate on the higher end, don’t sell yourself short! Be honest with yourself and never ask less than you think your time is worth. You can charge more as you gain experience. The art of self-representation – what’s the worst/best that could happen? Negotiation with senior managers – always good to practice these skills.

Business writing proposals and business plans are frequently requested. Similar documents are available online with some research. Ascertain a realistic and accurate expectations – what are your clients willing to expend in time and human resources.?They are unsure, so you help them negotiate this territory.

What are their priorities?

Rewards of shaping a project from the inception. Using your years of experience to shape positive situations.

Margot Keuper (Duncan Systems Specialists, Inc.)
The Vendor’s Perspective
Back in the 1980s CATS database services in UTLAS. MARC record recon creation project leaders.

UTLAS wound down their projects in the 1990s. Margot was asked by the company to fulfill a contract to finish 150,000 records. This was the impetus for their business startup. Continued to serve smaller (lower-end) clients with less budgets.

This is a business. IT outsourcing begun in the 1990s and it counts for 20%. Fewer conversion projects – the Avery Index, AIC, Frick, etc. Price per unit has dropped. Management decisions with employees in mind, staffing as a fine balancing-act. DSS trends toward under-staffing.
Part time floaters or allowing staff to work extra hours compensate for this model.

Site visits – not frequent, but sometimes absolutely necessary. Logistics of materials or supplies. Staffing – insurance, housing, workspace issues.
Pricing considerations – “project throughput” is defined as # unit per person in a set amount of time. Higher throughput projects are priced differently than lower throughput projects.

Impact of the internet on the library community – less need for onsite presence for different tasks.

Project management and comfort level, establishing a relationship over time. Materials are secure, known staff are doing the work, etc. Total responsibility for an entire project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *