The 2013 ARLIS/SE Conference in New Orleans, LA


I attended the 2013 ARLIS/SE conference in New Orleans, LA on November 21-22. The conference theme was “Gone Digital: Collections and Collaborations” on arts librarianship in the context of the digital age and was hosted by the New Orleans Museum of Art. The purpose of the ARLIS/SE conference is to meet art librarians in the southeast area and see what the host city and librarians are up to! Highlights included a walking tour of the French Quarter, a tour of the Old U.S. Mint, an evening jazz crawl, a visit to the Amistad Research Center and the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University, and a champagne reception at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

The conference began with a continental breakfast and chapter business meeting followed by the LoPresti book awards announcement and raffle. ARLIS/SE founded the LoPresti Publication Award Competition in 1985 to recognize excellence in art publications, ranging from art and architecture books to exhibition catalogues and beyond, issued in the southeastern United States. Here are the winners of the 2014 LoPresti awards:

Winner – Exhibition Catalogue
Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy (Georgia Museum of Art, Auburn University, University of Oklahoma)

Honorable Mention – Exhibition Catalogue
The Paternal Suit: Heirlooms from the F. Scott Hess Family Foundation (Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art – The College of Charleston)

Winner – Monograph
A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana (Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities)

Honorable Mention – Monograph
Tennessee Log Buildings: A Folk Tradition (University of Tennessee Press)

The morning session concluded with the pre-professional poster session. I’m excited to say that I had a poster accepted at the conference! It was definitely a valuable learning experience and the intimate conference was the perfect venue to present my first conference poster.

Courtney Baron, MLIS candidate, Valdosta State University
Archiving MFA Theses in the Digital Age: Considerations at Lamar Dodd School of Art

This project focused on my effort to digitize and archive the MFA theses at Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. The department has only required print copies, but since the MFA theses have not been cataloged or archived on campus in the past, they were not easily accessible and at risk of being lost. Print copies are also limiting because it’s not possible to preserve high-resolution images or videos in that format. We are going to automatically archive electronic versions of the MFA theses in our institutional repository, Athenaeum@UGA, starting with spring 2014 graduates. I plan to contact graduates from the last five or so years and ask them to opt in to the IR. This project has sparked an interest in digital scholarship and the value of institutional repositories.

Rebecca Cooling, MLIS Candidate, Dominican University, & Intern, School of the Art Institute of Chicago Special Collections
Continuing a History of Access: Bringing Structure and Visibility to the Archive of Chicago’s Randolph Street Gallery

Kaitlyn Parker, MLIS, University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies
Intellectual Property and the Digitization of Visual Arts Collections

Dr. John Klingman, a professor at Tulane, led us on a walking tour of the French Quarter focusing on the different styles and history of architecture. We walked to the Old U.S. Mint, which is known for minting Confederate money, and visited the archives. They have a team of archivists who are busy digitizing parts of the collection and they plan to make it accessible to the public. This turned out to be a common trend in all of the places we visited due to the conference theme of arts librarianship in the digital age. We ended the night with a jazz crawl.

The second and final day of the conference started with a bus trip to Tulane University to visit the Amistad Research Center and the Hogan Jazz Archive and rare books collection. The Amistad Research Center is the first and largest independent archive specializing in the history of African Americans. The name comes from the Amistad case, in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Amistad Africans were free, and is related to the American Missionary Association. The Hogan Jazz Archive was an especially appropriate venue given the location of the conference. My favorite part of the visit was getting a glimpse of the Carnival images from the Louisiana Research Collection because the drawings of the floats and the costumes are incredible and the colors are so vivid. Next, we headed to our final destination at the New Orleans Museum of Art to browse the collections and view the member presentations.

Rebecca Fitzsimmons, Project Assistant, Panama Canal Museum Collection, University of Florida Libraries
Community Building around Digital Collections: Audience, Partnership, Digitization, and Leveraging Volunteer Talents in an Online Environment

Courtenay McLeland, Head of Digital Projects and Preservation and Curator, Library Art Collection, Thomas G. Carpenter Library, University of North Florida
Art in the Library: From Our Walls to a Monitor near You

Margarita Mirabal, Digital Archivist, Digital Collection Center, Florida International University Libraries
Coral Gables: Virtual Historic City Geo Database

We also heard from Seth Boonchat and Roman Alokhin about NOMA’s “Works on Paper” digitization project, funded through an IMLS grant. The conference ended with a delightful champagne reception at the museum.

I highly recommend participating in your local ARLIS chapter and attending the chapter conferences! They are an excellent way for students and new professionals to network with like-minded individuals and get a sense of the resources and issues in your area. Plus, they will likely be cheaper and easier to attend due to time and location. I really enjoyed the ARLIS/SE community and will definitely be back next year!

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