Alt Career Spotlight: Kristine Heid-Santiago, Image Content Manager at ARTSTOR

This series of interviews will feature individuals who have received their MLIS/MSIS, but do not currently hold positions solely dedicated to art librarianship. Some may work in libraries and have an interest or duties related to art librarianship, while others use their information science skills in fields outside of the traditional library setting.

What is the name of the employer/institution you work for?
I work for ARTSTOR, which is now part of the ITHAKA family – alongside JSTOR, PORTICO, and ITHAKA S&R.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your current position?
My undergraduate degree from SUNY Geneseo is a Bachelors in Anthropology and Art History, with a concentration in Cultural Anthropology. While there, I interned at BOCES, processing and cataloguing their archive of documentary photographs of migrant workers. The first full-time job I had post-undergrad was as a Keyworder for a stock photography agency. That position piqued my interest in pursuing a Masters in Library and Information Science (concentration in Archives and Records Management) from Pratt Institute. Immediately following that program, I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) for a Masters in Fashion and Textile Studies, which offers training in both curatorial work and textile conservation. While at FIT, a temp agency connected me with ARTSTOR to work part-time in the Metadata Department. For almost two years, I worked on various data projects, before leaving for an object conservation internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA), which led to a part-time cataloguing job.

What brought you to your current position?
After two years at the MMA, my former boss from ARTSTOR convinced me to return to work as a Metadata Librarian – I have been here ever since.

What does a typical work day look like for you?
The ARTSTOR Digital Library (ADL) is an online aggregator of (mostly) fine arts images. Much of my time is spent analyzing contributed data and “enhancing” it with in-house classification terms, the Getty’s TGN nation terms, and assigning earliest and latest dates, in an attempt to (very generally) standardize it. I also review the data for copyright issues – whether or not the images may be displayed in ADL internationally or only domestically. Additionally, my colleagues and I are working to make ADL images more discoverable, especially alongside JSTOR articles.

Do you have any advice for current students and/or those on the job market?
Technology is fast and furious. I highly recommend taking as many technological courses as possible. However, you should always study what you love – it makes it much more fun!

What are some of the current challenges you see in your field or the art/information science field?
The biggest challenge is keeping up with technology. Automation often comes up as a quick and dirty solution, but dirty implies that we then need labor-intensive manual cleanup. However, without any automation, wrangling data for over 2 million images is a rather daunting task. Difficult to find the balance.

Tell us something fun about yourself! What do you do in your spare time?
Reading and travel are pastimes I love, but rarely get to enjoy. My love for art endures, especially that of worldwide ancient cultures. I am also fascinated with onomastics – the study of names and their origins/meanings.

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