Hack Your Art Librarianship Program: University of Wisconsin, Madison

This Hack Your Art Librarianship Program post was contributed by Ellen Faletti. Ellen is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin Madison Information School. She is interested in art and museum librarianship, especially at the intersections of provenance, digital humanities, and database management. Outside of school, Ellen enjoys biking, running, and yoga. Twitter: @LN2891

The Master’s Program at the University of Wisconsin Madison Information School is an accredited ALA program. A Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies can be completed either on campus or online. The Master’s Program is completed in 39 credits; required are 3 core classes, one technology course, one management course, a practicum, and an e-portfolio. Courses are taught by both academics and professionals in the library field – both on campus and online.

The possibility of becoming an art librarian is what encouraged me to seriously consider and apply to library programs. While the UW-Madison iSchool does not offer an art librarianship track, there is the option of doing a dual degree program in both the iSchool and the Art History program. This takes at minimum 3 years, and you must be admitted into both programs. While I am not in the dual degree program, I have been able to take classes and cater them towards my interest of art librarianship. This has meant choosing topics in my courses that deal with art databases, books as objects. Art librarianship can be a mix of both archives and academic librarianship, both of which are strong tracks in my program.

I have had the opportunity to take a book history course, and I do know that an art librarianship course is offered every 2 years in the program. My program also offers 5-week, one credit classes which can cover different topics in librarianship. I have taken 5 week classes on Linked Data, Digital Image Archiving, and Special Collections.

The iSchool does allows students to take up to 3 courses in other fields that can count towards the degree. Knowing most art positions require a foreign language, I started German, and am currently in the first semester of a two-semester museum studies course.

A 120-hour field placement is required. I took this as an opportunity to work in the art museum on campus conducting provenance research and also creating a manual for the museum’s database. The program also offers a library instruction practicum. The iSchool does encourage us to work outside of our practicum and school as well. University of Wisconsin has over 40 libraries. I have worked at a general library, the map library, law library, and am currently working at the art library and the art museum. The university’s Special Collections, Digital Collections and Wisconsin Historical Society also hires LIS students. While it is important to gain practical experience, I also want to emphasize the importance of taking care of yourself physically and mentally, and that students should not feel compelled to do all the things.

Overall, I would recommend the UW-Madison iSchool. I feel supported in all my endeavors, and have built meaningful relationships with students, faculty, and staff. As a Wisconsin resident, it was hard to justify going to an out-of-state school, and I believe the education I am receiving at UW-Madison is valuable and a great fit for me.

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