An Interview with Ryan Flahive, Archivist at the Institute of American Indian Arts

Ryan Flahive is the Archivist at the Institute of American Indian Arts, a college focused on Native American Art. He comes to this position without a background in Library and Information Science, bringing a unique and different perspective to the job than is regularly seen in the ArLiSNAP interviews. Please read about his career journey, his work, and advice for getting into the profession below!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background, your current position, and how you got into the field?
I’m originally from a small farm town in Northeastern Colorado called Sterling, the youngest of nine children. My father, Frank Flahive, was dedicated to teaching the social sciences—history, government, geography, etc—at every level and spent his career fighting for teacher’s salaries through his volunteer position with the NEA. He is by far the greatest influence on my career. From an early age, my Dad and I spent countless hours at museums, libraries, cemeteries, and historic sites—reading every panel, stone, and engraving.

Fast forward to 1997—I moved to St. Charles, Missouri (just west of St. Louis) to play football and pursue a degree in History—in that order—at Lindenwood University (LU). During the course of my studies at LU, I discovered the world of anthropology, and added it as a second major. It was my anthropology advisor, Dr. Ray Scupin, who suggested I pursue a career in museums rather than a PhD in American History, which was the route my history professors preferred. After graduation from LU in 2001, I began a graduate program in history and Museum Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). The program is small; only twelve students are accepted each year. It focused on the overall management of cultural institutions—grant writing, policy development, strategic planning, curatorial basics, exhibiting planning, you name it—and rather than concluding the two-year degree with a capstone thesis, we were required to submit an exit project; something practical rather than esoteric. While other students in the cohort were interested in projects involving art conservation, exhibit development, or an education plan, I found archives. Specifically, I found the rotting archive of the St. Louis Public Service Company at the Museum of Transport in St. Louis County. Several hundred boxes were stored in a refrigerator box car at the back of the museum campus for over 25 years and documented the history of public transportation in St. Louis, c. 1870-1981 through maps, photographs, and other historic records. I couldn’t leave them to certain demise and set upon the task of preserving and arranging the materials. After nearly eighteen months of volunteer processing and preservation, I submitted the finding aid as my exit project and graduated from UMSL in May 2003. Since then I have worked in museum education in Wyoming (Ft. Caspar Museum, 2004), archives and rare book librarianship in Arizona (Sharlot Hall Museum, 2005-2009), and now as the Archivist at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico (2009-present). I am currently responsible for the historic record of our college and museum and teach museum studies courses (Basics of Archives Management and Oral Histories Research). My job, as a one-man-shop, is complicated. For some general information on the archives at IAIA, visit our webpage at https://iaia.edu/academics/library/archives/.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?
As I said above, my job at IAIA is complicated—but in a good way—so no day is typical. First and foremost, I am an educator. On any given day I might present the history of IAIA to a class or touring group, serve a variety of research patrons, grade papers, advise students, develop a syllabus, record a lecture for online delivery, or simply lend a sympathetic ear. Second, I identify as a practical historian dedicated to the development of alternative historic narratives. This part of my job entails not only helping my patrons develop these narratives through access to the archives but also through writing and publishing (Celebrating Difference: Fifty Years of Contemporary Native Arts at IAIA, 1962-2012, 2012; The Sound of Drums: A Memoir of Lloyd Kiva New, 2016). Last, but certainly not least, is my work as an archivist. By far the largest part of my job, my focus is on the overall management of the archives. I often work on policy revision and development, grant writing (never-ending), collection development, processing strategies, and digital asset & database management (http://econtent.unm.edu/cdm/insameindart, https://rmoa.unm.edu/results.php?inst=NmSfAIA). However, my day-to-day duties might include scanning and sharing photos with remote patrons, photo preservation, arrangement & description and everything in-between. As a museum professional, I have the honor and ability to work with our museum, The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, on collaborative projects and also sit on the campus Public Art Committee. The curation of art and history exhibits and the development of important narratives within museums plays a daily role in my career.

Do you have any advice for current students and/or those on the job market?
My advise for students (who eventually become those on the job market)—for what its worth:
Be as effective as possible in as many tasks as possible. Become a good grant writer. Learn project management strategies. Continually develop your technical skills, both on the public end and the back end. In other words—don’t back yourself into a predefined box!
Get involved with professional organizations! Serve on boards, work on strategic plans, and expand your toolbox.
Can’t find a job? Volunteer! Working for free is not optimal, but maintaining your skills and professional network during tough times is a must.

What were/are some challenges for you in the library/archival field?
I have degrees in History and Museum Studies—but not a library degree. I had no formal training in archives during my college years, so I learned the primary concepts of archives management informally during my exit project and later during my first formal archivist job at Sharlot Hall Museum. In a way, the entire field was a challenge to me. Coding has always been problematic, EAD and XML in particular. Having no formal training on technical coding or database management, learning EAD in 2009-2010 using Oxygen was a major challenge.
There are several overreaching issues/challenges in the field that I try to address through my daily work. Most recently, I’ve been lecturing and writing about traditional archival access issues. Specifically, the need for archives and archivists to become proactive in the digital and visual repatriation of cultural materials to source communities and revising access policies (see my article “Repatriating History,” http://www.oif.ala.org/oif/?p=9030 for more information). Institutional equity is also an issue I address through professional board appointments. I try to do my part to assure that funds, both public and private, are available to small, rural institutions (including historical societies, museums, Tribal entities, and archives).

Tell us something fun about yourself! What do you do in your spare time?
Happily married for fourteen years, my wife and I have a twelve-year-old boy and a ten-year-old girl. The family consumes the majority of my spare time, and rightly so. That said, I spend much of the remainder of my free time on the game of disc golf, which I’ve been playing, teaching, and organizing since 1999. Luckily, my wife and children also caught the bug. You might find me throwing discs, planning a tournament, teaching a school clinic, designing a course, overseeing the installation of a new course, or cleaning up an existing course. My passion for the game worked its way into my professional life; in 2015 I organized the funding and installation of a championship course at IAIA accompanied by a health class in disc golf—the IAIA Disc Golf Course is a fun side project. For more information, visit our webpage at https://iaia.edu/student-life/disc-golf-course/.

If you could take a trip to visit any library in the world, which would it be?
Only one? The New York City Public Library for its dynamic map collection. The Trinity College Library in Dublin for its genealogical resources and architecture. And the McHenry Library at the University of California-Santa Cruz to visit the Grateful Dead archive!

A Success Story: An Interview with kYmberly Keeton, Independent Publisher & Art Librarian

What is the name of the employer/institution you work for, and your current position?
At this time, I am in transition and applying for jobs in art librarianship and museums. I currently work as a self-employed Independent Publisher/Art Librarian. My company name is entitled: bookista media group. In my current role, I design and create personal library digital and physical spaces in churches, cultural centers, and residential homes.

In like manner, I teach two online art courses as a Certified Online Scholar Instructor in conjunction with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I publish a monthly African American online art reference journal and digital exhibition space. Additionally, I write for an online magazine entitled, Ms. XFactor and serve on various professional committees in ALA, ACRL, and SAA. #mywebsite here.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into the field of art librarianship?
I am an African American writer, librarian, and creative-mixologist. I graduated in 2014 from the University of North Texas with a Master’s of Library Science and obtained a graduate certificate in Digital Content Management. In 2008, I received a Bachelor’s and Baccalaureate Degree in English-Creative Writing from the University of Houston with a minor in African American Studies. Thereafter, I was a awarded a Graduate Certificate in African American Studies. The uniqueness about my graduate education, which led me to art librarianship, is that I am also an artist and trained curator.

In 2000, I began my professional career in museums as a Poetry Curator at the Arlington Museum of Art in Arlington, Texas. I then went on to become a Resident Literary Artist at the South Dallas Cultural center and taught in underrepresented communities for BIG THOUGHTS! as an Arts Integrationist. During my career, I had the opportunity to work as a Gallery Assistant at Richland Community College and as an Gallery Assistant/Art Docent at the University of Houston’s Blaffer Art Museum. Through these experiences, I have obtained extensive training through internships, workshops, taking courses, and shadowing others in the arts, librarianship, and education to have a balanced perspective and methodology about the arts.

When I decided to become a librarian I made sure that to look at all of the art institutions that would allow me to complete my practicum in a library setting. I completed my graduate practicum at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Hirsch Library and helped develop the Houston Museum of African American Culture’s website platform and blog. I also had the opportunity during my graduate career to create ART_library deco, an African American online art reference journal. Today, it is a resource updated monthly, available to the global community, and embedded in libguides in academic libraries, and is used as a resource in secondary education.

What brought you to your current position?
I have always wanted to work in an artistic institution that housed a library. I decided to take a leap of faith; go out for my dreams and walk away from a position that I was in that was not creatively fulfilling. After thinking long and hard about my decision, I decided to apply for jobs that are tailored to my skill set in art and design librarianship as well as in curating, teaching, and archiving.

Through this process, I had the opportunity to take on my first entrepreneurial project for a historical African American church in Jefferson City, Missouri this summer. I designed and created the Dr. Carolyn V. Atkins Reading Room at Quinn Chapel A.M.E.; I archived four-hundred books, created a library management system, and designed the physical infrastructure. While creating this entity, I realized that it is important to always have a side hustle in librarianship and in any profession.

What does a typical work day look like for you?
At this juncture, I am curating an online poster exhibition in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture entitled, “A Place for All People: Introducing the National Museum of African American History and Culture” a commemorative poster exhibition celebrating the opening of the Smithsonian’s newest museum that opened in September 2016. Based on the inaugural exhibitions of the museum, the posters highlight key artifacts that tell the rich and diverse story of the African American experience.

ART_library deco online exhibition space was chosen alongside a host of cultural institutions in the United States to share this body of work with the public. “A Place for All People” is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with the museum. The exhibition will debut on the ART_library deco Exhibition Space platform on December 1, 2017 through February 28, 2018.

Do you have any advice for current students and/or those on the job market?
Honestly, I believe that you should apply to as many places as possible in your area of expertise. Do not be afraid to go out for what you want in this profession. In like manner, keep at professional development. Attend free online conferences and enroll in open access or moocs that will help with or introduce you to a new set of skills that will help you in the future. Be positive and maintain your health. Remember that you are not alone. Feel free to read my take about my own journey more in depth here.

What were/are some challenges for you as an art librarian? Are these related to larger challenges in art librarianship?
The lack of opportunities for African American art librarians, curators, and archivists is dismal to say the least in our profession. Regardless, I feel that it is imperative to apply for what you know that you can do to best serve the greater community and for your own professional goals.

Tell us something fun about yourself! What do you do in your spare time? If you could take a trip to visit any library in the world, what would it be?
I get a kick out of shooting pool, traveling the globe, and chilling in my design studio. If I could visit any library in the world it will be the presidential library of Barack Obama.

Canadian Librarians Spotlight: An Interview with Daniel Payne

What is the name of the employer/institution you work for?

The Dorothy H. Hoover Library, OCAD University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Can you tell us a little bit about your background, your current position, and how you got into the field of (art) librarianship?

I have a Bachelor of Education and a Master’s degree in musicology, but I never really felt fully comfortable in either environment. Teaching in a traditional classroom is rewarding; however, I always feel so confined in my ability to access knowledge-building tools. In a library, I am surrounded by informational learning resources—print, electronic, audio-visual, or through the knowledge of my peers—and this level of connectedness cannot be replicated in even the most high-tech, wired, “smart” classroom.

I started working at OCAD University in 2002 and moved from a contract position at a smaller Canadian university that likely was going to become a permanent, tenure track position. When the job at OCAD U was posted—even though the pay was not ideal and the faculty status situation not as secure, I took the risk as it offered an ideal opportunity to explore librarianship in a creative research environment, which for me is a perfect way to combine my artistic and academic interests.

What does a typical day at work look like for you? What is usually the highlight of your day?

One of the best things about working in libraries is that there really are no “typical days.” Although I do spend much time in my workweek covering reference desk services, I’m fairly consistently in the classroom offering information literacy sessions for courses, attending curriculum meetings, working on professional development activities, buying books, helping manage our database collections, developing our web site, preparing for conferences, researching and writing, and so on. I feel that, as a librarian, I’m able to define what my work day will look like and not be confined by the classroom, with its set class times, static textbooks, and limited office hours.

Perhaps—in all honesty—the highlight of my day is working at the reference desk. Although many academic librarians are moving away from this service node in favour of the classroom, I find it one of the most vital tools I have as a librarian for communicating collegially with students, staff, and faculty. I can’t count the number of information literacy sessions, collection development requests, and professional networking contacts I’ve made through the random, informal discussions I’ve had at the reference desk. It is a communications platform that is unique; educators such as Paulo Friere often advocate for reform in pedagogy through the use of active learning models which empower researchers to discover their own sense-making pathways to knowledge. I truly feel that the reference desk is one of the most powerful learning spaces we currently have in our educational system for fully embodying a more egalitarian, democratic approach to learning in what Friere calls the “practices of freedom.” It’s because the person asking the question initiates the research journey and, in a way, is in direct control over the educational experience. I work collegially with them to try to come to some resolution, but a reference inquiry is truly a patron-led mode of teaching and learning.

Do you have any advice for current students and/or those on the job market? What are the most important things emerging art librarians should know?

I find this a very difficult question to answer; mainly because we are currently in a very challenging work environment and it seems that many of the older established models for librarianship as a profession are changing. But I would encourage all new librarians to be patient, proactive, and passionate. Patience is required because those perfect jobs are rarely available immediately and realistically one has to build towards this ultimate goal. Sometimes—and this is difficult for me to say as I feel that I do have the perfect job!—these “dream” jobs simply don’t exist, so one is forced to put together a career piecemeal.

This is where the proactive component is important. Being flexible and adaptable; smiling through adversity; being willing to re-locate to begin building one’s career are all essential skills. Yet these diverse experiences, though frustrating at times, will offer a multi-modal knowledgebase to prepare you for the professional agility required in this new economy. Part of being proactive is also realizing that wherever you are working, you can find some way to use these skillsets to learn something and build your overall life experiences.  I remember hearing a comment by a rising young art gallery owner who worked at the OCAD U Library several years ago re-shelving books. He claimed that everything he knows about art theory was gleaned from putting books back on the shelf. It’s not that he learned about these aesthetic theories in depth—this is unquestionably the domain of the studio or classroom; but the library helped him to understand how these theories relate to other ones by their spatial relation to other books on the shelf. Likely all young aspiring librarians know, based on previous student work experiences, how repetitive re-shelving books can be and, perhaps even more tediously, shelf-reading; but this rising new voice in the art world realized that working in a library was a critical, once in a lifetime opportunity and used it for maximum benefit. So if one envisions this “pastiche” of careers as a collage, it does take on a new sense of unity. It may not be a gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) expressing one controlled and contained totality, but a collage has a vitality of its own that, in a way, is more dialogic.

Finally, the passion part ensures that—wherever you end up settling career-wise—the founding vision statements of librarianship stay with you. Whether it be the “Statement on Intellectual Freedom” by the Canadian Library Association or S.R. Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science; these documents are revolutionary and, considering how market-driven, commodified, surveilled, and commercialized our lived spaces are becoming, we need to fight for this last bastion of information equity in our world.

What were/are some challenges for you as an art librarian? What do you think are current challenges in the field of art librarianship or librarianship in general, particularly within Canada?

Be warned: I’m going to go on a bit of a tirade ;-) But perhaps my biggest challenge is the feeling that as a librarian, I’m going head-to-head with the massive multi-billion dollar commercial marketing machine of Google! I am only being slightly facetious though; recent statistics provided by OCLC in their Perceptions of Libraries survey indicate that, almost ubiquitously, people are using search engines such as Google as their sole portal for accessing information for all research needs from personal to academic to professional. Primarily my concern is that Google is a private company and the bottom line for all their services is profit. What’s the bottom line for a library that looks to the “Statement on Intellectual Freedom” for its operational mandate? Social justice, human rights, freedom of information, and the right to privacy!

Linked to the for-profit situation, Google searching has enforced a strange impulse in researchers to approach all topics in an almost myopically literal manner. Given the volume of information accessible on the open internet, generally whatever search topic is entered in Google always guarantees results that are precisely related to the initial search topic. Furthermore, almost ubiquitously, that first web link retrieved is a Wikipedia entry (I mean, really, is Wikipedia always the top source for all searches? Doesn’t this make anyone suspicious?). But for me, the essence of research, especially in the work of creativity, is finding something that you don’t expect and having to struggle to figure out why this new, unanticipated information has been retrieved. This scenario is further exacerbated by Google’s search features that start profiling us individually based on our previous search histories and starts feeding us sites that it thinks that we’d be interest in. This, of course, is the quintessential “filter bubble” scenario. So now in my work as a reference librarian, I find that year-by-year, my new mantra is to plead with researchers to stop thinking so literally and start finding pathways for thinking laterally. Our library search tools and collections are entirely built on this latter premise.

Finally, my third and inter-related concern is that the search engine has completely weaned people off of any other search strategies. Google is always Plan A and in the rare circumstances where it fails, people have no Plan B alternatives. Using library catalogues, abstracts and indexes, a library’s discovery layer, even knowing how to browse for books in a library, have all become so foreign to everyday researchers, that these bibliographic literacy practices have left people’s consciousness as viable alternatives for accessing information. Out of sight; out of mind.

Can you talk a little bit about ways that you draw on the more conventional aspects of your LIS education? And what are some things you’ve had to learn on your own?

As a reference librarian, I’ve found that there are two broad topics that have been essential for my work; one is related to theory (and I wish that this had been taught more consistently in my library sciences’ education) and the other, practice (which I sorely wished that I didn’t have to learn in school, but am now so grateful that I did!).

My first educational principle is a deep, reflective knowledge of the writings of former library science theorists. Much of my current work as a librarian is entirely shaped by Brenda Dervin’s concept of sense-making, Carole C. Kuhlthau’s ISP, and S.R. Ranganathan’s “Five Laws of Library Sciences.” I might have stumbled across these visionaries while researching for LIS essays, but I feel that a required course in library history is essential for all ALA accredited programs. Knowing how library workers throughout history have dealt with new technologies, changing research needs, and new modes of accessing knowledge is critical; now more than ever when the pace of change seems to be moving at lightning speed.

Secondly in regards to practice, while in library school I took a course titled “Thesaurus Construction” in which I received the worst mark on my LIS record and close to the lowest in my entire academic career. The curricular material was gruellingly dull; in one class I fell asleep while tipped back in my chair which was balanced on the back two legs. The clatter and ensuing thud was, I’m sure, deafening.  But since then, I have grown to appreciate how these ways of envisioning information in hierarchies, working from broad to narrow terms, has helped me inordinately in assisting others to make sense of how libraries are organized. I use these principles in all my information literacy sessions, when working on web pages, creating search guides, answering reference questions, even when writing emails. When one thinks about the basic organizational unit for libraries—the call number—this unique coding language embodies the hierarchy of subjects that libraries employ: from main classes to subclasses down to Cutter numbers. These unique identifiers—the URL address for the print book on the shelf—encode how libraries envision knowledge structures and convey our sense-making way of processing ideas in the world. The fact that these indexical symbols then become wayfinding devices makes for a perfect metaphor for the entire library endeavour.

What would you consider the most rewarding parts of your job, and what are your biggest challenges as an information professional in an academic library?

I might use much of my earlier Google tirade to answer this question! But perhaps to emphasize this issue anecdotally: most often when I tell people I work as a librarian, after a brief quizzical pause then the inevitable “you must get to read a lot of books!” comment, people always tend to chime in: “I love libraries; I love the smell of books.” Much as I’m loathe to discourage any positive commendation for libraries in an age when the institution seems in such a precarious state, I have found the phrase too glib, almost dismissive. I think it’s because this colloquialism is so steeped in a romanticized sense of nostalgia that it seems to relegate libraries to the status of a charming old dusty antiquarian shoppe. I feel like I should carry a copy of the CLA Statement on Intellectual Freedom wherever I go and make people read it immediately after saying they love libraries. Libraries—and this is where I get to the part about the “most rewarding” part of my job—are radical institutions that are one of the last bastions for advocating for public empowerment with no strings attached.  In a recent interview, I was asked “What do librarians do all day anyway?” I answered that we create communities through fostering communication. The reason that librarians build collections, evaluate research methodologies, manage data, or teach our users how to become information literate is so that people can become active members of a knowledge community. Not only do we teach people how to ask questions, but—perhaps most importantly—we suggest pathways for answering them.  Again, with no strings attached. We’re not trying to sell products, ideas, or lifestyles. We’re here solely so that people can empower themselves with knowledge. So instead of people saying “I love libraries,” I wish they would be a little more specific and say something like, “I love how libraries are so subversively radical”!

Do you have any insight or advice as to how ArLiSNAP can assist in connecting emerging Canadian and American information professionals?

Keep up your membership with ARLIS/NA! The Society has been so remarkable in maintaining an open line of communication between countries. At the local level, the avenues that ARLIS/NA offers for students in administrative positions and providing special funding grants are commendable, so participating in regional chapters can open a host of professional opportunities and the capability of attending annual conferences which truly are international ventures.

Tell us something fun about yourself! What do you do in your spare time? If you could take a trip right now to visit any library in the world, which would it be?

I have an insatiable appetite for live music and seem to spend almost every weekend visiting Toronto’s Rex Hotel for a weekly dose of jazz. Also, I’ve been a cellist since high school and spent part of my early career as a professional musician.

Playing music has been an essential part of my life; even though I’m not as active now that I work as a full time reference librarian, I have a much more manageable musical schedule. Aside from ongoing annual performances of Handel’s Messiah with Arcady Choir and Orchestra (http://arcady.ca/), I am focused mainly on my role as the principal cellist for the Counterpoint Community Orchestra (http://www.ccorchestra.org/). I find this collegial music-making environment utterly fulfilling. In the past, I had to rely on making money through performing, but now I can relax and enjoy playing the classics of Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and more purely for the sake of making music.

And my response for visiting a library? In all honesty, I would re-do the entire ARLIS/NA 2016 Study Tour to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Den Hague, in the Netherlands (https://www.arlisna.org/studytour2016-Netherlands/). I splurged and took part in this trip and found that every aspect of the trip was magical!

Alt-Career Spotlight: Joanne Fenn, Collections Manager/Museum Registrar for the Kent State University Museum

This series of interviews features 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 the Kent State University Museum, informally known as the “Fashion Museum.” The Kent State Museum contains important collections of fashion and decorative arts. Its seven galleries feature changing exhibitions of work by many of the world’s great designers. Closely linked to the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising at Kent State University, the Museum provides students first-hand experience with historic and contemporary fashions, as well as costumes representing many of the world’s cultures. An extensive collection of American glass, fine furniture, textiles, paintings and other decorative arts combine to give context to the study of design. The Museum serves both the University and the community through exhibitions, public programs, and research appointments in the collections.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your current position?
I have a B.A. in art history, and M.A. in arts administration, and an M.L.I.S.
Prior to KSUM, I worked for 10 years at The Cleveland Museum of Art in their Asian Art department and Registrar’s office.

I am the collections manager/museum registrar for the museum, with the academic rank of associate professor. I find that I need to explain to most everyone what I do. I am responsible for the intellectual and physical organization and care of the collection. The university considers my work as teaching in a non-traditional way; as a practitioner. It is a similar rational for why librarians have an academic rank.

What brought you to your current position?
I was looking for a change for a myriad of reasons from work/life balance to expanded opportunities. The timing was perfect.

What does a typical work day look like for you?
As you can imagine, collections work means the typical work day varies. Some of my favorite variations involve working directly with students hired to help me, and teaching collections management workshops for graduate library science students. I also work with faculty helping to augment classroom pedagogy through use of the collection. Because of the nature of the collection (predominantly light sensitive textiles) there is not a permanent collection gallery. The museum is in exhibition-change mode frequently, and we also travel in-house exhibitions and individual loans. The work ranges from desk work (contracts, “database” projects, grant writing) to projects that require physical strength and agility (installing/de-installing, packing/crating, etc.).

Do you have any advice for current students and/or those on the job market?

Of course to obtain hands-on museum experience through volunteering and internships. Recognize that this is a highly competitive field, so get as much education and training as feasible. Also, be positive; it will happen!

What are some of the current challenges you see in your field or the art/information science field?
Keeping up with technology in a way that serves museums, but does not replace the experience.

Tell us something fun about yourself! What do you do in your spare time? If you could take a trip to visit any library or museum in the world, which would it be?
In my spare time I like to exercise and run. I greatly enjoy spending time with my husband and children, especially if it involves a beach.

If I could visit any museum in the world? That’s difficult! There are so many fascinating collections. I’ll just work my way through as many as I can (especially if it involves a beach).

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.

Maya Lin’s Wave Field & Minoru Yamasaki’s McGregor Reflecting Pool

I work at The University of Michigan Library and am a student in Wayne State University’s School of Information. I wanted to share some of my favorite places and public art pieces on each of these campuses.

Image courtesy of The University of Michigan

Maya Lin’s Wave Field is located on The University of Michigan’s North Campus, tucked between some Engineering School buildings.

Image courtesy of The University of Michigan

Lin was commissioned to create the work in 1995 and describes it as, “pure poetry. It is a very gentle space that exists on a very human scale. It is a sanctuary, yet it’s playful, and with the changing shadows of the sun, it is completely transformed throughout the day. ‘The Wave Field’ expresses my desire to completely integrate a work with its site, revealing the connectedness of art to landscape, or landscape as art.” I love Wave Field and am always taking friends there who have never seen it before. It feels a bit magical, like a secret. If you didn’t know it was there, it would be hard to stumble upon.

Image courtesy of Wayne State University

Minoru Yamasaki designed several buildings on Wayne State University and in the Metro Detroit area. In 1958, the Yamasaki designed McGregor Conference Center was built, which included a beautiful and serene reflecting pool area. The pool lay empty and neglected from the late 90s until more recently, when they were reopened in 2013. The McGregor reflecting pools are truly a gem of the campus and the city of Detroit.

Image courtesy of Wayne State University

Do you have any favorite public artworks?

 

Alt-Career Spotlight: Courtney Baron, Teaching & Learning Librarian at Oxford College of Emory University

This series of interviews features 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. Today we hear from our ArLiSNAP/NA Co-Moderator Courtney Baron!

What is the name of the employer/institution you work for?
I’m the Teaching and Learning Librarian at Oxford College of Emory University. Oxford College is a two-year liberal arts college on the historic Emory campus. We are a teaching- and student-focused campus and our library serves just first and second year students.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your current position?
I have a dual bachelor’s degree in Classical Archaeology and Latin from the University of Georgia. My first library job was directing the Visual Resources Center at the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. I was in the position for 1.5 years while finishing up my MLIS from Valdosta State University. I’ve been at Oxford since January 2016. We are a small library, so I wear many hats and work in all areas of librarianship. My main responsibilities are leading our Research Practices and Events teams, coordinating our information literacy instruction program, and planning our outreach initiatives. I also serve on our Collection Development, Customer Service, Website, and Student Employment teams. There are always new projects to work on! Recently, I curated our new circulating tabletop game collection and just completed our biennial assessment report for the library.

What brought you to your current position?
When I saw the opening for a Teaching and Learning Librarian at Oxford, I decided to go for it since I was hoping to move into a role with instruction responsibilities. I had visited Oxford College a few years prior and really liked the campus. Oxford is unique since it’s a liberal arts college that feeds into a large research university. This means our library has far more resources than the typical liberal arts college of this size (FTE < 1000). Most students live on campus so the library is very busy and a true “hub of living and learning”. I really value the opportunity to work closely with faculty and administrative colleagues on big picture issues, like implementing the new college strategic plan and curriculum. Our Dean is very supportive of professional development and provides generous funding for professional organization memberships, conferences, and continuing education classes.

What does a typical work day look like for you?
No single day is the same which is one of the things I love about my job! On a typical day, I’m usually teaching or planning classes, helping students in research consultations, working on the information desk, planning our next event (like Game Night!), attending meetings, selecting materials or weeding the collection, and supervising student employees. There is a never a dull moment!

Do you stay involved in the field of art librarianship and if so, how?
I’m the personal librarian for art, although Oxford librarians are mostly generalists, since we are expected to teach or work with faculty and students in all subject areas at Oxford. I stay connected by being an active member of ARLIS/NA and serving in various roles. In ARLIS/NA, I’m the 2016-2018 Co-Moderator of ArLiSNAP and the Co-Chair of the Archaeology and Classics SIG. I recently became the Faculty Liaison and Incoming Co-Chair of SEI (Summer Educational Institute for Visual Resources & Image Management) which will allow me to stay connected to the visual resources profession and help with digital imaging and archival projects at my library.

Do you have any advice for current students and/or those on the job market?
For current students:
· Get library experience! Get as much experience as you possibly can even if it doesn’t seem related to the type of librarianship you want to do. For example, the only teaching experience I had before my current position was volunteering to lead introductory Biology classes for the Science Library at UGA. Though it seemed completely unrelated to art librarianship, having experience in the classroom gave me a leg up when I applied for my current position.

For job seekers:
· Don’t hesitate to apply for jobs even if you don’t think you are a strong candidate. I had the opportunity to be on the search committee for our Access Services Librarian position and have helped interview many others for jobs here. Often the people with the most impressive resumes don’t interview as well as other candidates.
· If you’ve been on the job market for a while, try applying for jobs outside of the scope of art librarianship. Though I’m not solely an art librarian, I still work closely with the arts and I’ve gained so many other valuable skills in this position.
· Don’t ignore potentially great jobs just because of the location. I originally didn’t want to stay in Georgia when I started my post-MLIS job search, but now I’m happy I did. My husband and I have been able to pay off over $50k of debt because of the low cost of living here, plus we are near family and friends.

What are some of the current challenges you see in your field or the art/information science field?
Advocating for libraries and librarians remains a challenge. Particularly for instruction librarians, it can be a challenge to convey the value of information literacy and the role we play in the classroom to faculty and administrators. It’s frustrating to be an academic librarian teaching in the classroom with rank and promotion expectations similar to faculty yet still have people assume you read and check out books all day! We need to demonstrate the value of library services and resources to our patrons and stakeholders.

Hack Your Art Librarianship Program: Indiana University, Bloomington

This post was contributed by Andrew Wang. Andrew graduated from Indiana University in 2017 with an M.L.S. and an M.A. in Art History. He is currently the 2017/18 Kress Fellow in Art Librarianship at Yale, dividing his time between the Haas Arts Library and the Yale Center for British Art. Some of his interests include zines, comics, modern and contemporary art, the history of Latin American art, critical librarianship, and queer theory.

Indiana University’s Department of Information & Library Science offers an M.L.S. program with a specialization in Art Librarianship, as well as a dual degree program with the Department of Art History. The programs were recently re-vamped following the appointment of a new Department Chair, with brand new requirements starting fall 2017. Though I completed the dual degree program, I’ll discuss the requirements of both programs. At the end of this post I’ll also share some anecdotes from my peers, as well as my own personal experience.

Art Librarianship Specialization
The Art Librarianship Specialization is designed to steer students toward a career in art librarianship by incorporating relevant coursework into the general M.L.S. program. The Foundation courses required for the M.L.S. include:

· User Services and Tools
· Representation and Organization
· Perspectives on Librarianship
· Elective (from a list of mostly computing/tech-focused options)
· Internship in Information and Library Science

In addition to the Foundation requirements of the M.L.S. degree and 9 more elective credits (courses to be chosen with the Specialization Advisor), the Art Librarianship Specialization requires the following courses:

· The Book to 1450
· Humanities Information
· Internship in Information and Library Science
· Art Librarianship

M.L.S./ M.A. Dual Degree Program
The dual degree program is designed to be completed within 3 years, so there is noticeably less flexibility in terms of course selection and scheduling. On the M.L.S. side, students are required to take the following in addition to the Foundation courses (see above) and 3 elective credits:

· Humanities Information
· Internship in Information and Library Science
· Art Librarianship
· One of the following: Information Architecture for the Web; Online Searching; Indexing;
Digital Libraries

Dual degree students are required to complete 30 M.L.S. credits total, instead of the 36 credits required of Art Librarianship Specialization students. Both are required to complete 2 internships (6 credits, 360 total hours of onsite work). To fulfill the M.A. in Art History requirements, students must complete a Master’s Essay and have reading proficiency in at least one foreign language, as well as 32 course credits in various areas of art history, including two required courses: Historiography and Theories & Methods.

Reflections and Recommendations
With so many recent changes to the program, it’s difficult to say whether the specialization will adequately equip students to enter the field of art librarianship specifically. During my time at Indiana University (2014-2017), my peers often felt that the specialization was lackluster and that it didn’t foster many of the skills that future employers would expect from us. In some cases, some of the required courses weren’t offered for the entire duration of some of my peers’ enrollment in the program, and they often had to arrange for alternate options with their M.L.S. advisors.

The past few years were particularly tumultuous for the specialization due to the high turnover rate of the position of Head of the Fine Arts Library, a position that has also historically assumed the position of adjunct instructor and advisor for the specialization. Though I worked under two amazing advisors/Heads of the Fine Arts Library during my time, their departure from the university left a gaping hole for many of the students who had just started the program. After a semester without an art librarian advisor, the LIS Department recently appointed a new advisor and adjunct instructor to oversee the specialization: Emilee Matthews, Research Librarian for Arts & Visual Studies at UC Irvine (and former Interim Head of the Fine Arts Library and graduate of the dual degree program at Indiana University). This new appointment should help steer the re-designed curriculum.

It’s important to note that many of the opportunities I was afforded during my program are no longer available to current and future students. The Fine Arts Library closed in May 2017 to accommodate major renovations for the adjacent Eskenazi Museum of Art, which will also be temporarily closed for the next few years. Some of my most significant experiences during my program involved working at both the Fine Arts Library and the Eskenazi Museum of Art as a Graduate Supervisor and a Graduate Assistant in the Curatorial Department, respectively. They provided invaluable experiences in supervising, managing workflows, public services, curating, records management, and many other opportunities well beyond the scope of M.L.S. coursework. New students will still have related local resources available (e.g. the Lilly Library and the Glenn A. Black Laboratory for Archaeology), but will be missing out on some exceptional resources that cater specifically to emerging art librarians (i.e. an academic art library and an art museum).

I would personally recommend pursuing the dual degree program if you want to be an art librarian. M.L.S. programs in general only provide you with the bare minimum requirement found in most librarian job postings: an M.L.S. degree. You should structure your own program according to the requirements and preferences of your ideal career, but many art librarian job postings express a desire for candidates with art or art history graduate degrees. I want to stress that it’s not necessary, but it has certainly helped me better communicate with patrons in my current position. Two considerations to keep in mind for the dual degree program are: (1) the M.L.S. and M.A. degrees must be awarded simultaneously, and (2) you will have to submit separate applications to each department. The benefit of receiving both degrees in 3 years rather than 4 (the time it would take if you pursued them separately) was well worth it for me though. Not to mention my affiliation with the Art History Department helped me secure my assistantship, which thankfully provided me with a fee remission. Enrolling in the dual degree program doesn’t guarantee funding, but you’re likely to find more job opportunities outside of the ILS Department.

One of the biggest issues with the M.L.S. program (Art Librarianship Specialization or not) is that the requirements don’t really cover many of the responsibilities you’ll eventually encounter in your career. You’ll have to be strategic about the elective courses you take. In my case, for example, Digital Humanities proved extremely useful. I recommend consulting someone who has the job you want, and choose your electives accordingly. If you have a specific interest in museum librarianship, visual resources, or special collections, for instance, you’ll have to pursue part-time jobs, assistantships, or internships. Those fields intersect with art librarianship, but are not necessarily a major part of either the specialization or the dual degree curriculum. The M.L.S. program also doesn’t require knowledge of a non-English language, something I would highly recommend any art librarian-in-training to pursue.

As with any M.L.S. program, Indiana University’s has its pros and cons. It is far from perfect; it could work on student, staff, and faculty diversity, on administrative communication skills and transparency, on its required coursework, and on its financially inaccessible internship model (paying for credits for unpaid work), to name a few issues. Students, especially those in the Art Librarianship Specialization track and in the dual degree program, will have to take it upon themselves to pursue external opportunities to build a firm foundation for their career. I’m hopeful that the new specialization advisor and the future Art, Architecture, & Design Librarian will provide a refreshed environment for aspiring art librarians. Their mentorship will be just as important than any assortment of courses you take. My last piece of advice for those considering or those recently enrolled in these programs at IU: be proactive about participating in both local and national organizations. Join the Society of Art Librarianship Students (SALS) and be an active member. Join ARLIS/NA and ARLISNAP, go to conferences, tour libraries, meet librarians, present a poster, curate your presence online, etc. Bloomington can be isolating, so tap into regional resources in Indianapolis, Louisville, St. Louis, and Chicago. I’m always open to chat more if you have any questions!

Andrew
aandrewwangg@gmail.com

Alt-Career Spotlight: Suzanne Quigley, Owner at Art & Artifact Services

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 institution/employer you work for?

Art & Artifact Services, my own company, founded in 2005.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your current position?
I have a BFA in painting, an MLIS (UW Madison) and my art history thesis was on 16th century German graphics, specifically the ‘godless painters of Nürnberg’. As an undergrad, I worked in the Art History slide library under the tutelage of Christine Sundt. While in grad school, I wrote a program to catalog 23,000 textiles and provide access on an optical laser disc – that was awhile ago! Upon graduation, I became the visual resources librarian at Kenyon College in Ohio. That was followed by a 7-year stint as Registrar at the Detroit Institute of Arts, followed by 4 years doing the same thing (but on a global scale) at the Guggenheim Museum, followed by 6 years at the Whitney Museum of American Art. At every institution I shepherded the process of identifying and implementing a comprehensive collection management system and making sure the procedures yielded good stuff in/good stuff out. That aside, logistics became another favorite pastime. Currently I manage private and corporate art collections (acquisitions, cataloging, loans, deaccessions, policies, etc.) and occasionally, once the curator knows what she wants, I will manage a traveling exhibition: initial budget estimates, loan negotiation, venue negotiation, insurance, assembly, installation, tours — all the way to dispersal. Soup to nuts!

What brought you to your current position?
When I was about 10 years old, I had a lot of books. Still do! In fact, there were so many that it was necessary to group them to see if I had any books missing in a series. I actually gave them catalog numbers in black marker on the spines. Some of the spines didn’t last, but the will to organize was obvious at an early age. I guess that was the beginning of it all. After many years of museum work, I found myself getting further and further away from the art itself. I had often hired experienced contract registrars so I knew it was a viable field. I also had a rich professional background, a double rolodex, and my husband’s full support to give it a whirl. So, I did the research to establish an LLC, created a graphic identity, a website, a boilerplate contract and haven’t looked back. I stay engaged in the profession and have served as a formal and an informal mentor over the years.

What does a typical workday look like for you?
When I work at a client’s site, I get up early so I can be there at 9, not a small thing as sometimes the commute is 2 hours each way. I might supervise an installation crew, I might review and adjust policies, do some cataloging and/or data entry, take photos of new acquisitions, and with corporate clients there are always meetings. Generally all clients like lots of reports sorted in various ways — ways that are not always an easy call and necessitate the creation new reports on the backend of the database.

But as much of my work (maybe 80%?) can be done in my home office, I first check email while still in bed (a bad habit, but doesn’t everyone?). Once at the computer, I review my todo list, set priorities for the day and I plow through them. I record my tasks and time spent by client for the monthly billing. Email is an annoyance and when I need to concentrate for a prolonged period I will turn it off. My phone is on stun too and I often leave it in the other room and check it whenever I get up to stretch or feed the cats.

Do you have any advice for current students and/or those on the job market?
A variety of internships will stand one in good stead, but it is important to stay engaged, write, attend even local conferences or online seminars. Seek a mentor, keep learning, participate in webinars, join professional groups – c’mon they aren’t that expensive – what? Maybe 4 pizzas? Some associations have student membership levels.

What are some of the current challenges you see in your field or the art/information science field?
Just one example, the international aspect of recording bibliographies in a database can be daunting. I often get bibliographic references in Chinese. Did you know that there is an online ARTFORUM in Chinese?? I can cut and paste Chinese characters into my database, but I have no idea what it says or if the data is in the correct field. That, and the challenge of obtaining archival materials in India and the Far East (with the exception of Japan).

Tell us something fun about yourself! What do you do in your spare time?
I find that cooking a huge meal for friends and family and having the timing come out perfectly is a wonderful diversion. I also like to look out the window of my office. On a clear day I can see the blue mountains of the Catskills on the other side of the Hudson River, about 12 miles away. In the heat of the summer, we like to stay at a thatched roof cabin on a bay in the north of Donegal where our neighbors are cows or sheep.

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.