Thinking about “Folk Art”

This post was sparked by an essay that caught my eye while reading Radical cataloging: Essays at the front, edited by K. R. Roberto (I highly recommend it if cataloging, description, and/or metadata is your thing). The article that intrigued me was a chapter by Joan M. Benedetti, a re-edit of an article that originally appeared in a 2000 issue of Art Documentation, entitled “Words, words, words: Folk art terminology- Why it (still) matters.” Benedetti talks about the mess of issues surrounding terminology like folk art and outsider art. It reminded me of the work of Sanford Berman and Hope Olson. Both Berman and Olson’s seminal works, Prejudices and antipathies: A tract on the LC subject heads concerning people and The power to name: Representation in library catalogs, discuss the biases, and with this power, in the language of the Library of Congress controlled vocabularies. While some time has passed since these works were initially published, 1971 and 1996, librarians are still challenging problems in the language of controlled vocabularies (see Emily Drabinski’s 2013 article “Queering the catalog: Queer theory and the politics of correction”).

Matthew Arient’s Angel by Howard Finster, 1987

 

Before digging into Benedetti’s essay and issues surrounding folk art terminology, I want to present brief definitions of terms that are helpful to think of in the context of this discussion. Definitions have been taken from The Getty Thesaurus for Art and Architecture.

Folk art: Art and crafts that are produced in culturally cohesive communities or contexts, and guided by traditional rules or procedures. It includes paintings, ceramics, textiles, sculpture, and other art forms. It is generally distinct from “naive art,” which is created by those without formal training, but not necessarily within a cohesive cultural community. It is also distinct from “outsider art,” which usually refers specifically to art created or collected according to a philosophy of avoidance of traditional training.

Outsider art: Refers to art created or collected according to a philosophy of avoidance of the conventional fine art tradition. The concept generally refers to art that fits the ideal described by Jean Dubuffet, who posited that art should be inventive, non-conformist, unprocessed, spontaneous, insulated from all social and cultural influences, “brut,” created without thought of financial gain or public recognition, and based upon autonomous inspiration, in direct contrast to the stereotypes of the traditional or official artistic culture. Dubuffet sought such art in the work of psychiatric patients and other insulated individuals. It is generally distinct from “naive art,” which is created by those without formal training, but not necessarily in accordance with the principles described above. It is also typically distinct from “folk art,” which is made according to the rules and traditions of a particular culture.

Naive art: Refers to art created by non-professional artists or artisans who have not had formal training and are often self-taught. It typically displays the artist’s poor grasp of anatomy and lacks mastery of conventional perspective and other hallmarks of trained artists. It includes painting, sculpture, embroidery, quilts, toys, ships’ figureheads, decoys, painted targets, and other objects, and often refers to such objects created specifically in 19th- and 20th-century Europe and North America. It is generally distinguished from “outsider art,” which includes the more extravagant psychotic drawings and other art created or collected according to a philosophy of the avoidance of, rather than simply a lack of, traditional training. It is also usually distinct from “folk art,” which is created according to specific cultural traditions.

Fine art: Genre including physical objects that are that are meant to be perceived primarily through the sense of sight, are of high quality, requiring refined skill in creation, and typically using the media of painting, drawing, or sculpture. It may also refer to architecture and design. Although there is overlap, fine art is generally distinguished from other art forms based on the media, extent of skill, and the level of formal training required. It is distinct from “decorative art” in that the fine arts are art in which the aesthetic or intellectual expression is more prominent than the utilitarian purpose. It is distinct from “crafts,” which are handiworks of media such as ceramics, glass, needlework, or any medium other than painting, drawing, sculpture, or architecture. It is also distinct from “commercial art,” which is created to serve commerce such as in advertisements or illustration.

The Getty Thesaurus of Art and Architecture gives distinct definitions for folk, outsider, and naive art, clearly delineating them as not synonyms to one another. However, these words are still often used interchangeably. This is also not an exhaustive list of terms that are used to describe art of this similar, yet variant nature, but just three I chose to highlight.

Man with a Plow by Bill Traylor, 1939-1942

Folk art, outsider art, and naive art are terms used by individuals in a position of privilege within the institution of fine art to describe the work created by individuals outside of this institution. A dichotomy between those with the power to name and those without, between those who point out this “other” and those who are this “other,” is always problematic. General acceptance of what constitutes fine art is rooted in Western, Eurocentric practice and thought. The land of outsider art, as posited by museum professional Kenneth L. Ames, is largely populated by “minority, marginalized, and unempowered people. (Ames, 1994, p. 255).

Navajo Rug, 1890-1900

Benedetti discusses problems with the overuse of “folk” as a designator for such a wide variety of works. She draws a distinction between items that are created by “culturally cohesive communities” with utilitarian value, such as a Navajo rug, and items created from a “personal consciousness,” which are often idiosyncratic and often “functioning in opposition to any community context,” such as the works of artist Howard Finster (Benedetti, 1987, p. 4). Oftentimes though, both of these types of works would fall under the same category of “folk art.”

The concepts behind folk art terminology is not so simple and further evaluation for nuances, biases, and clarification would be beneficial. Both Benedetti and Ames present issues with the terminology that garners future consideration, thought, and study by scholars, librarians, and anyone with an interest in the power of language.

References

Ames, K.L. (1994). Outside outsider art. In M. D. Hall & E. W. Metcalf, Jr. (Eds.) The Artist outsider: creativity and boundaries of culture (p. 253-271). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Benedetti, J.M. (2000). Words, words, words: Folk art terminology- Why it (still) matters. Art Documentation, 19(1), 14-21.

Benedetti, J. M. (2003). Folk art terminology revisited: Why it (still) matters. In K. R. Robert (Ed.), Radical cataloging: Essays at the front (p. 112-125). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.

Library & Archives Intern (paid) at Toledo Museum of Art

Toledo, OH
POSITION: LIBRARY & ARCHIVES INTERN (Paid)
AVAILABILITY: SUMMER 2018

WHO WE ARE: Since our founding in 1901, the Toledo Museum of Art has earned a global reputation for the quality of our collection, our innovative and extensive education programs, and our architecturally significant campus. More than 30,000 works of art represent American and European painting, the history of art in glass, ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian works, Asian and African art, medieval art, sculpture, decorative arts, graphic arts, and modern and contemporary art.

To accommodate the ever growing collection and demand for art education, the Museum campus has grown exponentially since its founding. From its humble first exhibition space in two rented rooms, the Museum has grown to cover approximately 36 acres with six buildings.

Thanks to the benevolence of its founders, as well as the continued support of its members, the Toledo Museum of Art remains a privately-endowed, non-profit institution and opens its collection to the public—free of charge—six days a week, 309 days a year. We are closed on Mondays and major holidays.

AREAS OF INTERESTS: Library & Information Studies, Archives

SUMMARY: This internship provides students with direct experience processing museum archival material. The internship will focus on our Facilities Plans inventory project. The student will assist with processing and inventorying of blueprints and other physical plans in this archival collection. Responsibilities will include arranging records, data entry and assisting with the creation of catalog records and a finding aid for the collection. Other responsibilities may include assisting with other archival request or projects at they may arise or the intern may have interest in.

RELATIONSHIPS: Mentorship from the Head Librarian and other library and archives staff; participation in library & archives staff meetings.

EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE & COMPETENCIES: Active college enrollment status at the graduate level preferred; library and information science, archives, or related concentration/major; coursework or experience in archival processing or description preferred; comfort working independently; computer savvy and proficient in Microsoft Office and related software; extreme attention to detail; innovative and self-motivated.

WORK ENVIRONMENT: Standard office work environment with related phone, computer and printer noise; position requires ability to lift boxes and retrieve material as needed and the ability to leverage technology including computer, printer and phone systems; the person in this position may be required to communicate with public and staff who have inquiries and must be able to exchange accurate information in these situations.

The Toledo Museum of Art provides equal opportunity for employment and promotion to all qualified employees and applicants. No person shall be discriminated against in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status or any other status or condition protected by applicable federal or state statutes. The Museum is committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are treated equitably and given the opportunity to achieve their full potential in the workplace.

Apply through link: http://www.toledomuseum.org/about/jobs-volunteer/employment/

Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Home Grown Curatorial Fellowship

National Museum of Mexican Art/DuSable Museum of African American History – Chicago, IL
$38,000 a year – Full-time, Temporary
Job Summary

Through a generous three year grant awarded by the Ford and Walton Family Foundations the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) and the DuSable Museum for African American History (DuSable), two museums that have successfully trained and provided sustained employment for curators and arts administrators, will implement its inaugural Home Grown Curatorial Fellowship program for graduate students of color or whom identify as ALAANA (African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab, Native American). Fellowships will provide candidates with an opportunity to learn, engage, and be mentored by curatorial and museum professionals who are leaders in first voice organizations.

The National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) and the DuSable Museum of African American History (DuSable) seeks two enthusiastic and capable graduate or post-graduate students to gain intensive training and mentorship in the field of curatorial and archiving studies by working alongside Visual Arts and Permanent Collections curators at NMMA and Archivist & Special Collections Librarians at DuSable. Each institution will host one fellow per year, over a 12 month period. Qualified applicants will be invited to indicate their preference for fellowship assignment.

The Home Grown Fellows will participate in their respective institutions’ special projects, including external workshops and artistic programs that advance the missions of the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) and DuSable Museum of African American History (DuSable), promote and support creative leadership and support the joint mission to build a foundation for students of color to gain access to leadership positions in all museums. Fellows may have the opportunity to study, research and examine collections, organize thematic exhibitions related to African American and Mexican history, culture or particular genres and assist in the preparation, documentation and organization of past, present and future exhibitions.

Each Home Grown Fellow will have the opportunity to select a mentor, who may be different from their supervisor. Fellows will also undertake an independent capstone project in consultation with their supervising curator, archivist librarian and institution mentor.

Each fellow will have the opportunity to interact with one another, NMMA and DuSable through exhibition openings, staff/departmental meetings, networking events, workshops and internal discussions that build relationships and foster a community of intellectual scholarly engagement.

Fellowship Period

Fellowships are 12 months in length, May 2018 through May 2019 . All fellowships must take place and capstone project completed within this 12 month period.

Fellowship Eligibility

All applicants must meet the following requirements to be considered for a Home Grown Fellowship, in addition to NMMA and DuSable institutional requirements.

Be currently enrolled in the last year of graduate school and/or hold a recent (earned in the last 2-3 years) graduate degree in library science (MLS, MLIS, MIS, MS), art history or museum studies from an ALA accredited school
Successful candidates must be able to provide proof of eligibility to work in the United States
Have a demonstrated interest in museum and exhibition administration and/or archives administration and management, museum studies, art history, anthropology, Latin American and/or African American studies, or archaeology
Located within a 400 mile radius of Chicago, IL
APPLICATION PROCEDURES

All applicants applying for the Home Grown Fellowship at National Museum of Mexican Art must submit the following:

Cover letter stating their interest in the fellowship. Applicants must indicate their choice of host institution
Full curriculum vitae of education, professional experience, honors, awards and publications
Official copy of graduate transcript, with graduation date or anticipated date of graduation and copy of classes currently enrolled in if applicable
A statement, not to exceed 1,500 characters, specifying your areas of research/interests.
If candidates are applying to National Museum of Mexican Art as host institution, please include the following in your statement:

Your relationship to NMMA, Mexican Art or culture
Relevant experience related to your curatorial and/or archival proposed project
The importance of this fellowship to their future career and what they hope to learn from the experience.
If candidates are applying to DuSable as host institution, please include the following in your statement:

their interest in African American history and archival collections
what they can contribute to the host repositories
their experience with electronic media and social networking tools
their view on the importance of increasing diversity in the archival profession
what they hope to learn from the experience
the importance of this fellowship to their future career
Contact information for three people who will provide recommendation letters (at least one academic and one professional), none of whom are current NMMA or DuSable employees. Once you have submitted your recommenders’ names, titles and email addresses, they will receive emailed instructions for uploading their recommendation letters online.
To be considered for the Home Grown Fellowship, all candidates must complete the application and follow all application procedures.

The 2018/2019 Home Grown Application can be found here https://goo.gl/forms/Oflj4CcfA3mPX8El2

The deadline for all application materials, including letters of recommendation, is February 19, 2018, by 11:59 pm CST . Fellowship decisions will be announced by April 2, 2018.

Responsibilities and Duties

Fellows should apply to the institution whose job description best suits your career path.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MEXICAN ART

JOB DESCRIPTION

POSITION TITLE: Home Grown Fellow

REPORTS TO: Director of Visual Art’s/Chief Curator, Registrar, Permanent Collection Curator or Associate Curator

POSITION FUNCTION: To aid the Visual Arts Director, Registrar, Permanent Collection Curator and Associate Curator in tasks related to the care, preservation, documentation and presentation of artworks at NMMA. There will be light maintenance tasks pertaining to art installation or gallery preparation.Fellows will take field trips throughout and beyond the Chicago-area to conferences and to visit other first-voice museums. Finally, Fellows will be required to keep a log of their experiences and progress throughout the fellowship.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Assists in cataloguing preparing and packing of Permanent Collection
Assists in the preparation, documentation and/or organization of past, present and future exhibitions
Assists in creating/updating exhibition and artist files
Assists in conducting research to label and interpret artwork as well as catalogs objects and updates computerized museum records
Assists in the care and presentation of artwork in the Museum’s collection, both in storage and on display within as well as outside of the Museum and throughout the Museum’s website
Complete program Capstone Project within the 12 month Fellowship appointment
MANDATORY JOB QUALIFICATIONS:

Have a demonstrated interest in museum and exhibition administration and/or archives administration and management, museum studies, art history, anthropology, Latin American studies, or archaeology
Have interest in documenting and caring for art and historical artifacts
Strong knowledge of Mexican or Mexican American history/culture and command of the Spanish language both written and spoken
Excellent verbal and written communication skills and public speaking
Must be highly organized, detail-oriented, and able to multi-task
Ability to work well in a fast-paced team environment, as well as independently, and adapt to flexible hours as necessary
Ability to handle art objects carefully
Ability to accurately capture images of artwork on a large bed scanner, easel and backdrop
Lift 40 lbs and climb ladders
Excellent computer skills (Mac preferred)
Experienced in Filemaker Pro and Photoshop
DuSable Museum of African American History

Job Description

POSITION TITLE: Home Grown Fellow

REPORTS TO: Archivist and Special Collections Librarian and Manager of Education

POSITION FUNCTION: To aid the Archivist and Special Collections Librarian and Manager of Education in tasks related to the care, documentation and presentation of art works, artifacts and archival materials at the DuSable Museum of African American History.

FELLOWSHIP DESCRIPTION

During the immersion training program, fellows will receive training in arrangement, description, preservation, reference, and outreach for collections of African American artwork, artifact and archival materials. Fellows may have the opportunity to process collections and create EAD and EAC-CPF finding aids and will learn to appropriately utilize Library of Congress Subject Headings to provide access points to African American materials in print, video, and electronic resources. Fellows will attend lectures presented by Mexican American and African American scholars and representatives from other Mexican American and African American museums and archival repositories. The purpose of these lectures is for fellows to gain a deeper understanding of African American history. Fellows will also take field trips throughout and beyond the Chicago-area.

Fellowship Responsibilities:

Fellows will be required to organize a public program/community outreach event(s) (lecture, exhibit, etc.), and implement social media or other online resources while in residency at their host institution. They will also be expected to give presentations on their education and career choice to other students at the high school (and undergraduate levels) and will be required to submit for panel participation, papers, and posters at professional conferences such as Black Caucus of the American Library Association/American Library Association (BCALA/ALA), Society of American Archivists (SAA), Midwest Archives Council (MAC), and other related conferences. Finally, Fellows will be required to keep a log of their experiences and progress throughout the fellowship.

MANDATORY JOB QUALIFICATIONS:

Have a demonstrated ability and relevant coursework in museum and exhibition administration and/or archives administration and management, museum studies, art history, anthropology, or archaeology with a focus on African American/Black/Afro Caribbean studies
Have interest in documenting and caring for art and historical artifacts
Strong knowledge of African American history/culture
Excellent verbal and written communication skills
Must be highly organized, detail-oriented, and able to multi-task
Ability to work well in a fast-paced team environment, as well as independently, and adapt to flexible hours as necessary
Ability to handle art objects, artifacts and archives carefully
Ability to accurately capture images of artwork on a large bed scanner, easel and backdrop
Excellent computer skills
Benefits

Each fellow will receive an annual salary of $38,000, plus fringe benefits and an allocated fellowship research allowance to be used solely for travel related to fellowship assignments, conferences and museum visits arranged after acceptance into fellowship program.

Fellows should be prepared to relocate to the Chicago area at the time of Fellowship, without additional financial compensation, and are required to live in the Chicago area for the tenure of the Fellowship.

Job Types: Full-time, Temporary

Salary: $38,000.00 /year

Required education:

Master’s

Required language:

Spanish

Introducing Feature Post Writer Sarah Bilotta!

Hi, everyone!

I am so excited to be a part of ArLiSNAP as a Feature Post Writer. I graduated with my MLIS (with a concentration in Archival Studies) in May 2017 from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. As a distance learning student, I love talking about the wonderful experience I had studying at UWM online.

Since 2013 I have been working in an academic performing arts library, where I do a lot of cataloging, supervising student staff, research assistance, outreach, and whatever else I can get my hands on! I am also a volunteer librarian for a small art museum. My interests in the information profession include audio-visual resources, museum libraries, arts research & instruction, and archival management and preservation. In my spare time I am a professional music and arts writer and photographer. I look forward to being part of this amazing group!

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!

Hack Your Art Librarianship Program: The University of North Texas

This Hack Your Art Librarianship Program post is contributed by Cassie Swayze. Cassie is a recent graduate of the University of North Texas and is interested in the convergence of fine arts, digital technologies and long-term preservation solutions. She currently resides in Austin, TX and can be found on Twitter @castleswayze. When she isn’t blogging or library-ing, she can be found reading longform articles and swimming in lakes, creeks and streams around Central Texas.

The University of North Texas (UNT) Information Science school is an ALA accredited program located in Denton, TX. The program requirement is 39 credits including the practicum and capstone courses. Incoming students can choose to major in either MS-Information Science or MS-Library Science. I received my degree from UNT this fall (just two short weeks ago), and elected to complete the MS-LS degree. Although, program staff strongly encourage me to pursue an Information Science degree because it is more versatile. However, my career objectives are focused on employment in either a fine art museum environment or humanities archives and the Library Science track was a better fit for my personal goals. This post will focus on the MS-LS program but you can read more about the IS track on their website [http://informationscience.unt.edu/].

The MS-LS can be completed online or in-person, or a combination of online and in-person. I live and work in Austin, and the UNT program is based in Denton (about an hour north of Dallas), so my program was primarily completed remotely. However, there were students in my cohort who completed a mix of online and in-person coursework, and it is feasible to tailor your experience depending on your location. I also encountered students in my cohort located across the country from California to Maine. Each region is assigned its own cohort but students interact with each other primarily through their program of study (more on that below). For example, one of my fellow students was located in the Bay Area and completed a wide variety of internships from area museums to the Internet Archive. There are advantages and disadvantages to pursuing an online experience. I elected to complete the majority of my coursework remotely because I did not want to relocate from Austin. I was also fortunate to obtain my degree debt free because I was working full-time and attended as an in-state resident.

Students enrolled in the MS-LS can select from seven different programs of study to tailor their degree experience. Students may also complete the general program of study for librarianship. Your selected program does not appear on your transcript or diploma but serves as a guideline for course selection. Students pursuing the online program are encouraged to speak with their advisors throughout the program and advisor approval is required before enrolling in courses each semester. I chose to speak with my advisor via telephone prior to each semester and emailed past instructors seeking advice about coursework selection. I was quite nervous about the level of involvement from faculty and program staff prior to enrollment, but everyone was readily available to advise and answer my questions. I only visited the advising office in person one time in two years (which was really different than my undergraduate experience)! Beyond the program of study guidelines each student must complete and pass three required courses: Information and Knowledge Professions, Information Organization, and Information Access and Knowledge Inquiry. The three core courses require in-person attendance at a two day institute either in Denton or a city based in your cohort\’92s region. These core classes were the only time I interacted with students outside my program of study and I found it refreshing to hear perspectives from student librarians, music librarians, metadata specialists, cataloguers, health informatics, etc.

Additional mandatory requirements include two guided electives selected from a predetermined list with the assistance of your advisor. Finally, all students must complete an 120 hour practicum. There is an option to waive the practicum if you have been or are already employed in a library or related organization (archive, museum). Although I qualified for a waiver, I chose to complete the practicum because it was excellent work experience and an opportunity to develop workflows using the applications and databases I learned about throughout my coursework. One big advantage to the online coursework is that the practicum can be completed anywhere. The UNT LIS program maintains an active graduate list serve where local and national organizations advertise opportunities for practicums and employment opportunities. The Dallas Museum of Art’s reference library and the Southern Methodist University (SMU) art library recently advertised practicum opportunities on the list serve, and the Amon Carter Museum of Art in Fort Worth occasionally posts advertisements for students in the local area.

I chose to complete my practicum with the UNT Special Collections Library and worked directly with the Portal to Texas History digital library describing records and performing metadata creation. Although my practicum was not in the fine arts I worked at the Blanton Museum of Art throughout my program. I was also able to perform processing duties at the Harry Ransom Center humanities library and collaborated on digital projects with staff at the Blanton Museum while enrolled. These experiences certainly made my online degree program feel worthwhile and diverse, but UNT LIS students must be proactive in seeking out opportunities themselves. I also joined professional organizations (student discounts!) and attended webinars whenever my schedule allowed. One big difference between an in-person versus virtual experience is that students have to be motivated about networking and internship opportunities. I was able to develop my resume while enrolled at UNT without relocating or pursuing financial assistance, which was ideal for my personal/family life. The UNT LIS department also offers scholarship assistance to enrolled students and has a lengthy menu of scholarships available. I was told during one of the core institutes that the department frequently has funds leftover from unclaimed scholarships.

The program of study selected by students provides guidelines for the remainder of the required credits for the degree plan. Although I entered the program intending to pursue art librarianship my interest pivoted to archival studies and digital humanities once I was enrolled. The program relies heavily on project-based learning and I was able to tailor my research to arts communities and user groups. In my personal experience, metadata and cataloging coursework at UNT accounted for visual arts resources and their unique traits. I was able to use any project-based learning to examine LIS issues in art museums. Frequently I used these opportunities to examine digital scholarship in fine arts environments.

During my second semester, my advisor recommended enrolling in Introduction to Digital Libraries, which was offered as a five week course during the truncated May-June term. The course was taught by Dr. Jeonghyun Kim and introduced me to digital curation, which was my academic focus throughout my program. UNT also offers a Graduate Academic Certificate (GAC) in digital curation, although, unfortunately the offerings required for the curation GAC did not align with my academic schedule. Instead, I completed the GAC in Archival Management & Imaging Technology with special focus on born-digital and digitized archives, and explored the integration of digital libraries and digital exhibitions into preexisting arts communities. I enjoyed my coursework in digital curation immensely and was able to apply the principles to my archival studies. Art museums and art libraries, especially in academia, are more committed than ever to preserving born-digital records and digitizing existing collections. The digital curation coursework was the most valuable information I encountered at UNT and Dr. Kim was one of my favorite instructors. I continued to encounter the standards and principles taught in my digital curation courses in nearly every other class throughout the program. Beyond digital curation, I focused on archival studies in humanities repositories and art museums. My coursework was mostly taught by adjuncts who are professionals in the field, and their real world advice was extremely valuable.

The degree plan allows students to pace themselves according to their personal and financial capabilities, and I elected to complete my degree in 24 months. Full-time workers are encouraged to take no more than six credits (two courses) per semester but there were colleagues in my archival cohort who enrolled in nine credits. Personally, I took nine credits during each summer term and it was very challenging to maintain the pace while conducting in-depth research. I completed my practicum while enrolled in both guided electives, each of which focused on metadata creation. There were many late nights trying to puzzle out an assignment about VRA Core or MODS while juggling my description duties for the Portal to Texas History. I would not recommend agreeing to this many obligations while working full-time; it was very challenging to remain focused and manage my personal schedule beyond school/work.

I have nearly a decade of experience in the fine arts, working in galleries, nonprofit arts organization, and art museums. The decision to pursue art librarianship was a longtime dream and felt integral to my personal career goals. However, there are salary limitations to librarianship (as most of you reading understand!), and I could not justify pursuing a degree with large out of pocket costs. Like the LIS program offered by San Jose State University, the UNT LIS degree is designed to advance students’ careers who are already employed full or part-time. Faculty and staff possess an understanding of working professionals unique needs, and I found that most faculty (and definitely the advising office) are compassionate towards remote students’ specific limitations. Throughout my program I met and collaborated with students employed in libraries, archives and museums, and they brought unique, real world experiences to our discussions. I really enjoyed the diverse perspectives because learning about librarianship and archival studies in theory is quite different than in practice.

The online program relies heavily on Blackboard discussion forums and GoToMeetings for lectures so a dependable Internet connection and reliable computer hardware is necessary. I returned to graduate school after seven years in the workforce so there was a slight technology learning curve for me. I also enjoyed pacing myself and my work load throughout the program. My time management and organizational skills improved ten-fold and I mastered effective online writing and communication skills. There are several other excellent LIS programs in Texas, but I would recommend pursuing the UNT program if you are a working professional seeking to expand your skills. If you are already employed in a library, art museum or humanities archive, the MS-LS or MS-IS provides an opportunity to gain academic credentials and expand your skill set without committing to full-time coursework.

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?

 

Why Attending Conference is Important!

Two of our ArLiSNAP Volunteers discuss their experiences of going to conference as new professionals.

Angelique Roy is the Community Outreach & Volunteer Services Program Librarian at Cochrane Public Library. She is serving as the ArLiSNAP Canadian Liaison and is also the Secretary/Treasurer for ARLIS/NA Canada. You can learn more about Angelique from her welcome post on the ArLiSNAP Blog.

Anna van Someren is the Access Services Librarian at Harvard University, where she started this past August. Anna has written many feature posts for our ArLiSNAP blog. You can read some of Anna’s blog posts as well as her welcome post on our blog.

For more information about our campaign, or to donate, please check out our GoFundMe page.

 

Angelique Roy, ArLiSNAP Canadian Liaison

What is your favorite part about attending an ARLIS/NA conference?

I have been fortunate enough to attend two ARLIS/NA conferences now, one during my final year as a student and one during my first year as a “professional.” I would have to say that my favourite part of the conference has been meeting likeminded people and sharing that excitement and energy with hundreds of others already working (or trying to work, like myself) in the field of art librarianship. It is such an excellent opportunity for networking to meet people from across Canada and the US and to see what kinds of projects and initiatives are currently underway in the field. And if we’re being honest, also the awesome receptions, usually held at beautiful museums or galleries or libraries. Those are a lot of fun J

 

How has attending ARLIS/NA impacted your professional career?

I would like to think it has. I feel so much more connected to the profession than I would if I wasn’t able to attend the conference. This year, after having attended the conference in New Orleans, I came home and felt truly inspired to get involved and follow my passion for the arts. With that said, I have become more actively involved with ArLiSNAP and ARLIS/NA Canada and have been generally seeking out opportunities within the field whether it’s part of my career path or just volunteer roles within the city of Calgary where I’m living.

 

Why do you feel it is important for new professionals to attend conferences?

I think it is important for new professionals to attend the conference because we spend most of our time as students being scared and worrying about the future and our careers. Sometimes we second guess if we’re going down the right path, if we’ll ever get a job in the field, if we’ll ever be as good as other librarians/archivists we know, but I think the conference puts some of those fears and doubts at bay. I feel much more confident now after having attended two conferences, and speaking at one, that I did make the right choice, and I am determined to find work in this field in (Western) Canada (because that can sometimes be the trickiest part).  Once you attend you meet new people who can guide, inspire, support, and advise you and this makes being a new professional a whole lot easier and less intimidating.

 

What are some of the challenges you face in getting to conference?

Of course the number one challenge for most of us, I think, is the cost. It is really challenging to attend a conference in another country when you aren’t currently working or maybe your position doesn’t support this type of conference, or any number of other factors that might come into play depending on your circumstances. In addition to that, I think that time/timing is a challenge. If you start a new job, you may not be entitled to vacation right away or your job might not yet be in the field of art librarianship so getting that time off can be difficult. However, where there’s a will there’s a way! Though I would still say that funding (or lack thereof) would be the biggest challenge I face in getting to an ARLIS/NA conference.

 

Do you feel a travel award targeted at new professionals is needed and why?

YES! I think a travel award targeted at new professionals is so important. Namely for all of the reasons I listed above, but because early career librarians should have the opportunity to attend conferences, meet and get to know their peers, get inspired, explore a new city, and learn about what practices/initiatives/ideas/projects are happening in the profession without a financial impediment!

 

Anna van Someren, ArLiSNAP Feature Post Writer

What are some of the challenges you face in getting to conferences?

I graduated recently and I’m applying for jobs and I really want to go to the conference in New York but I don’t know exactly where I’ll be at that point. I’m applying for academic positions and positions at art institutions and there is no guarantee that my employer at that time will have an interest in supporting me to attend conferences so it might be difficult financially because in school you can apply for a stipend but when you’re a new professional, depending on where you’re employed, you might kind of be on your own.

 

What was your favorite part of attending an ARLIS/NA Conference?

My favorite part about attending my first ARLIS/NA Conference was just how welcoming and open everyone was. I knew some people because I had already attended a few meetings of my local chapter and they were all there at ARLIS/NA and they were so generous with their time and so helpful. They introduced me to so many people and it wasn’t just the people that I knew from my local chapter but everyone that I met at the conference was just so welcoming and so genuinely interested in meeting new people and that was really important to me because it can be kind of overwhelming and a little bit intimidating when you’re trying to enter into a new field.

 

Why do you think it’s important for New Professionals to attend conferences?

I think it’s important for new professionals to attend conferences like ARLIS/NA because you meet people who have been working in the field for decades. You get to hear them speak. You learn so much and it’s really inspiring. It makes you really excited about the possibilities of your own career and you also meet people like you who are just graduating or just in their first or second job, kind of early in their career and you can kind of find a community of people there too.

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.

Collection Development Librarian – Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Duties & Responsibilities

Harvard University seeks an innovative, collaborative, and user-centered Collection Development Librarian to build and manage collections for one of the leading libraries in the world for the study of art, architecture, and visual culture from antiquity to the present. Reporting to the Herman and Joan Suit Librarian of the Fine Arts Library, the incumbent will select monographs and serials in all formats and work collaboratively with selectors in the Fine Arts Library and across Harvard Library. The incumbent will proactively partner with Harvard Library colleagues to develop creative solutions and efficient workflows for managing, acquiring, processing, and preserving library materials. He/she will actively engage with the visual arts community at Harvard to support innovative use of library collections in their teaching, research, and learning activities. To expand access to the Fine Arts Library’s unparalleled holdings of books, journals, visual resources, and special collections to a wider global audience, the Collection Development Librarian will participate in local, national, and international digital initiatives and collaborative collection development partnerships.

TYPICAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

·         Perform monograph and serial collection development processes in the Fine Arts Library for the Americas, Western Europe and portions of Eastern Europe (from antiquity to 1900), Africa, Australasia, Oceania, and other southern Pacific nations in all formats.

·         Work together with the Librarian and other Fine Arts Library selectors for Islamic, East Asian, Modern and Contemporary, and Special Collections to acquire antiquarian monographs, serials, and primary sources.

·         Ensure effective stewardship of the materials budget, including monitoring acquisition budgets and fund assignments for 8,000-10,000 titles annually, ongoing assessment of budget allocations, establishing target deadlines for ordering materials, and prioritizing requests for endowment and end-of-year purchasing.

·         Actively contribute to relevant Harvard College and Harvard Library collection development working groups, committees, councils, and innovative projects.

·         Maintain and update Fine Arts Library collection policy in consultation with FAL selectors and collection development colleague across the Harvard Libraries.

·         Continuously evaluate print and digital publication trends in art history, architectural history, and the fine and applied arts.

·         Communicate regularly about current and emerging research areas and interests with faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, Harvard Art Museum educators, curators, fellows, and interns, and visiting scholars.

·         Exchange information and best practices proactively with selectors in the Harvard College Library and across the Harvard Libraries for shared purchases, purchase recommendations, and intentional duplication.

·         Contribute to collaborative collection development and digital projects with external partners, e.g., Ivies Art and Architecture Group.

·         Create and maintain in-depth and relevant content for multiple web presences for Fine Arts Library collections and collection-related events and news.

·         Assess collection strengths and correct weaknesses for curricular and research support and create routine and customized acquisitions and collections reports using COGNOS and other tools.

·         Establish and maintain effective and efficient relationships with approval, firm order, and antiquarian vendors and booksellers.

·         Work together with the Librarian and other Fine Arts Library selectors to negotiate and acknowledge gifts of materials and funds.

·         Work proactively and collaboratively with Information Technology Services staff to insure consistent and efficient vendor relations and processing routines.

·         Work proactively and collaboratively with Access Services collection management staff to plan for collection care, and stack space planning, and ongoing transfer of materials to the Harvard Depository.

·         Work proactively and collaboratively with Preservation, Conservation, and Digital Imaging on disaster planning, collections care guidelines, environmental concerns, and digital preservation and access projects.

·         Participates in research services and activities, including contributing to regular hours of support for special collections researchers in collaboration with other librarians. Provides in-depth research consultations and interprets and resolves complex reference questions for library patrons, as needed.

Position will remain posted until filled, however applications will be reviewed beginning November 3, 2017.

At the Harvard Library, our work is enriched by our diverse campus community. Our unique and wide-ranging abilities, experiences, and perspectives are integral to achieving Harvard University’s mission of excellence in research, teaching, and learning for our patrons, our collections, and our workplace. We believe that an inclusive environment that cultivates and promotes understanding, respect, and collaboration across our diverse workforce enables our success.

We encourage individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences and abilities to apply to be a part of our community of over 700 staff members. Our work with faculty, students and researchers to explore answers to intellectual questions, enduring and new, and to seek solutions to the world’s most consequential problems, requires that we not only reflect, but also champion our diverse society.

A global leader, the Harvard Library is a pre-eminent research library that acquires, disseminates, and preserves knowledge. Harvard’s Library holdings range from traditional print collections to rapidly expanding inventories of digital resources. It is the work of the Harvard Library to provide the University’s faculty, students, and researchers-now and in the future-with comprehensive access over time to all of these materials.

Learn more about our contributions to the academic enterprise by visiting us at http://lib.harvard.edu/about-usand about the Harvard University community at http://hr.harvard.edu/why-harvard.

The Harvard Library is a proud member of the ACRL Diversity Alliance.

Job Function
Library

Sub Unit
————

Location
USA – MA – Cambridge

Department
Harvard College Library – Fine Arts Library

Time Status
Full-time

Union
00 – Non Union, Exempt or Temporary

Salary Grade
057

Pre-Employment Screening
Criminal, Education, Identity

EEO Statement
We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by law.

Harvard University seeks an innovative, collaborative, and user-centered Collection Development Librarian to build and manage collections for one of the leading libraries in the world for the study of art, architecture, and visual culture from antiqu, Harvard University seeks an innovative, collaborative, and user-centered Collection Development Librarian to build and manage collections for one of the leading libraries in the world for the study of art, architecture, and visual culture from antiqu

Basic Qualifications

·         Master’s degree in library and/or information science or equivalent experience

·         A minimum of 5 years of experience in collection development/acquisitions experience required.

·         Extensive in-depth knowledge of the field of Art and Architectural History

·         Working knowledge of Western European languages.

·         Hands-on experience with library systems acquisitions, budgeting, and reporting applications.

·         Expert level experience with arts and humanities databases and other digital research tools.

·         Experience working with book publishing and the book trade.

·         Excellent verbal and written communication and interpersonal skills to work effectively with culturally diverse library users and colleagues.

 

Additional Qualifications

·         Advanced degree in Art History, or equivalent, preferred.

·         Evidence of a strong service orientation and demonstrated ability to work effectively with faculty, students, library users, and library colleagues.

·         Knowledge of scholarly communication trends and commitment to principles of open access.

·         Knowledge of intellectual property issues related to art library collections and services.

·         Strong technology skills and an enthusiasm for adopting new technologies and systems that expand access to collections and to facilitate their use in research and teaching.

·         Record of engagement with professional groups and activities and/or contributions to professional or scholarly literature.

 

PHYSICAL DEMANDS

·         The ability to lift, carry, and position books and other materials weighing up 15 lbs.

·         The ability to use desktop (keyboard, monitor, and mouse) and mobile computing tools, such as laptops and tablets.

 

WORK ENVIRONMENT

·         The work associated with this position is performed in an office, reading room, and library stack settings.

 

Apply Here: http://www.Click2apply.net/hsf6thw29ttkx7rm