Tips For the Non-Art Librarian (or Notes From the Field)

This post is in the vein of the Hack Your Art Librarianship Program series from awhile back, but has been tailored to reflect what some people may be experiencing professionally–working in a library but not an art library or as an art librarian. 

My ultimate career goal is to work as an art librarian. Even though I have this fancy new volunteer position as a feature post writer for ArLiSNAP, I’m not there yet. Currently, I work as the Collection Development & Assessment Librarian at a medium sized liberal arts college in the southeast. I’ve worked at a public library, and now two academic libraries, both in “paraprofessional” and “professional” positions, but never has it been my J O B to liaise with art faculty, perform collection development specifically for a fine arts collection, do instruction primarily for fine arts or art history courses, or any of the other number of things art librarians do.

However, I have forced myself my way in to some of these roles, and I’m going to offer tips based on my experience on how to do that now.  Before I get started, I will say that I had the advantage of teaching art history at the community college where I worked, so I had a bit of a foot in the door, but I think these tips will help anyone who is interested in the visual arts get involved on their own campus.

In my last position, I started as a reference specialist. Later, I worked as an instruction librarian at the same place, but I started before I finished library school. This meant that I was not a L I B R A R I A N, but I was allowed to staff the reference desk, assist students with their research needs, and get to know the campus staff and faculty as much or as little as I wanted to. I’m a gregarious sort of person, so I found myself on a number of committees and BAM I was “liaising” whether I meant to or not.

Here are a few personal tips I have for those who are gaining experience working in an academic (community college) library, but are not officially getting the experience they want to develop the skills necessary to become an art librarian.

1. Roam Around! All too often, we academic library professionals (and I use this term broadly, because I believe that staff members are professionals) are siloed in the library. Stuck there. Like, “Oh! You’re out of the library” style confusion when you’re not there. If [you’re able to] take a break and walk around, you get to know people, which helps you form connections that you can use later when you get a great idea for programming or the collection that relates to the visual arts, even if that isn’t technically your job (but don’t do SO MUCH that you are working outside of your pay grade…that is important. I will repeat it later).

This one can be difficult. Maybe you’re an introvert or the culture at your place of work doesn’t invite casual conversation or even allow leaving the library during work hours. I get that. But if you’re able to, I say take a break and maybe a little walk.

I would also like to add on here: if you find a librarian or faculty member who is friendly, turn to them with questions when you have them. One of my colleagues helped mentor me through library school and is now one of my closest friends. She’s not an art librarian, but she is an excellent librarian and was supportive of my goals. You just never know who is going to make an impact for you.

2. Get to the know the collection. In my position as reference specialist at a community college, I spent over two years getting to know the collection generally. But I also took the time to specifically get to know the art section. Because I walked around it regularly, touching the books, tidying up, and helping students find materials for their research, I often had ideas to share with the collection development librarian about how to improve upon what we already owned (she was very supportive of this, again, I was lucky). Through getting to know the area of the collection I loved the most, I straight up inserted myself in the collection development process. When a faculty member came to her to ask for some reinvigoration in the art history print collection, our CD librarian came to me to help. I was able to gain experience doing collection development as well as collection development in the art section. This also gave me knowledge of publishers of art books and helped me to get a feel for what is being published in our field right now. I realize not everyone will have this opportunity. But either way, the more you know about your collection, the more expertise you will have fine arts print collections when you go for an interview at an art library or as a subject specialist in an academic library.

3. Join some committees. This connects to the Tip #1 ^. Maybe this one is just an extension of #1, but I think it’s important. Here’s where I remind you though – if you feel joining committees is above your pay grade, do not do it. Don’t let them exploit you. Don’t let someone tell you it is your job to serve on some planning committee just because they don’t want to do it if it is not actually in your job description. Especially if you’re not being paid as a “professional” librarian. 

THAT BEING SAID…

If you, like me, are looking for a convenient way to make yourself known on campus and get the library involved in event programming related to fine arts, joining a committee might be a good starting place. First of all, it is an excellent way to get to know other staff and instructional faculty on campus. When you work together with people for weeks, they’re more likely to say hello when you pass them later. They might even answer your email when you ask if they want to combine forces on the next gallery exhibition and have the library be involved.

For me, Tip #3 is all about how I can insert my own agenda into what is already happening on campus. Having some events to celebrate Multicultural Awareness Week? Why not exhibit some artwork made by students in the library? Etc. It’s a good way to get connected.

4. Make friends with the Fine Arts and Art History faculty. Even if they aren’t on that committee you just joined, THESE ARE YOUR PEOPLE! They are the people who went through programs like you in undergrad/grad school, or saw the same Cezanne show you did last weekend. It will not only make your job more pleasant, but also making connections with them comes in handy when you have plans for art in the library. They can collaborate on exhibitions and programs with you, and they definitely want to be involved with the collection. They know it too, because they are the ones that use it.

In my case, I got to know our printmaking professor by asking him to lend the library display pedestals for an art show of biology inspired raku fired pottery during a special event week at the college. Later, I used the same pedestals to promote his printmaking courses which are often under enrolled. He saw the value of the library as a mutually beneficial relationship, and I did too. Hence, a professional relationship was born!

At that point in my time in that position, I was unable to teach library instruction (not enough master’s credits) or do “real librarian” work, so what I felt I could do is enhance our library through partnerships with art faculty. It help me feel unstuck to work on projects like this.

Photo of a neon sign that says art
Photo by Ian Williams on Unsplash

5. Continue to go see art. This one is so important. Actually, I’ve gotten away from it a little too much. So this one is also a reminder for myself. REMINDER: If you love art, GO SEE ART. It will lift you up when you are down, and it will remind you when you have your head in the academic sand that there is a purpose to your professional trajectory. When I was writing my thesis for my first master’s degree, we had a workshop where a former student came by and told us this same thing. She said something like “Stop writing sometimes, and go see some art. That’s why you’re here.”

Likewise, dear reader, that’s why you’re HERE. That’s why I started reading the ArLiSNAP blog in the first place, and now why I’m volunteering as a feature post writer. I love art. I love the messy process of artmaking (by other people, not me personally, though I do love a darkroom and also to fling paint at things when I’m feeling frisky). I also love the messy conversations we have ABOUT art and the various elements/social conditions that inform it. I love researching art and facilitating that research for other people. But all too often, I get caught up in the “what are the steps to become an art librarian” professional to-do list and forget what is most important, which to take it in.

So there you are! I hope that these are helpful for you, or lead you to think of other new ways you might be able to get involved on campus in different arts initiatives or with the art department. Good luck on your journey!

Call for Proposals: ArLiSNAP and VREPS November 2018 Virtual Conference

ArLiSNAP and VREPS welcome proposals from students and new professionals with an interest in art librarianship or visual resources management to present their work at our 2018 Virtual Conference:

New Media Challenges and Solutions for Art Information Professionals  

New media art, objects, and scholarly projects in the digital realm are challenging our traditional definitions and methodologies for collection, preservation, and research as information professionals. As the scope for new media continues to expand, how are we defining, describing, and cataloging new media objects? How are we preparing for and anticipating storage and conservation needs? How do we respect artist intent and support scholarly research around these born-digital objects?

We invite proposals that share research and projects featuring new media in art librarianship and visual resources management for our annual virtual conference, an opportunity for emerging professionals to present in a supportive and engaging space while connecting with other students and early career librarians across North America.

The webinar will take place on Saturday, November 10th at 1PM CST. Submit your proposal via our Google Form to apply.

Proposals are due by Friday, September 14th. You must also be available to participate in a short practice session with the webinar software in the evening on Thursday, October 4. If you have any questions, please email the ArLiSNAP Conference Planning Liaison, Michelle Wilson at michelle.elizabeth.wilson@gmail.com.

Please welcome our new Feature Post Writer: Courtney Hunt!

Hello! I’m so happy to volunteer for ArLiSNAP and write for the blog as a Feature Post Writer. I graduated in 2017 from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with my M.S.I.S. and also hold an M.A. in the History of Art and Architecture from Hunter College/CUNY.

I currently work as Collection Development & Assessment Librarian at the College of Charleston Libraries in Charleston, SC. I’m from Charleston, and I just moved back for this position (and to be closer to family), so I’m taking my time to get to know the campus and reacquaint myself with all that Charleston has to offer. Prior to this position, I worked as an instruction librarian at a community college in Virginia, where I also taught art history as an adjunct instructor.

My research interests are wide, but center around intersectional feminism and art making, specifically looking at women artists from the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe. My library research interests include the intersection of critical librarianship and collection development, visual resources, and the ways in which fine arts collections are used.

In my spare time I love to travel and experience art/music/food in new places with my partner and our 14 month old son.
I am very excited to be here and to contribute to ArLiSNAP, which is full of inspiration and information for all of us new professionals in the field! Thanks for having me.

Call for Reviewers: October Issue of ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews

ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews Needs You!

ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews Co-editors are seeking volunteers to author reviews for the October 2018 issue. To volunteer, choose a resource from the list below and complete our Reviewer Interest form (https://goo.gl/forms/mpOOJZaCBb6wIXpA2) by Tuesday, July 31.

Initial draft submissions are due Monday, September 3.

Contributing to ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews is a great opportunity to get involved with the Society, learn about interesting new resources, and help shape the publication. Please feel free to read the complete review guidelines and direct comments and questions about the reviews to arlisna.mtr@gmail.com.

 

Submitted by ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews Co-editors:

Melanie Emerson

Gabriella Karl-Johnson

Alexandra Provo

 

Resources for Review: We seek reviewers for the following resources.

**The snippets below are taken from each resource’s web page and are not necessarily the opinions of the M&T Reviews Co-Editors

 

Hugh Edwards

http://media.artic.edu/edwards/

Hugh Edwards was one of the most influential, yet least known, photography curators in America. During his time at the Art Institute, he worked with remarkable enthusiasm and prescience to build the museum’s photography collection and expand its exhibition program, acquiring some three thousand works and organizing seventy-five shows. In a field that was still young, Edwards helped to shape institutional practices and the public’s understanding of photography in Chicago as well as across the country.

 

Picturing Places

https://www.bl.uk/picturing-places

A new free online resource which explores the Library’s extensive holdings of landscape imagery. The British Library’s huge collection of historic prints and drawings is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Picturing Places showcases works of art by well-known artists such as Thomas Gainsborough and J.M.W. Turner alongside images by a multitude of lesser-known figures. Only a few have ever been seen or published before.

 

Connect Vermeer

http://connectvermeer.org/

For many art lovers and museum visitors, Johannes Vermeer stands out as the mysterious genius of Dutch seventeenth-century genre painting. However, as this website reveals, he was not working in isolation. …Through a series of interactive visualisations, this website allows users to discover the network of connections between Vermeer and his sixteen contemporaries. Users can discover the strength and likelihood of relationships between the seventeen artists, the impact of an individual artist’s paintings on the work of his contemporaries, as well as how artists adopted, adapted and disguised elements, from their peers’ work, in their own paintings.

 

Parker Library on the Web

https://parker.stanford.edu/parker

The Parker Library’s holdings of Old English texts account for a substantial proportion of all extant manuscripts in Anglo-Saxon, including the earliest copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c. 890), unique copies of Old English poems and other texts, and King Alfred’s translation of Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care. The Parker Library also contains key Anglo-Norman and Middle English texts ranging from the Ancrene Wisse and the Brut Chronicle to one of the finest copies of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. Other subjects represented in the collection are theology, music, medieval travelogues and maps, apocalypses, bestiaries, royal ceremonies, historical chronicles and Bibles. The Parker Library holds a magnificent collection of English illuminated manuscripts, such as the Bury and Dover Bibles (c. 1135 and c. 1150) and the Chronica maiora by Matthew Paris (c. 1230-50). Scholars in a variety of disciplines – including historians of art, music, science, literature, politics and religion – find invaluable resources in the Library’s collection.

 

Clyfford Still: The Works on Paper

http://pubs.clyffordstillmuseum.org/worksonpaper/

Clyfford Still (1904–1980) may have explored the potential of drawing more than any other artist of his time. The sheer volume (more than 2,300) and variety of Still’s works on paper reveal the centrality of drawing within his lifelong creative process. Over six decades, Still explored (and showed considerable mastery of) the entire range of drawing media—graphite, charcoal, pastel, crayon, pen and ink, oil paint, gouache, and tempera on paper—as well as the printmaking techniques of lithography, etching, woodcut, and silkscreen. Examined together, these works on paper tell the story of an artist who never lost an experimental and curious approach to his art, even as his mature work became quintessentially deliberate and monumental.

 

Vincent van Gogh: The Letters

http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters.html

All the surviving letters written and received by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) are contained in this edition of his correspondence. Excepting only the digital form in which they are now being published, this is the continuation of a long tradition.

 

Faces of Frida

https://artsandculture.google.com/project/frida-kahlo

Faces of Frida is a collaboration between the tech giant and a worldwide network of experts and 33 partner museums in seven countries. Accessible via the Google Arts & Culture app and website, Faces of Frida is the largest collection of artworks and objects related to Kahlo ever compiled.

 

Palmyra

http://www.getty.edu/palmyra

In this 21st century, war in Syria has irrevocably changed the ancient caravan city of Palmyra, famed as a meeting place of civilizations since its apogee in the mid-2nd to 3rd century CE. The Romans and Parthians knew Palmyra as a wealthy oasis metropolis, a center of culture and trade on the edge of their empires. Stretching some three kilometers across the Tadmurean desert, the ruins of Palmyra, like all ruins, stand as bearers of meaning marking their place in history. For centuries, traveling artists and explorers have documented the site in former states of preservation. Created as a tribute to Palmyra, this online exhibition captures the site as it was photographed for the first time by Louis Vignes in 1864 and illustrated in the 18th century by the architect Louis-François Cassas. Their works contribute to Palmyra’s legacy, one that goes far beyond the stones of its once great buildings.

ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews Needs You!

*Early-career and new professionals are encouraged to apply*

ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews Co-editors are seeking volunteers to author reviews for the August 2018 issue. To volunteer, choose a resource from the list below and complete our Reviewer Interest form (https://goo.gl/forms/4K4RgU5Gv9dLHIKo1) by Monday, June 4.

 Initial draft submissions are due Monday, July 2, 2018

 Contributing to ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews is a great opportunity to get involved with the Society, learn about interesting new resources, and help shape the publication. Please feel free to read the complete review guidelines and direct comments and questions about the reviews to arlisna.mtr@gmail.com.

 Submitted by ARLIS/NA Multimedia & Technology Reviews Co-editors:

Melanie Emerson

Gabriella Karl-Johnson

Alexandra Provo

Resources for Review: We seek reviewers for the following resources.

  1. Bibliotheca Palatina – Digital: http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/en/bpd/index.html
  2. The Cultural Histories Series:https://www.bloomsburyculturalhistory.com/
  3. Edcat:https://edcat.net/
  4. New Directory of Art Historians:http://www.arthistorians.info/

Resources for Review: We seek reviewers for the following resources.

**The snippets below are taken from each resource’s web page and are not necessarily the opinions of the M&T Reviews Co-Editors

Bibliotheca Palatina – Digital

http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/en/bpd/index.html

A Virtual Reconstruction of the Former Crown Jewel of Germany’s Libraries

One of the consequences of the Thirty Years’ War was that the most important collection of books in the 17th century Holy Roman Empire, the Bibliotheca Palatina, was divided between two principal locations: Heidelberg and the Vatican. Since 2001, Heidelberg University Library has been working on several projects that aim to digitize parts of this great collection, the final goal being a complete virtual reconstruction of the ‘mother of all libraries’

The Cultural Histories Series

https://www.bloomsburyculturalhistory.com/

The Cultural Histories Series offers an authoritative survey of a wide range of subjects throughout history. Each subject is looked at in Antiquity, the Medieval Age, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Age of Empire and the Modern Age and thematic coverage is consistent across all periods so that users can either gain a broad overview of a period or follow a theme through the ages.

** Reviewer will have access to the trial subscription.

Edcat

https://edcat.net/

edcat is an open catalogue for art editions and publications. Search a fast growing database of artists publications. On edcat you can manage your edition collection and your watchlist, sell and buy them on the marketplace. Contribute and help building the best resource for artists’ editions.

New Directory of Art Historians

http://www.arthistorians.info/

A thirty-year-old resource emerged today as a modern reference tool for art history. The Dictionary of Art Historians, http://www.arthistorians.info/, announced a new interface, data structure, and user options, the product of a year-long redesign. The original tool, a website since 1996, was developed privately by Lee Sorensen, the art and visual studies librarian at Duke University. Duke’s Wired! Lab for digital art history & visual culture sponsored the project beginning in 2016. The new DAH offers searchable data on over 2400 art historians, museum directors, and art-writers of western art from all time periods.

Archives Research & Processing Fellowship

Archives Research & Processing Fellowship, 2.5 days/week

The New Museum Archives seeks an Archives Research & Processing Fellow to support the processing of records in the New Museum’s collections. The New Museum Archives document the New Museum’s history of presenting groundbreaking exhibitions, performances, public programs and civic initiatives, spanning from its founding in 1977 to the present day. Reporting to the New Museum Archivist, the fellow will assist with all aspects of collections processing, with tasks including:

  • Conducting research to identify records and relationships between record groups.
  • Assisting with the creation of finding aids and container lists.
  • Identifying items in need of preservation intervention.
  • Cataloging and re-housing photographic materials.
  • Identifying subjects and events in archival photographs.
  • Recommending items for digitization.
  • Assisting with digitization workflows, as needed.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Graduate coursework in Art History or Library/Archival Science. Must be currently enrolled student, or starting in Fall 2018.
  • Experience performing archival research and familiarity with handling of archival photos and documents.
  • Background in art history, particularly contemporary art and performance.
  • Experience arranging, describing, and rehousing archival collections, highly desirable.
  • Familiarity with preventative conservation and its application within archival collections.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced production environment and make workflow changes on the fly.
  • Experience cataloging in a content management system or OPAC, especially Collective Access.
  • Familiarity with digitization specifications and media formats.
  • Editorial and academic writing/publishing experience, a plus. Experience with Adobe Creative Suite, also a plus.

Instructions:

Application reviews will begin immediately, and the position will remain open until filled. This is a temporary 8-12 month position. Interested candidates should send a cover letter, list of three references, and current resume with links to portfolios and writings to archive@newmuseum.org with subject line “Archives Research Fellowship”. Professional and academic letters of recommendation are welcome, and may be sent separately. Applicants who are selected for the position are expected to keep regular weekly hours, to be negotiated in advance with the Archivist, and will be paid with a monthly stipend. Course credit may be arranged.

Please welcome your new Social Media Liaison: Larry Eames

Hi Hi! My name Larry Eames (she and he pronouns) and I’m excited to be serving as your social media coordinator!

I’m currently working on my MLIS at the University of Washington iSchool and working at Suzzallo Library as a Graduate Reference Assistant in Government Publications, Maps, Microforms, and Newspapers. You can find me personally on Twitter @liblarrian. I’m excited to get more involved with ArLiSNAP after the 2018 New York ArLiSNA conference and I’m even more excited to connect with all of you!
Before Library School, I received a BA in Religious Studies and an MA in the Humanities focused on Art History and Print Culture. Outside of class, I play D&D and enjoy knitting and listening to podcasts on Seattle’s many rainy days. Right now, I’m hooked on Spirits Podcast, the CBC’s Because News, and Scriptnotes, but I’m always taking recs.

A Success Story: An Interview with Jenny Ferretti, Digital Initiatives Librarian at the Maryland Institute College of Art

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

I’m a first-generation American Latina; both of my parents emigrated to the United States from Central America. I never considered librarianship as a career because I didn’t know what librarians did. I had no real connection to the library or librarians. Before becoming a librarian, I had never met a Latinx librarian, which may have contributed to why I didn’t see myself in this profession.

I went to Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and got my BFA in Photography. If it hadn’t been for MICA, I wouldn’t have gone to college and I probably wouldn’t be a librarian. I was a difficult, underachieving student in middle and high school because I didn’t learn like everyone else, and no one, including myself, had the patience to realize this. If my fine art practice hadn’t been something I wanted to pursue in college, I don’t know what would’ve become of me. MICA led me to a career in librarianship because in order to graduate, the Photography program requires students to complete an internship. I interned at a private, non-profit museum/library and it was there I realized digitizing museum and library collections was a job. After completing the internship, I got a part-time job there and after graduating I stayed there part-time and got a part-time paid internship position at Smithsonian Institution’s Anthropological Archives. I stayed at both part-time jobs for about a year, then pitched a full-time job at the museum/library (complete with budget projections and digitization program plans) and ended up getting it. I stayed there for about five years before applying to Pratt Institute’s School of Information.

At Pratt I concentrated on Digital Humanities (DH), getting as much digital tools experience as possible in the classroom and as much archives-related experience outside the classroom. While in NYC, I worked at a variety of institutions, including Pratt Institute, Columbia University, New York Public Library, and Barnard College. Pratt’s program was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to be challenged, particularly in the area of technology and user experience work. After moving back to Baltimore in 2014, I worked in the Library & Archives department at Smithsonian Channel archiving their born-digital assets for about a year.

When I saw the opening for my position, Digital Initiatives Librarian, at MICA, I thought this would be the perfect job to engage two areas I absolutely love: tech and art/design. I had no connection to the library when I was an undergraduate student. This would be my opportunity to engage with a student like me when I was in college. I had what it takes to bridge the gap between artist and archivist/librarian. I wanted to share this knowledge and explore the ways in which DH work could be integrated in the fine art/design context.

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, which would it be?
If I had to base my response on my instagram feed, my favorite things are baseball, sneakers, plants, working, music, being Latina, dogs, family and friends, and eating! Some of my favorite things to do are go to the movies, Bike Party, and dancing. I come from a family who likes to have fun, so we’re generally in a celebratory mood!

I’d love to visit the Stony Island Arts Bank, founded by artist Theaster Gates and I’d love to visit libraries or archives in Nicaragua or El Salvador to try to find any records about my family.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?
This is a tough question because I don’t often have ‘typical’ days! One of the best things about my job is that my day-to-day can be unpredictable and varied. I could be doing a research consultation, in a meeting about something web-related (most recently I’ve been involved in researching a MICA-wide DAMS), creating social media posts for Decker Library, doing collection development for the Film and Video Collection or my liaison areas, less often teaching, etc. My team, the Digital Initiatives Unit, is in charge of the digital presence for the library (which includes the website and social media). Between that and being a liaison librarian, those are the things that take up most of my time.

Do you have any advice for current students and/or those on the job market?
My advice always includes do your research. Make a spreadsheet of all the places you’d like to work – I think my list had around 35 institutions – with links to their job opportunities and check them frequently. I would check them several times a week, especially when I was close to graduating. I looked at the job titles and anything else about people who already worked at these institutions. I would also research the institution, staff, and average salaries.

I would also suggest meeting with your advisor, a trusted faculty member, or using your school’s career development center. A career development center might also help with salary negotiations.

Also, keep in mind that your position might shift priorities. My position originally was not supposed to teach at all and I was not supposed to staff the reference desk regularly (granted I only do two hours per week). I was okay with these changes because I wanted to get instruction experience. But that meant that I had to start reading about pedagogy (which I wish I had done a lot more in school).

Finally, I’d say build up your peer network. Find people who will have your back and be honest about applying for jobs, read your resumes/cover letters, etc. Applying for jobs can involve intense, emotional labor. Find your people and support them as you would want to be supported.

What were/are some challenges for you as a librarian? Are these related to larger challenges in art librarianship or the field in general?
On a personal level, balancing my time between being a manager of a unit and liaison librarian has been the most challenging. I’m lucky our library director gives me room to vent, express what I like or dislike, helps me prioritize my time if I’m feeling stressed, etc.

In terms of librarianship as a profession, I think the most challenging has been to have an open, honest dialogue about what librarianship, particularly art librarianship, is and what our values as a profession should be. Lately I’ve been writing and presenting about whiteness and neutrality in librarianship. Coming to terms with the overwhelming whiteness of this profession is the only way we can hope to change the profession’s demographics. As a woman of color, this has been challenging because many people try to derail the discussion because they view it as a personal attack. After being awarded a Library Journal 2018 Movers & Shakers award for my work with the library and archive workers of color group We Here, I know now is the time to have these difficult discussions and rethink/redesign inclusion and equity initiatives.

A Success Story: An Interview with Margaret Huang, Digital Archivist at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Can you tell us a little bit about your background, your current position, and how you got into the field of (art) librarianship?
I received an MLIS from the University Pittsburgh in the Archives, Preservation, and Records Management track. I am currently the Digital Archivist at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I have been interested in working with and around art ever since I got a job in high school in the gift shop of a museum. During undergrad, I was an art history minor and also happened to get a work study position in my college library’s digitization lab. This is when I started to piece together my career path. I considered pursuing a Masters in Museum Studies but ultimately decided that an MLIS could be a more flexible degree.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?
My position recently pivoted to focus on one specific project so my typical work day right now involves a lot of noodling around in XML/JSON and Excel spreadsheets since I am deep into the metadata creation phase of the project. It is broken up by some of my other responsibilities as issues arise, such as maintaining our ArchivesSpace and Preservica instances, developing digital preservation policies and procedures, answering reference questions, participating in discussions surrounding our time-based media art (I am currently the mentor for our NDSR Art resident on our project: Planning for Time-Based Media Artwork Preservation), and whatever else may come up!

Do you have any advice for current students and/or those on the job market?
My advice to current students and/or those on the job market is to hustle. I was juggling freelance jobs, part-time jobs, and volunteering until I finally got a full time permanent library/archives job. Try to get as much hands on experience and technical skills as possible. Apply to as many jobs that interest you as possible, even if you feel unqualified. It never hurts to give it a shot. Meet and talk with people who have the jobs you want to see how they got there. Again and again, I have found that people tend to want to help and give advice. Also, your first job out of school doesn’t have to be your exact dream job but you can use what you learn to build towards it. At the same time, it’s also ok to not settle if you know what you want. I do honestly believe that hard work pays off so keep hustling.

What were/are some challenges for you as a librarian? Are these related to larger challenges in art librarianship or the field in general?
Currently, my biggest work related challenge is copyright issues. There are so many legal complications, risk tolerances, and stakeholders to consider. This is definitely a common challenge in the field, especially when embarking on digital projects and it becomes even more overwhelming if you’re dealing with entire archival collections, like me, that comprise of hundreds of possible copyright holders. Moving forward, I would like to see libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions collectively push Fair Use as far as possible.

My biggest personal challenge is feeling confident in my technical chops aka imposter syndrome. I think this is felt by many people and while I do not know the cure for these feelings, I can at least say: If you feel this way, you are not alone — let’s empower each other!

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, which would it be?
I love to ride my bike, hike, and travel when I can. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of true crime books. I think I would be most curious to see the personal libraries of people I admire or am intrigued by – for example, what’s on Iggy Pop’s or Amy Goodman’s bookshelves?

Welcome Our New ArLiSNAP Co-Moderator, Michele Jennings!

Please join me in welcoming our new Co-Moderator for 2018-2020, Michele Jennings!

Hi ArLiSNAP! My name is Michele Jennings and I’m excited to serve along Breanne Crumpton as your new ArLiSNAP Co-Moderator. I’m the Art Librarian at Ohio University (as of this January) where I act as a subject liaison for Art + Design, Art History, Interior Architecture, Interdisciplinary Arts, and Visual Communication. I completed my MLIS at the University of British Columbia in September 2017 and I have a BA in the History of Art and Visual Culture from UC Santa Cruz. 

I have been a follower and member of ArLiSNAP since 2015, and I’m thrilled to serve as your co-moderator now that I’m able to volunteer time to the organization! As someone who didn’t attend a library school with a dual-masters option or a specialization in art librarianship, ArLiSNAP has been a lifeline to me and an opportunity to be engaged (albeit virtually) with the broader community of students and new professionals in the field. I’m looking forward to offering more chances for new members to connect with each other, and to maintaining ArLiSNAP’s robust social media presence and invaluable job postings and career tips–another lifeline to many of us who follow ArLiSNAP!

Additionally, in the next two years I’d like to strengthen our engagement with critical librarianship and, as job seekers and students, to critically examine the ways that social justice and diversity and inclusion impact our studies, our work, and the field as a whole. This past year the ArLiSNAP/VREPS virtual conference was wonderfully thought provoking and has informed the way that I have personally approached my work as a new professional located at the nexus of art and information. There’s so much more work to be done in our communities, institutions, and organizations, and as new professionals and students it behooves us to bring this critical awareness and engagement into the future of the profession.

And of course, let’s have some fun while we’re at it! I’m so excited to get to work and to connect with all of you, and I hope you’ll share with me your thoughts, opinions, and experiences to make this an even better space for our community.

Thanks,
Michele