ARLIS/NA Collection Development SIG Blog

For ARLIS/NA members interested in collection development issues.

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Thoughts on Gifts / by Susan Craig

Having recently experienced the usual deluge of end-of- the-year donations, this topic has been on my mind. Donors planning to increase their charitable contributions for income tax purposes often donate unwanted books to a library in December. Of course, there are also the generous donors who sincerely want to help the library build a collection.

I’ve learned that gifts can be both a blessing and a curse. I try to avoid accepting items that duplicate material that my library already owns and rarely accept journal issues unless it’s a substantial run of a very desirable and unusual title. Learning to tactfully refuse an unwanted donation without alienating the donor is a necessary skill so my strategies are to suggest other possible institutions which might be grateful for the donation—social service agencies, smaller area libraries, library book sales—as well as to explain our procedures and costs.

A variation on the gift of books is to be offered a donation to purchase material for the library’s collection. Sometimes this money has been intended as a memorial and the donor may ask that the purchased material correspond to a particular interest of the person being honored. It can be very challenging to find a desirable title that matches the prescribed subject and the amount of the donation.

It is important that your library have a written policy regarding gifts. The policy should identify the type of material that the library will accept and the appropriate contact person. It also needs to explain how issues such as appraisals and acknowledgments, such as book plates and donation inventories, will be handled. It might suggest that cash donations to support the processing or personnel costs would be welcome. Perhaps most important, the policy should clearly state that retention decisions for gifts are at the library’s discretion. If at all possible, post this policy on your website so potential donors can find it.

When you are offered a gift of something that is truly desirable for the collection, rejoice and celebrate. It may not happen often. But regardless of how mundane the gift, if you accept it, you need to write a letter of appreciation to the donor and, depending on your organization, copy the letter to your Development Officer and administrators. Make the thank you letters as personal as possible and emphasize not only the library’s appreciation but also how the gift benefits the users of the collection.

And, when it comes time for you to dispose of your own book collection, be sympathetic to the librarian who may not be as enthusiastic as you expected.

Susan V. Craig, University of Kansas, January 2015


Catalog Records from Metropolitan Museum of Art MetPublications

In late 2012, Dan Lipcan forwarded an exciting announcement to ARLIS/L: the launching of MetPublications, an online resource offering access to many of the Museum’s publications. It was a complement to the Museum Libraries’ project to digitize all known Museum publications from 1869 to 1963 within their Digital Collections.

I emailed Dan to see if bibliographic records (MARC records) for these publications would be made easily available so other libraries could load them into their catalogs. In the Fall of 2014, Dan Lipcan was able to offer files to ARLIS/L MARC record sets for online Metropolitan Museum of Art publications (both from the publications department and from the Libraries’ Digital collections). He separated into two downloads: those that offered full text and those that offered preview only.

Columbia University Libraries chose the full-text download only. I worked with both our head cataloger, Kate Harcourt and our systems analyst, Evelyn Ocken to create test records to review what elements in the record needed to be modified to meet with local practices. After some tweaks, happily performed by my technical services colleagues, we loaded the set into our local catalog.

In the end, we loaded all 1,395 records offered by Dan Lipcan which gave us full text online access. If you would like to see the records in our OPAC (, a keyword search on 965MetPub will retrieve all 1,395 records. Thanks to Dan, Kate and Evelyn, we now have access to beautiful exhibition catalogs such as:

Art and love in renaissance Italy / edited by Andrea Bayer ; Andrea Bayer, Beverly Louise Brown, Nancy Edwards, Everett Fahy, Deborah L. Krohn, Jacqueline Marie Musacchio, Luke Syson, Dora Thornton, James Grantham Turner, and Linda Wolk-Simon ; with contributions by Sarah Cartwright, Andreas Henning, Jessie McNab, J. Kenneth Moore, Eve Straussman-Pflanzer, Wendy Thompson, and Jeremy Warren. New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art ; New Haven : Yale University Press, 2008.
xv, 376 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 32 cm.

Landscapes clear and radiant : the art of Wang Hui (1632-1717) / Wen C. Fong, Chin-Sung Chang, and Maxwell K. Hearn ; edited by Maxwell K. Hearn. New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art ; New Haven : Yale University Press, 2008.
xii, 236 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 31 cm.

Dan announced on ARLIS/L that he would annually reissue complete sets that will include updated and new records for online MMA publications.

I am thrilled to be able to add these records to our local catalog, giving easy access to this material for our research community.

Thank you Dan, Kate and Evelyn.

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The Fine Art of App Preservation

The Fine Art of App Preservation / Melissa Goertzen, E-Book Program Development Librarian (

In 1963 Josef Albers published the Interaction of Color, which revolutionized the way scholars and students study relationships between colors. Albers developed the text to serve as a hands-on kit that provides an interactive environment to conduct silkscreen color studies. However, there are limits to interactivity, as the book was originally published in print format. Now, fifty years after its original publication the text has been released in a digital format that brings Albers’ original vision to life. Yale University Press released the Interaction of Color app, which includes over 125 color plates, 60 interactive studies, and commentary from Albers. This is a landmark publication and won the George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award for excellence in art publishing from the Art Libraries Society of North America earlier this year.

Librarians are facing challenges because the app is sold exclusively through the iTunes Store and is only compatible with the latest iPad. Currently, Columbia University Libraries does not provide access to public tablets and there is not an existing framework regarding how to “lend” these devices to users.

A second challenge involves preservation of the app. Because its value to the scholarly community is tied to its interactive learning environment, librarians searched for a means to purchase a preservation copy that guarantees long-term access to both content and functionality. They discovered that because the app can only be licensed through iTunes (currently, there is not a business model that supports a flat out purchase of the app), there is no way to capture and archive content. Even if it was, there are no benchmarks that estimate the costs of long-term app maintenance and storage.

During the Fall semester, several of us at Columbia Libraries had an opportunity to discuss access and preservation challenges with the New Business & Product Manager at Yale University Press. We learned that academic publishers are also grappling with these issues, and there are opportunities to work together and discuss strategies related to the preservation of enhanced e-books. One idea is to begin with the preservation of underlying images and text. While this excludes functionality, it provides a starting point that may better acquaint information professionals and publishers with preservation challenges at hand.

It will be interesting to see how preservation discussions develop in the coming months and years. For now, partnerships are developing with the collective goals of providing access and preserving scholarly content for generations of researchers and students to come.

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New Interdisciplinary Artist’s Book: Notes / Richard Minsky

If you are interested in interdisciplinary artists’ books that include music, please take a look at Notes. There will be a cloth hardcover edition of fifteen copies, a Deluxe edition of five leather bound copies, and a unique Musical Chair that extends the binding into a total body experience. Each copy of the book includes a linoleum block color field print from 1972, a  letterpress 7″ record jacket from 1981, and comes with a CD of a 38 minute work recorded at Mercury Studios in 1972 for which the score is in the book.

Pre-publication discounts are in effect through Friday, November 14 or until all the copies are subscribed. Details, download of sample pages, online ordering and institutional order form are at:

I am glad to answer any queries–you can email me: Richard Minsky <> or phone 516.729-9227.

This Friday I will be presenting a reading of NOTES and will play some music from the book at an “Artist Talk & Reception”

When:  Friday Nov. 14, 2014
Where: The Center for Book Arts, 28 W. 27, NYC, 6:30 pm.
What: NOTES is a CBA Featured Artist Project on exhibit through December 20.

This will double as the publication party for the book.


This is my second exploration of the reading chair as an extension of the binding. The previous one, Freedom of Choice: Three Poems of Love and Death by Lucie Brock-Broido, was acquired by the Lloyd Sealy Library of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. For that work the book was chained to an electric chair with an audio component:

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New Publication: Sylvan Cemetery: Architecture, Art and Landscape at Woodlawn / Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library

indexSylvan Cemetery: Architecture, Art and Landscape at Woodlawn coincides with Woodlawn’s 150th anniversary celebration, and is an outgrowth of the Cemetery’s 2006 gift of its archive the most complete set of 19th and 20th century cemetery records held in the public trust to the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University.

Sylvan Cemetery highlights the renowned architects, artists, artisans and landscape designers whose work has come to define Woodlawn Cemetery, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011 for the significance of its art and architecture. Through the display of preparatory and design drawings and sketches, maps, building elevations, early photographs, maintenance records and letters, the exhibition will examine Woodlawn’s creation in 1863, its response and adaptation to changing ideas about memorial monuments and commemorative landscapes since then and its role in defining the art, architecture and landscape of American cemeteries.

Woodlawn exemplifies the landscape-lawn style of cemetery that became popular after the Civil War. The park-like setting encouraged the creation of freestanding monuments and mausoleums, which wealthy New Yorkers commissioned the leading architects to design and the era’s best-known artists and craftsmen to embellish. In the process, fine art sculpture, metalwork and stained glass became central to Woodlawn’s landscape and influenced memorials at other American cemeteries. Featured in Sylvan Cemetery is the work of landscape designers Beatrix Farrand, the Olmstead Brothers and Ellen Biddle Shipman; architects McKim, Mead, & White, Carrère & Hastings and John Russell Pope; as well as craftsmen and artists Rafael Guastavino and son Rafael, Jr., Louis Comfort Tiffany, John LaFarge, Samuel Yellin and Alexander Archipenko.

Sylvan Cemetery: Architecture, Art and Landscape at Woodlawn is available through and Worldwide Books.

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Announcement of interesting Croatian Publication

Suzana Marjanić: Kronotop hrvatskoga performansa: od Travelera do danas. Zagreb: Udruga Bijeli val, Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku, Školska knjiga, 2014. (In Croatian)

The Chronotope of Croatian Performance Art: from Traveleri to the Present Day (Kronotop hrvatskoga performansa: od Travelera do danas) covers the life of performance art in Croatia from two standpoints: the avant-garde from the early 1920s (e.g. the group of high-school students Traveleri, who, among other things, performed street actions by subversively greeting horses, and not coach drivers or noble passengers) and the conceptual groups from the 1960s and 1970s when performance art in was initiated by its originators, Tomislav Gotovac, Sanja Iveković, Vlasta Delimar etc. Art historian Ješa Denegri wrote in the catalogue of the exhibition New Art Practice 1966–1978 that activities within the former Yugoslavia were so intensive at the time that they were even then difficult to register and catalog. With their performing concepts they were highly influential (Gotovac’s work greatly inspired Marina Abramović as she has repeatedly emphasized).

Presented according to the performance centers (Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Pula – Labin, Rijeka, Osijek, Varaždin…) the author decided not to use the possible subtitle “history of Croatian performance art”, but the (Bakhtinian) collocation “chronotope of Croatian performance art”. In its temporal narrative, social and political changes which follow through the book [monarchist – The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes/ The Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1939); socialist – Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1945-1991); democratic – Republic of Croatia (1991- ), and entering the European Union in 2013] created unique context for development of performance arts and their themed repertoire; from turning upside-down the norms of aristocratic class in its decline, rebellion against communist regime oppression, fights for the feminist movement, sexual rights battles and finally activism and a harsh critique of neo-liberal consumerist society.

Each chapter of the book begins with a theoretical background followed by interviews with individual performance artists as well as actors, musicians, theoreticians, and art historians. This part of the book keeps up with the chronology through the living words of its protagonists. The book consists of 15 chapters, 3 forewords, a timeline, 149 interviews, 1860 photographs… 2096 pages!

Beautifully designed and conceptually crafted as the book-altar for artists whose art clashed with all ideologies.


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The Newly Available Online Core List of Architecture Resources (AASL)

The Newly Available Online Core List of Architecture Resources / by Barbara Opar

Want to check your library collection for core reference works? Not familiar with the discipline and need to quickly see what resources are considered basic to the field? The Association of Architecture School Librarians has made freely available in an online format such a list of core architecture resources. The list can be accessed at

AASL members previously compiled a core list of architecture periodicals and will be revising it soon. This new list provides an additional aid to librarians, especially those less familiar with architectural librarianship.

Several years ago, Kathy Edwards (Clemson University), Janine Henri (University of California, Los Angeles), Barbara Opar (Syracuse University), and Amy Trendler (Ball State University) took the initiative to begin developing a core reference list for architecture based on discussion which took place at the AASL annual meeting. The AASL Executive Board then made this an official AASL Task Force and charged the group to:

  1. Identify the categories of core reference resources needed in libraries supporting accredited architecture degrees in North America
  2. Develop a list of core resources needed for each category
  3. Recommend appropriate updating cycle and format
  4. Advocate with NAAB and other appropriate groups for endorsement of the core reference works list
  5. Disseminate information about the list to allied organizations

Task force members first identified the most essential categories and then began developing a list of corresponding resources for each category to assist researchers from beginner to advanced. The list includes categories on architecture schools; bibliographies and guides to research; biographical resources; dictionaries and encyclopedias; surveys and histories of architecture; special collections; guides to architectural styles; indexes and databases and finally visual resources. Because architecture is also heavily reliant on technical resources, other categories include building codes and regulations; cost estimating; professional practice; specifications and trade literature; and technical handbooks/standards. AASL hopes in the future to have this list used in the National Architectural Accrediting Board review process, so a section listing publications relevant to each of the NAAB Student Performance Criteria and related subcategories was added.

The authors collaborated using Springshare’s online LibGuides platform via the Clemson site. This platform enabled authors to enter their specific selections as well as review those of other team members. Overall editing of the online tool was completed by Barret Havens (Woodbury University, Burbank) and moved to that institution’s Campus Guides.

AASL encourages you to use this list, share it with others and send any comments to one of the committee members listed in the blog.


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