ARLIS/NA Conference Collection Development SIG Meeting Minutes


Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 8:00 – 9:00 AM
Commerce Room, Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel

Moderator: Paula Gabbard
Recorder: Christina Peter
Approximately 30 members attending

The meeting followed the agenda assembled by Paula Gabbard.

  1. Introduction and changing of the guards. Paula Gabbard, who has been coordinator of the Collection Development SIG since 2014, announces that she will step down from her position. She introduces Mary Wassermann as the new SIG coordinator to begin after this meeting.
  2. Paula Gabbard introduces antiquarian bookseller Ray Smith, who proceeds with a presentation about his work and his relationship with ARLIS/NA. Smith has been a member of ARLIS/NA for 35 years; he last exhibited at the Boston conference in 2010. He is also a photographer who studied with Walker Evans and published an album of his own photographs of America. In Smith’s view, antiquarian vendors and librarians work together in a symbiotic relationship based on shared interests and scholarly pursuits. Vendors contribute to ARLIS by becoming members and also by generously supporting receptions and offering travel grants. Librarians learn from booksellers about titles they wouldn’t know of otherwise. Vendors are active partners in building library collections – as an example, Smith mentions his work with Milan Hughston at MoMa and Stephanie Frontz at the University of Rochester, who relied on him for their comic book collections.
  3. Mary Wassermann brings up the issue of small private collection catalogs. She has seen lately at the Philadelphia Museum Library a large influx of dealers’ catalogs as well as catalogs of individual named art collections, some of them ephemeral. She was wondering if other librarians have also noticed a proliferation of these kinds of publications and if so, whether they were keeping them. Deborah Smedstad of MFA Boston Library and Christina Peter of the Frick Art Reference Library stressed the importance and documentary value of these publications; both institutions collect them actively. Other librarians said that they did not feel the necessity for every institution to collect such items; they would be content to rely on interlibrary loans.|
  4. At this point Kim Collins enters the meeting and introduces herself as the board liaison for the SIG. She offers help for feedback and project charters.
  5. Susan Flanagan from the GRI brings up the subject of the acquisition of electronic resources through consortia. Susan described her work on the Product Review Committee of SCELC (originally the Southern California Electronic Library Consortium, now a nationwide organization) in her November 15, 2016 post to the ARLIS/NA Collection Development SIG blog. As member of the Committee Susan reviews and recommends new art-related databases to SCELC, which in turn negotiates pricing and licensing terms and offers the products to member libraries. The consortial group offers substantial discounts on products, which is a significant draw for libraries to join; the membership fee is $750/year. Comments to Susan’s remarks indicated that most academic art libraries as well as some museum libraries acquire their electronic resources via consortia. Deborah Smedstad mentions a potential drawback to consortial buying: the backlist may disappear by consortial agreement, something that happened to MFA Boston’s expensive Ebrary collection.
  6. Susan Davi, Head of Collection Management at the University of Delaware wants to know how art librarians handle single and package e-book purchasing and how they see the impact of electronic books on print collections. Susan is under serious pressure from her administration to reduce print collections in order to create space, and is wondering if others are in the same predicament. Anne Evenhaugen of the Smithsonian Libraries subscribes to the Taylor & Francis Conservation, Heritage & Museum Studies collection e-book package; she finds the e-books on conservation more useful than the art e-books. Beverly Mitchell of Southern Methodist University offers an option to users between print and electronic format; the faculty almost always asks for print. She thinks one of the reasons might be that the e-readers are very clunky. Laura Schwartz at UC San Diego subscribes to both JSTOR and Taylor & Francis e-book packages. She has good experiences, especially with the JSTOR package that does not require DRM. Susan Davi remarks that JSTOR is used more like its own database. The question whether librarians buy a certain title in both print and e-book format is raised; the comments seem to suggest that practices vary. Barbara Prior of Oberlin College mentions a survey at Oberlin asking faculty and students whether they prefer print or ebooks: not only the faculty but most of the students also opted for print. The Oberlin survey was in-house and the results have not been published. An increasing number of articles show a general preference of print over e-books from users. Paula Gabbard says that Columbia also did a survey on the issue with similar results.
  7. Christina Peter asks how librarians develop collecting policies for PDFs. The Frick Art Reference Library has developed a workflow to archive and catalog PDFs. Christina would like to know whether other libraries duplicate print and PDF publications, whether they target born digital publications only, and how how librarians keep track of new titles and backlogs. Jared Ash of the Metropolitan Museum’s Watson Library and Deborah Smedstad of MFA Boston are involved with collecting PDFs; there doesn’t seem to exist a consensus on the issues at this point.
  8. Christina Peter introduces her colleague Mary Seem’s idea of trying to coordinate meetings between the ARLIS conferences. Mary thinks that much could be shared and learned and it would be nice to connect with others involved and interested in collection development; such meetings would also benefit librarians who are not able to travel to the annual conferences. Mary Wassermann likes the idea; Beverly Mitchell suggests the use of the ARLIS lunchtime chats for the purpose; she would be in favor of meetings centering around a single issue.
  9. Mary Wassermann asks for ideas for the future. Laura Schwartz suggests the topic of new publishing models and recommends a potential session on how to deal with publishers for next year’s conference.

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