ARLIS/NA Collection Development SIG Blog

For ARLIS/NA members interested in collection development issues.

1 Comment

Engaging Library Users in Collection Development session at the ARLIS/NA Annual Conference in New Orleans / Amy Trendler

If you’ve been perusing the program for the 45th annual ARLIS/NA conference in New Orleans you may have noticed that there’s a session on collection development first thing Monday morning. In “Engaging Library Users in Collection Development” we’ll be hearing from six speakers who are collaborating with curatorial staff, faculty members, students, and other users to shape library collections. Read on for a sneak preview of what some of the speakers will be covering in their talks.

Expanding on the idea of working with faculty in a department, Fine Arts Librarian Laurel Bliss will explain how she worked with a new faculty member at San Diego State University to focus on developing the library’s collection of materials on a specific subject, in this case jewelry and metalworking.  This meant doing a collections analysis, taking a snapshot of the curriculum, evaluating a large book donation, and determining what new books to purchase with very limited funds.

Librarian and Archivist Caroline Dechert’s talk will cover a transition in the collection of ephemera for artist files at the Bartlett Library of the Museum of International Folk Art. This used to be a passive process; the Library staff would accept and file material as it came in, but would not collect actively. Over the years, as galleries, exhibits, and markets have moved to more online invitations and guides, the Library received less and less to file. The talk will describe how the Library has engaged curatorial staff to identify artists for whom we want to collect more actively; to make connections between the Library and artists, cooperatives, and galleries; and to implement an active approach to collecting artist ephemera.

In her talk, “ZineHaw! and What the Fluxus?!: Counterculture Materials are Campus Magnets”,  Arts & Architecture Librarian, Deborah K. Ultan, discusses how counterculture materials are drawing interest from faculty and students in visual communications, gender studies, and a variety of art classes at the University of Minnesota. Classes are being designed around these rare materials with group study and coordinated exhibitions. Focused collection development of counterculture publishing is supporting curricula around semiotics, political agency, social justice, production and reception. Within the context of this interactive environment and engagement with the collections, the acquisition, cataloging, and preservation of alternative press materials is proving to be a valuable and exciting direction.

Join us at 8:30am on Monday, February 6 in New Orleans to hear more about these projects.  Also presenting will be John Burns, Jennifer H. Krivickas, and Anne Trenholme on their projects to engage users in collection development through working with faculty members in an academic department, a patron driven acquisitions program, and collaborating with curatorial staff in a museum.


Leave a comment

Library liaisons / Anne Champagne, Art Institute of Chicago

Last fall, the library embarked on a “library liaison” program. The curatorial departments, Conservation, and Museum Ed were each assigned one of eight librarians as their library liaison. The program, which is still evolving, has two main objectives: 1) to get a clear picture of what is driving current and future research needs — including exhibition research, acquisitions priorities, and provenance research — to inform collection development and reference services; and 2) to introduce (or re-introduce as the case may be) museum staff to the full suite of library resources and services currently available and to communicate our strategic plans for the future.

To get the program started, a letter of introduction was sent to each curatorial department by the Library Director, describing the program and introducing the liaisons. Then, each library liaison set up an appointment with her assigned department. A few departments did not respond — they were either too busy or uninterested — but most were very enthusiastic about the opportunity to meet with a library representative. After initial meetings with departments, liaisons wrote up their notes for the library’s intranet so selectors and liaisons can refer to them. In addition, selectors and liaisons have met on regular basis to discuss what we have learned from the museum community.

Not only has this been a good way for us to learn in more detail about on-going research taking place across the museum, it has also been a great opportunity to discuss with our curatorial colleagues tangential issues, such as off-site storage, serial cuts, budgets, and city-wide collaboration. It has also allowed us to forge new relationships and join conversations taking place outside the library. All of this continues to be a great boon for selection, as we learn more about the community we serve.