Thank you to ARLIS/NY for awarding me the Celine Palatsky Travel Award, which helped defray the costs of attending this year’s ARLIS/NA annual conference in Washington, DC.

I flew into DC on Thursday morning, arriving just in time to join the Archives of American Art (AAA) tour. It was exciting to see some of the AAA’s amazing holdings in person, in preparation for its upcoming exhibition on artists’ models. We also learned about its archival processing and digitization workflows.

The conference hotel’s central location meant that I was able to easily walk over to the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts to take in the Garry Winogrand and Meret Oppenheim exhibitions over the course of the weekend.

On Friday morning, I went on the tour of the Folger Shakespeare Library. It provided a great overview of its space (including a gorgeous reading room) and collections. We toured the photography lab and heard about its imaging operations as well. I appreciated the “backstage” view of library operations as well as tours of public spaces.

ARLIS/NA conferences offer an interesting combination of tours, meetings, presentations, poster sessions, and opportunities to talk informally with colleagues, whether at a reception, in the exhibits, or in the halls between sessions. I spent some time in the exhibits talking to representatives from Bloomsbury, Alexander Street Press, and other vendors of books and databases. I attended meetings for two very different but similarly new special interest groups (SIG): the Fashion, Textile, and Costume SIG, and the Digital Humanities SIG, as well as a number of excellent sessions.

For me, the most interesting parts of the Future of Art Bibliography Initiative Update session were the presentations on collaborative web archiving for art history and the WorldCat Art Discovery Group Catalog, which aims to create a sustainable, functional, unified platform for discovery of material within the discipline of art history. This is a response to diversifying types of resources required for research—datasets and digital materials in addition to print collections.

Reinventing the Scholarly Collection Catalogue for the Online Age highlighted a number of projects that expand the idea of an e-book to take advantage of the online format, and also discussed questions related to copyright, authoritativeness, permanence, cataloging, and publication.

The session called The Politics of Digitization included Patricia Fidler from Yale University Press discussing the acclaimed app created for Joseph Albers’ book, The Interaction of Color, in the context of findings from a study of art history faculty about e-publishing, and the challenges of e-publishing in the arts. Clayton Kirking, Debbie Kempe, and Billy Parrott talked about challenges of digitization and the popular assumption that most library collections should be or have been digitized, and that digitization is the best strategy for both preservation and access.

The conference was an invigorating and inspiring experience, as usual. I left feeling more connected to my colleagues and aware of initiatives and concerns at other institutions. The conference organizers really went above and beyond for the social events. The reception at Dumbarton Oaks was lovely, and everyone was clearly having a great time during both the convocation and reception at the Library of Congress. I was glad to see so many sessions addressing the digital shift (or, as Carole-Ann Fabian called it, “the digital tipping point”) from the art library perspective. The themes I heard repeatedly were that art librarians need to be well-informed and well-connected to evolve and collaborate, and I felt that this year’s conference facilitated those goals.

Lindsay King, 2014 Recipient of the Celine Palatsky Travel Award

Image: (left to right) Jina Park and Lindsay King