I felt very lucky to be able to attend the ARLIS/NA and VRA joint conference this year as the recipient of ARLIS/NA New York’s Celine Palatsky Travel Award. As a graduate student at Pratt Institute and a Collection Development Fellow at MoMA library, it was exciting to learn about new directions in the field, particularly those that are directly relevant to my interests. One of the best parts of the conference was meeting art information professionals from around the globe. The ARLIS community is filled with genuine, supportive and fun folks, with whom I hope to stay in touch for years to come!

At MoMA Library, I work primarily on acquisitions and cataloging of artists’ books, so I was very interested in learning how other libraries are handling emerging genres of print and digital publications. As traditional publishing is transformed in the digital environment, so are the art resources that we collect and make accessible. Our new media landscape also holds great potential to open up and democratize information, as we see with the explosion of self-publishing and participatory resources offline and online. These ideas are important in my work, and there were several sessions that touched on them.

One of the highlights was "E-mania! - The Present and Future of Electronic Art Book Publishing,” which brought together some of the leading projects in digital art publishing. Artifex Press’ digital catalogues raisonnés of artists such as Chuck Close and Jim Dine are making the genre more flexible for editing and more media-rich. Paula Gabbard of Avery Library noted that most born-digital museum publications are open access, which is great! I came away from the talk wondering how these impressive projects could be adapted for smaller organizations with smaller budgets.

Over the past two semesters at MoMA Library, I have become very familiar with our artists’ books collection, and I was interested to see what artists’ books are being collected at other libraries. The “Artists’ Books: Vehicles for Social Change” panel featured talks by several socially-engaged women book artists based in the Pacific Northwest. Their inspiring presentations and works tackled such issues as environmentalism, feminism, immigration, and African-American history.

I also attended several panels that focused on opening up GLAM content for the Web. One of these was actually a workshop entitled, “Wikipedia: From Why to Edit,” which presented case studies from different museum libraries that had incorporated Wikipedia into their workflows and programming. While the Watson Library uses Wikipedia to drive traffic to their digital collections, the Art + Feminism group hosts edit-a-thons to promote information literacy and gender equality. We participants also tried our hand at making basic edits to Wikipedia pages. The “Unlocking Images, Ideas and Content” panel featured approaches to open access image content. The speakers did a great job outlining the different approaches to open access. Beyond making images available for scholarly use, they recognized the importance of “remixing” content within artistic communities. Another highlight was “Connecting Collections on the Open Web,” which featured three amazing collaborative web projects: Arquigrafia, PHAROS, and the Florentine Renaissance Drawings Linked Data Catalogue.

The conference week also was a great opportunity to sample the sights — and flavors — of Seattle! I loved the tour of the light-filled, futuristic Seattle Public Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas, and the opening reception at the Seattle Art Museum. When the rain let up, there was plenty of time to explore Downtown and Capitol Hill by foot and check out the fresh produce and flying fish of Pike Place Market. Seattle definitely lives up to its reputation as a great food city, from Vietnamese Pho and fish tacos to craft beer and, of course, coffee. An evening of karaoke was a great way to get to know librarian friends new and old!

Overall, the ARLIS/NA and VRA joint conference was one of the best professional experiences I’ve had to date. I look forward to taking many new ideas with me into my work and to continuing to participate in the vibrant ARLIS professional community. I can’t wait to attend next year’s conference in New Orleans!

I would like to thank the Celine Palatsky Travel Award committee for their generous support, as well as the ARLIS/NA New York Chapter, the staff of the MoMA Library and Pratt Institute Libraries, and the Pratt School of Information. 

Sarah Hamerman, 2016 Recipient of the Celine Palatsky Travel Award

Image: Sarah Hamerman