In early February, thanks to the generosity of the ARLIS/NA New York Chapter Celine Palatsky Travel Award, I was fortunate enough to escape the freezing cold of New York City and attend the 2017 ARLIS/NA conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The fantastic combination of the city’s remarkable beauty, culture, and food, combined with the joy of meeting with friends and colleagues made the organization’s 45th conference truly outstanding.


This year’s conference was a busy one for me: serving as Oral History Coordinator on the Documentation Committee, incoming Vice Moderator for the Cataloging Section, and moderator for a conference session, I had a lot on my schedule. Having started a new full-time position two weeks earlier, I also wanted to make the most of networking opportunities and sessions in my new role in the Art & Architecture Collection at New York Public Library.


Much of my time was spent attending meetings and collaborating with colleagues. As the incoming Vice Moderator for the Cataloging Section, it was great to be able to attend the section meeting in person and learn about projects my colleagues are working on in their institutions. Tamara Fultz gave an inspiring presentation on how the Watson Library eliminated their backlog, Sherman Clarke and Marie-Chantal Écuyer-Coelho updated the group on some of the Cataloging Advisory Committee’s most recent efforts, and Maria Oldal opened a brief discussion about a potential cataloging-related session for the 2018 conference. Attending this section meeting in person will help myself and our current moderator effectively develop initiatives over the next year to serve the ARLIS/NA Cataloging Section and the wider art cataloging community.


Additionally, I attended the Documentation Committee meeting. As the Oral History coordinator, I recorded oral histories of four past Distinguished Service Award winners, in 2016. This achievement effectively revived the oral history initiative, and it was important to be present at the Documentation Committee to report on the Oral History project’s progress, discuss next steps, and how the project will be carried out in the future. The committee discussed goals for the next year and ways we might accomplish them.


In addition to serving on the Documentation Committee and the Cataloging Section, I had the honor of moderating the session “Digitization and Preservation: Small Easy and Built Environment Resource Directory (BERD).” Eric Wolf and Lauren Gottlieb-Miller discussed their methodology for establishing a digitization workflow on literally zero budget and presented very impressive results. It was wonderful to see an institution make progress on such an important initiative and overcome challenges that institutions of all sizes face. The session made me think about the value of collaboration both within and outside our institutions and left me feeling inspired. Throughout the rest of the conference, many of my fellow attendees said they felt similarly.


The Welcome Reception at the New Orleans Museum of Art combined a diverse art collection with delicious food and exceptional music, serving as an excellent introduction to the city. The chance to meet with colleagues and friends in such a wonderful setting was an excellent start to the conference. The convocation reception at the Ogden Museum was a highlight as well, combining more great food with a truly excellent art collection; wandering through the galleries introduced me to many artists I was previously unaware of and opened my eyes to the scope of Southern American art.


New Orleans is an incredible city, and I am so grateful to the New York Chapter and the Celine Palatsky Travel Award for supporting my conference attendance. Both the conference itself and exploring the city beyond conference events were enriching and unforgettable experiences. My discussions with librarians in other institutions have already been helpful in my new position at NYPL, and I am looking forward to continuing to serve the organization in multiple capacities. Every ARLIS conference I have attended thus far has left me feeling inspired and energized, and 2017 was no exception.


Emily Walz, Librarian, Art & Architecture Collection, New York Public Library


Image: Emily Walz