History of the ARLIS/NA New York Chapter

The New York Chapter, organized in the spring of 1973, was the first local chapter to be officially recognized by the fledgling ARLIS/NA organization. The chapter grew quickly and within five years boasted 188 art and slide librarians—paying dues of $4.00 each. The bylaws mandated four meetings a year—a schedule that has been followed, and frequently expanded, in subsequent years as the chapter has responded to the interests and needs of its members. The diversity of meetings, workshops, tours and events since 1973 documents how the chapter has sought to fulfill its mission: to foster excellence in art librarianship and the visual arts, to stimulate the creation and use of art resources, and to provide continuing professional education. The number and frequency of activities organized by the New York Chapter reflects the proximity of its members within the greater metropolitan area—a region has expanded to include southern Connecticut, New Jersey and northern Pennsylvania.

The most ambitious project of the chapter during its first decade was the collection of announcements and catalogs from local art museums and galleries in order to document art activity in New York City. In 1975 the first and only Annual Checklist of New York City Museum and Gallery Exhibition Publications was issued. Interest in the project gradually dwindled and the collection was donated to the Fashion Institute of Technology Library in the 1980s.

ARLIS/New York News, the chapter’s newsletter, began publication in 1978 and continued—with occasional lapses—until 2012. At its best, the two-to-sixteen page newsletter contained lively reports of chapter activities, finances, and members as well as annual membership rosters, announcements of job opportunities, articles about local resources, and listings of “must see” art exhibitions. Volumes 1 through 30 (1978-2012) of ARLIS/New York News are available on the chapter website.

The chapter’s first website was launched in 2000. In 2004 an open-access listserv, arlis-ny, (hosted by NYU) was inaugurated and became a valuable conduit of information for and about the New York Chapter. In 2012 both of these internet resources were consolidated into a web-based management system designed to handle all the chapter’s communication needs including event announcements, registration, dues payment, voting, Membership Directory, and information sharing.

The first New York Chapter Travel Award was presented in 1994 to support member participation in the ARLIS/NA Annual Conference. In 2002 it was renamed the Celine Palatsky Travel Award in memory of a colleague who served as chapter treasurer for fourteen consecutive years.

The roster of Executive Board members since 1973 reveals an impressive diversity of individuals who have volunteered their time, talent, and service to the chapter in elected and appointed positions.

In addition, the New York Chapter and its members have consistently played a major role all aspects of ARLIS/NA—counting nine Presidents and eight Distinguished Service recipients among its membership.  The chapter has hosted four of the Society’s most successful and well-attended Annual Conferences:

6th          1978  Barbizon Plaza Hotel

14th       1986  Roosevelt Hotel    

18th       1990  New York Penta Hotel    

32nd      2004  Roosevelt Hotel

The New York Chapter is currently involved in planning the 46thAnnual Conference, scheduled for February 2018 at the Hilton Hotel.

--Janis Ekdahl, November 2016