As someone working towards becoming an art librarian, I often find myself in conversations defending the arts, libraries, or both. This task is a bit easier, and a lot more effective, if you have some numbers and compelling arguments to back you up. In this series of posts, I thought I’d share some resources I’ve found that can help us advocate for the arts and for libraries. This first post will look at general library advocacy.
The ALA has some fantastic resources in their Campaign for America’s Libraries. This project works to increase public awareness of the importance of libraries and librarians. Although some points are geared more towards public libraries, many are relevant for the advocacy of libraries in general. Here are a few excerpts from their Key Messages:
“Libraries are changing and dynamic places. Today’s libraries go beyond books. While still offering traditional print resources, libraries have free computers, access to the Internet, free wi-fi and more.” This is one of the most common misconceptions I find among people who don’t often visit libraries. People are perplexed when I tell them my goal is to become a librarian – why devote your career to a dying industry? Whether print books will stick around in future generations or not, this demonstrates the importance of updating the image of libraries and talking about the work we do to stay relevant.
“Communicate about librarians as well as libraries.The campaign’s messages are designed to ensure that target audiences know that today’s librarian is a well-trained, technology-savvy, information expert who can enrich the learning process of any library user.” Many people aren’t sure about what exactly librarians do, nor do they realize the difference between librarians and library technicians or library assistants. Here are a few great examples from the Campaign’s Talking Points:
“Librarians are the ultimate search engine. Librarians are trained experts in finding information, wherever it is — in books, in archives, on the Web.”
“In a world of information overload, librarians are information navigators — clearing a path, pointing you toward the information you need.”
The ALA is also a great source for stats and figures. This Quotable Facts about America’s Libraries pamphlet, 2012 edition, has some interesting insights into the current situation of libraries in the U.S. The annotated edition provides links and citations. A few tidbits for academic libraries:
“College libraries receive just less than three cents of every dollar spent on higher education.”
“If the cost of People magazine had risen as fast as the cost of academic library periodicals since 1990, it would cost about $182 for a one-year subscription.”
“There are 584 students enrolled for every librarian in 2- and 4-year colleges and universities in 2010 in the U.S. as compared with 14 students for each teaching faculty member.”
This number is even larger among Canadian Research Libraries: CARL Statistics from 2010-2011 listed 627 students per librarian.
We’d love to hear from you: what are the most common misconceptions you’ve found come up in conversations with non-library-users? How do you respond? What are your tips for speaking up for libraries?
Shannon Robinson is the Fine Arts Librarian at Denison University.
The American Library Association (ALA) Annual held in June 2013 was my first ALA conference. I was awarded the New Members Round Table’s (NMRT) Professional Development Grant to attend the conference. I have been a member of NMRT for about a year. Similar to ARLiSNAP, NMRT members are students and new professionals. The group focuses on career development and leadership opportunities within ALA.
In the past year I also joined the Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Arts section. ACRL Arts is the area of ALA that supports librarians and specialists working in the visual and performing arts. At the conference, ACRL Arts held a committee meeting followed by two presentations.
Amanda Meeks and Michelle Strizever presented Uncovering Hidden Art Collections about their summer 2012 work as the Smithsonian Libraries interns for artists’ books. Amanda and Michelle are also co-coordinators of ARLIS/NA’s Book Art Special Interest Group. Librarians who catalog and maintain artists’ book collections face many unique challenges. Many library staff members don’t understand preservation needs of artists’ books, which are actually artworks. Book art collections often share funding with other, more popular collections and book art collections would greatly benefit from better cataloging (including visuals in the item records). During their internship, Amanda and Michelle curated an exhibit of artists’ books from the Smithsonian’s collection. To promote the exhibition, they held a well-attended opening reception and blogged about the collection on Smithsonian Libraries Unbound.
Alex Watkins made the case for Why Open Access Matters for the Arts. It doesn’t seem like a strong case; after all, Alex reminded us, arts journals are the lowest journal prices of all the disciplines. However, universities around the world can’t necessarily afford these journals. Art history scholarship about a community (particularly non-western) can’t even be read by that community! For patrons of these libraries, open access is the only access. Another important point Alex made is that paywalls create a divide between academia and the public. The general public is very much engaged and interested in the arts yet cut off from much of the research and intellectual conversation about the arts. Open access invites the public to participate in this scholarship.
I was very impressed with both presentations and met new librarians at the meeting. I recommend joining the ACRL Arts listserv and, if you are a member of ACRL, join the section – it’s free! NMRT and ACRL Arts have made my ALA membership worthwhile.
ALA 2013 is drawing to a close, and we hope those of you who made it to the Windy City had a fulfilling experience!
We’re looking for a few good arlisnappers to provide a post-conference writeup. Did you participate in any VRC or art library-relevant sessions or see a great poster session? Visit any of Chicago’s incredible museums and want to tell us about an exhibit? Bonus points if you made it to any ACRL-Arts section meetings!
Even if you didn’t make it to any arts-focused events, what did you see that might generally be applicable to the arlisnap and ARLIS/NA community and new librarians? Interesting applications of existing or new technology? Creative approaches to instruction or outreach? Discussions of non-traditional collections? Cataloging for the zine librarian?
Via ACRL Update:
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is accepting applications for its Immersion ’11 Program. Complete program details and application materials are online at http://www.acrl.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/events/ (click “Immersion 11 Program”). The application deadline is Dec. 1, 2010.
The ACRL Immersion ’11 Program provides four-and-a-half days of intensive information literacy training and education for academic librarians, to be held July 24-29, 2011, at Seattle University in Seattle. The Teacher Track focuses on individual development for those who are interested in enhancing, refreshing or extending their individual instruction skills. Curriculum includes classroom techniques, learning theory, leadership and assessment framed in the context of information literacy. The Program Track focuses on developing, integrating and managing institutional and programmatic information literacy programs. Participants selected for the Program Track will develop individual case studies in advance of the Immersion program.
Acceptance to Immersion ’11 is competitive to ensure an environment that fosters group interaction and active participation. The application deadline is Dec. 1, 2010, and notifications will be issued in February 2011. Complete program details and application materials are online. Send questions concerning the program or application process to Margot Conahan at (312) 280-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New Members Round Table (NMRT) Mentoring Committee is pleased to announce that they are accepting applications for their Conference Mentoring Program for the ALA Annual Conference in June!
Attending your first ALA Conference?
Overwhelmed by all the programs and events available at Annual?
Sign up for a Conference Mentor today!
The Conference Mentoring Program is open to all ALA members and is designed to connect a first time conference attendee with a ‘seasoned professional’ who can help them navigate the ALA Annual Conference. If you are on your way to becoming a librarian, or are new to the profession, this program is for you!
Interested in having a Conference Mentor? For the guidelines and an online application form please visit
The application deadline is May 15, 2010 for first consideration.
Applicants will be matched with a Conference Mentor in June and communicate via email or telephone prior to the conference and then meet during the conference.
If you have questions, please contact the NMRT Mentoring Committee at nmrt_mentoring(at)yahoo(dot)com
Please note that this mentoring program is not structured to provide career guidance, it is focused on issues related to the ALA Annual Conference. NMRT also offers a Career Mentoring program that will begin taking applications at the end of the summer. Please watch for an announcement regarding Career Mentoring later this year.
Call For *virtual* presenters at ACRL-ARTS/ ALA Midwinter in Boston. Bryan highlighted this on the ArliSNAP blog a few weeks back http://arlisnap.org/2009/11/23/call-for-virtual-presenters-ala-arts-section/ . The deadline has been just been extended to DECEMBER 18, so there is still time to submit a proposal! This is a GREAT opportunity to add ‘oomph’ to your resume without having to travel or pay conference registration. See the original post for submission guidelines and contact info.
(Cross posted from ARLIS-L) Love the arts? Wanna get some culture in Boston during ALA Midwinter? Be sure to check out ACRL Art Section’s ArtsGuide! This selective guide to cultural attractions and events will help you maximize your time outside of the convention center.
There’s also a helpful google map supplement:
Find the Boston guide, google map, and past guides at:
Download the PDF to the Boston guide:
ALA Midwinter attendees are cordially invited to participate in a FREE behind-the-scenes tour of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, MA, on Friday, January 15, 2010. Highlights include the paper conservation labs where many of the nation’s most significant cultural heritage materials have been treated, and the Center’s Imaging Services department where the digitization and preservation microfilm units operate. Preservation Services staff will speak briefly about workshops and conferences on topics ranging from basic book repair to scrapbook preservation to digitization.
A BUS WILL BE PROVIDED, leaving Boston at 1:30 PM and returning by 5:30PM. The tour is offered free of charge. There are only a few spaces left – sign up today! RSVP by December 11, 2009 to Julie Martin, jmartin [at] nedcc [dot] org, or (978) 470-1010 ext. 217.