last bit of notes from arlis pasadena

The final day of ARLIS Pasadena was full of great sessions. In the morning, I attended Doing Data Together: Engaging End-Users in Building Richer Resources, More Efficiently. Here are my notes:

BWR: Collaborating to Document the World’s Built Environment  by Carole Ann Fabian, Director, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
Built Works Registry – architects and designers; building or structure that has been built (even if no longer present) and is habitable at the human scale
– for artworks and architectural structures, there is no equivalent to ISBN or ISSN…had to create a unique identifier system
– core data is a disaster and needs to be limited and corrected…even not consistent across singular database
– three major work efforts: policies (founders and contributor agreements); tools and infrastructure (ARTstor; data – contribution environment, repositories, sharing); content (name, location, unique ID required for Core)
– content development: curate, aggregate, disambiguate, normalize, enhance
– enhancing data: geo-coding strategy (issues with buildings outside traditional locations like named streets or issues with anonymity so they created a hierarchal data block to deal with levels of generality/specificity)
– How will Built Works Registry gain scale? institutional contributory model and expert crowdsourcing experiment

Your Paintings: The UK’s Entire Public Oil Paintings Collection Goes Online For The World To See  by Andrew Ellis, Director, The Public Catalogue Foundation
– opening up UK’s public art collections for enjoyment, learning and research
– engaging the collections: creating your paintings; 80% of paintings in UK are in storage…
– publicly owned – over 210,000 paintings in oil, tempera, acrylic, and mixed media
– 50% of collections have fewer than 10 paintings!
– London team doing data processing, image management, editing and copyright clearance (2,700 cataloging contracts, 30 freelance photographers, 50 regional researchers, over 6 mil pounds over 10 years)
– 300,000 unique users per month
Galaxy Zoo as inspiration for cataloging; free text workflows and fixed list workflows; over 9,000 registered taggers
– Tweet about this painting and it automatically links your tweet back to painting!
– technology + goodwill + verification = useful resource

The Creator as Cataloger: Shared Shelf and Faculty Collections by Vickie O’Riordan, University of California San Diego Library
– using social media can bridge the gap between expert and non-expert
– digitizing audiovisual materials from department of music…using shared shelf allows the faculty member to do the metadata
– Zambian Storytellers project has over 1,300 stories to be documented (over 20 years of field work) – committed to share his work as freely as possible and can sure it with the University of Zambia!!!
-inSite: public projects

Then I switched directions and listened to Sue Maberry (Director of Library and Instructional Technology), Debra Ballard (English faculty and Chair of Liberal Arts and Sciences), and Parme Giuntini (Art Historian and Director of Art History) from Otis College of Art and Design talk about teaching and assessing information literacy across the curriculum. Some notes from the session:
– first efforts: one shot library visits; required 1 unit research class (didn’t work; not sustainable) – lack of transference of research skills in these efforts
– embedded in curriculum. how? move from faculty and librarian working together to faculty and librarian involved in curriculum and course design
– TILT Texas Information Literacy Tutorial for students (3 hour tutorial) – didn’t really work; seemed like an add-on and the faculty didn’t even have the skills!
– We began to think that librarians were more than people who help us find things to people who make us think about information.
– mentor to student researchers; instructional partner to faculty
– “must be nice to have a PhD; your students don’t”
– step by step pathfinders @ OTIS
– create an evaluation form for student annotated bibliographies asking them to do a citation, evaluate, and tell where the source was found – it’s on web
– embedded video tutorials in online syllabi
– embedded instruction: scavenger hunts, show and tell, chronology lesson using Oxford Art Online
– curriculum mapping: proficiencies identified by librarian and instruction, assignments, & assessments
– redesigned first year core to include readings on the role of information in society, intellectual property & copyright, and social media
– aligned information literacy and critical thinking (getting the faculty to know that they are very similar and require each other)
– mandatory guided research module into course assignment – turned into training faculty to assist with guided research and this gave librarians the opportunity to talk with faculty about how the students are researching
– iSearch: paper about how they did their research
– library assessment has moved from data stats (circ, gate counts) to instruction
– VALUE rubric…
– started learning portfolio on learning management system to have students track their research and discoveries over their 4 years
– baby steps mean you don’t fail too much and it’s easy to pick yourself up!
– sell your services to one faculty member in the department and let them do the internal outreach for you

more notes from arlis pasadena

On Saturday, after a very early ARLIS/Ohio Valley meeting, I was able to attend more sessions and lectures. First up was The Evolution of Art Reference and Instruction: Outreach, Overlay, Online. Here are my notes from that great group of speakers:

Assessing Online Reference Services through ARLIS’ Information Competencies for Students in Design Disciplines by Audrey Ferrie, Information Literacy Librarian, Academy of Art University
– ARLIS Information Literacy Competencies and Remote Reference Benchmark
– wants to use reference stats in a meaningful and productive way and determine if she was hitting her benchmarks (online)
– RUSA guidelines for reference interview; Internet Public Library standards (best practices for email reference)
– created codes for the standards and applied codes to the reference questions (emails) and assessed through codes (essentially summarized competency into a few words and then labeled: orientation to information/organization and access/ searching/topic/strategy and search techniques/citation)
– assessed reference responses by the codes and then went back and rewrote the responses to better meet the needs of IL standards
– now codes as the emails come in and writes according to the standard

Deeply Embedded: Library/Studio Partnerships in the Development of Graduate Design Curriculum by Michael Wirtz, Head of Research and Library Technology, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar
– student deficiencies: identification of thesis topics; collection and use of information; development of a research plan; organization and presentation of info; comprehension of what research is and how it relates to design
– developed hybrid studio/lecture course; team teaching model with graphic design faculty
– emphasis on collecting and using information (not just text scholarship!)
– simplified as a mini thesis exploration
– presented the non-linear design process which iterates the non-linear research process in the arts

Embedding Outside Your Comfort Zone: Reference & Instruction for the Non-Art Side of Arts Management  by Kimberly Detterbeck, Art Librarian, Purchase College SUNY
– useful sources: Guidestar, artnet, Nielsen Reports, Opera America, PollStar Pro, Billboard Charts for Professionals

(m) iReference: Roaming, Flashing and Embedding with Mobile Technology by Liv Valmestad, Art Librarian, University of Manitoba
– moving from collection centered to engagement centered; increases visibility of library; point of need reference
– uses Optoma Pico PK 100 projector (hand held) and accessories to attach projector to iPad or iPhone
Mobile Technology for Art and Architecture
–  from The User Experience: Revamping Reference
– document the service and tie to strategic plan

That afternoon I had the privilege to moderate a session, Alt-ARLIS: How Non-Traditional Paths Can Serve Your Career and Society. A quick survey of the audience, via clicker questions, showed that most attendees were students or young professionals. Meredith Kahn (Publishing Services and Outreach Librarian, University of Michigan), Ian McDermott (Collection Development Associate, ARTstor), Jamie Lausch Vander Broek (Exhibits and Programming Librarian and Learning Librarian, University of Michigan), and Alice Whiteside (Librarian and Information Technology Consultant, Mount Holyoke College) all discussed how they work in non-art jobs but still call ARLIS/NA their home. With the growing diversity of ARLIS’ members and the need for young professionals to be creative in finding their first job, Alt-ARLIS may have a future as a repeated session or SIG!

I finished off the day checking out the exhibits and posters sessions. I also sat in on Olivia Miller’s (MLIS candidate, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) Power Up! How Can Academic Libraries Collect for Video Game Design Students. She introduced me to some great resources like Gamasutra, Kotaku, and Polycount Forum.

notes from arlis pasadena

The first full day of ARLIS/NA Pasadena was rather busy! I spent the morning attend Rebecca Feind’s (Librarian for Art and Design, San Jose State University) and Kathy Clarke’s (Librarian, James Madison University) workshop Crafting Assessment Questions: Creating the Tools to Assess Information Literacy Objectives for Art and Design. The session allowed us to try developing our own multiple choice questions for assessing competency. The most valuable lesson of the workshop: assessment takes time and practice. Writing effective test questions is rather hard! Fortunately, Rebecca and Kathy created a LibGuide, ArtScore: Creating Assessment Questions for Information Literacy Competencies for Art and Design.

In the afternoon I attended the ARLiSNAP section meeting for Art Library Students and New ARLIS Professionals. It’s a great group for meeting young art librarians and the blog has helped many folks find jobs and internships. I’m hoping to become more involved in ARLiSNAP in the coming year.

Much of the afternoon was spent in the session in which I was presenting, New Voices in the Profession. Yvonne B. Lee (Research Assistant, Placa Project) was a terrific speaker. She presented on the Placa Project which is archiving Los Angeles gang graffiti, making the project easily accessible to street artists. Marsha Taichman (Visual Resources and Public Services Librarian, Cornell University) discussed her involvement in developing Visual Resources Talks (brown bag lunches) at Cornell. Amanda Milbourn (Assistant Librarian, Disney Consumer Products) presented her MLIS project on embedding visual literacy instructors into undergraduate classes. She won the Gerd Muehsam Award for this as the best graduate student paper!

I presented my research on and interviews with young Egyptian contemporary artists. In July 2012, I interviewed eight Egyptians living in Cairo about their information needs. My paper provided an overview of the higher education system in Egypt and the contemporary art community in Cairo. Then I discussed some of my findings from the interviews. I received a lot of positive feedback and interest in the work! This summer, I hope to find an outlet to publish this research as an article.

graffiti, Cairo, Egypt
graffiti, Cairo, Egypt

brain activity in dead salmon and wine in a blender: or, what i learned at AAAS 2013

In mid-February I attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting. The theme of the five-day meeting was The Beauty and Benefits of Science. This theme supports the movement from STEM education to STEAM, adding Art to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Many of the panels focused on the use of visualizations and creative practices in the lab. Some of the panels I attended were very engaging to visual and performing artists. Here are some brief notes from those speakers.

Artful Science (3 of 5 lectures)
The Herbarium as Muse: Plant Specimens as Inspiration
Maura Flannery (Biology, St. John’s University, NY) provided a visual history of herbariums. While she differentiated on the more scientific views of botanists to those of artists and curiosity collectors, Flannery also emphasized that the field would not have been able to move forward without  artists’ illustrations of specimens. She also commented on contemporary artists inspired by plants including John Sarra, Amy Youngs, and Michele Oka Doner.

Dimension of Time in Strange Attractors
Robert Krawczyk (College of Architecture, IIT) created software to generate algorithms. His artwork is an outcome of these equations.  The images embody movement and dimensionality, suggesting new ways to consider space.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.20.19 PM
Bends Through I by Krawczyk

Sand Dollars, Echinodermata, and Radiolaria: Sculptural Forms from Hyperbolic Tessellations
George Hart uses mathematical applications to create sculpture and video. Many of his sculptures are made of small, simple shapes that can be connected into large, complex forms. Hart is now exploring 3D printing to make models of his pieces and to create more fragile tessellations.

Echinodermania (detail) by Hart
Echinodermania (detail) by Hart

Evidence from Music, Fiction, and the Visual Arts: Transfer of Learning from the Arts? (3 of 5 lectures)
This was an interesting set of presentations about the transferability of art skills to other (specifically science and math) domains. What surprised me was the intense focus of the research, selecting one tangible skill (ie drawing) and seeing if it directly applies to one specific field (ie geometry). While I am certain that technical training in the arts can enhance learning and understanding in other disciplines, I was hoping to see a panel of psychologists consider the cognitive aspect of art appreciation. These three lectures touched on this aspect.

What Does it Mean to be Musical? On the Genetics of Music Ability
Daniel J. Levitin (psychology, McGill University) uses music as a model for understanding “gene by environment” interactions. Music is multi-modal because the components of discipline can be seen as variations in expertise; and, components of expertise may not be directly related to music (physicality, memory, attention). Though his research is still inconclusive, Levitin’s work shows the depth of the arts as comprised of both field-specific skill sets and broad elements of nature/nurture.

Visual Art as Non-Artificial – and thus Transferable? – Domain of Expertise
Aaron Kozbelt (psychology, CUNY) studies drawing as a flexible skill set that may transfer to other domains that also require that skill set. He has done extensive research on artists and concludes that the arts is a domain that is robust and easily adaptable. Because artists see the world differently, studying the arts may transfer skills of perception, contrast sensitivity, and object recognition, among others.

Effects of Literature
Keith Oatley (psychology, University of Toronto) considered the cognitive benefits of reading fiction and other forms of creative writing. His research has demonstrated that people who read fiction “engage in social simulations and get better at understanding selves” while those who read non-fiction “get better at the subject matter” of what they are reading. Reading fiction not only increases an understanding of self but also increases empathy and teaches skill sets applicable to social interaction.

Benefits Beyond Beauty: Integration of Art and Design into STEM Education and Research
Instead of individual presentations, these panelist elected to briefly introduce themselves and then break the session attendees into groups for conversation. The panelists were Gunalan Nadarajan (Dean of School of Art & Design, University of Michigan), Brian K. Smith (RISD), J.D. Talasek (National Academy of Sciences), and Marina McDougall (Exploratorium, San Francisco). All of these panelists’ work focus on bridging art and science in education at their respective institutions. The outcome of the session demonstrated that, while the two disciplines are beginning an important conversation, there are questions, uncertainties, misconceptions, and above all, fear.

The other lectures I attended made me acutely aware of this disconnect between science and art. Many of the scientists seemed unfamiliar with contemporary art and appeared uncomfortable with works in mediums other than traditional painting or drawing. Most of the scientists did not explore art beyond the visuals necessary for their own work.

One scientist did, however. Tom Kirchhausen of Harvard Medical exclusively studies clathrin coats which are how cells eat (and spit). Working at the molecular level, Kirchhausen realized he needed strong visuals to demonstrate his work and teach cellular structure to his students. Clathrin coats take about a minute to form and then go away. Because there is the element of time in clathrin lifecycles, Kirchhausen has selected video over still images. More importantly, he sets music to these videos. I asked him about his choice in adding sound. He said that he felt the music provided a narrative to that lifecycle that was easy for his students (and others) to miss otherwise. Kirchhausen’s work was one of the few lectures I attended where a scientist used art and technology to not only complement but enhance his research.

from Nathan Myhrvold's Modernist Cuisine cookbook. He gave a Plenary Lecture at AAAS 2013.
from Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine cookbook. He gave a Plenary Lecture at AAAS 2013. Photo credit Ryan Matthew Smith/Modernist Cuisine, LLC

At the AAAS science librarians session, Denison’s Natural Sciences Librarian Moriana Garcia and I presented The Library as Bridge Between Science and Art. We introduced the history of the disciplines in relationship to Snow’s The Two Cultures and the latest news about the STEAM initiative. We also discussed contemporary studies on creativity in the research process. From here we demonstrated examples of interdisciplinarity at Dension’s library, mentioning collection development and exhibitions. We finished by framing the trend for makerspaces in libraries as part of the STEAM campaign, teaching creativity and inviting serendipitous discovery in the library. Learn more on our Science and Art guide.

Attending the AAAS meeting as an artist and as a librarian was an excellent opportunity for me to gain an understanding of how other disciplines view the arts. The arts are often marginalized in education and while STEAM intends to change that, exploring new pedagogy without artists’ insight could be damaging. Likewise, as I move forward with my research in creativity, talking with those in the STEM disciplines will provide me with a richer understanding of how the library as service and space can support innovation in STEM.

new school year, new job

By the end of the summer I was missing in action. A trip to Cairo to interview visual artists and creative writers ended with a request for a phone interview for a great job opportunity. Four weeks (and a rushed flight for an on-campus interview) later I was turning in a resignation letter and packing a suitcase for Columbus, Ohio.

For two months now I have been the new Fine Arts Liaison Librarian at Denison University, a small, undergraduate liberal arts community. I work with the visual and performing arts departments. A key factor in my decision to work at Denison was the arts departments commitment to the studio process as a research process. The Studio Art department introduction reads like my personal mission statement and I’m delighted to be working with folks who are passionate about developing young artists to be public intellectuals.

I didn’t get this great job by staring at a blank wall. A few resources were essential to my job searching process.

Open Cover Letters helped me discover the right length and formality for my letter. I was able to borrow terms and see what about my previous experience I needed to emphasize. As a thank you to the librarians who shared their successful letters openly, I’ll be submitting mine for future emerging professionals.

need a new job?

In late spring I had signed on to ARLIS/NA’s Mentoring Program and asked to be paired with an experienced art librarian who has presented and published scholarship. ARLIS did a wonderful job of finding me a mentor who I can email and call with any and all questions (and gripes). Talking to an experience professional of whom I could ask the most difficult questions and also share my small successes was extremely important during the job search and interview process.

ArLiSNAP came in handy too – when the job posting popped up on their blog! But even before the Denison job was posted by them, ArLiSNAP’s Educational and Development Opportunities linked me to a webinar on job hunting for academic librarians. The hour-long lunchtime chat launched my search process.

And here I am! New town, new friends, and a lot more to discover.



embedded librarianship

Earlier this week I attended the South Central Regional Library Council‘s webinar Embedded Librarians: What, Why, How hosted by Laura Saunders. I’m really interested in the idea of librarians working outside the library. As print gets stored away for computers and databases, the library as physical place for access to information is becoming passe. Slowly, I admit (and hope) but nonetheless it seems to be the current perspective of our customer.

It’s important to note here that customer is Saunders’ term. She uses it, as well as client, instead of patron. While this is in part to make the webinar feel targeted to a variety of librarians regardless of their setting, it also redefines the user for the librarian. Patron gives a sense of relationship to an entity, the library, as opposed to a person and also suggests membership (which itself suggests exclusion, though Anthony Molaro would disagree). Customer or client, though I find them sterile, brings to mind customer service and a pledge to assistance. Embedded librarianship is an opportunity for us to proactively prioritize user experience over library resource development.

Saunders defined embedded librarianship by what it does and where it does it: co-location, course integrated, just in time, and doing rounds are all terms that embedded librarianship embraces. The characteristics also help define what has become an umbrella term for “out from behind the desk” librarianship. These characteristics include:

becoming integrated into the community of clients, namely by location ourselves in their space (physically and virtually)

a strong subject specialization accompanied by strong customer service skills

continually engaging with members of the community through meeting, teaching, and evaluation

embedded librarians are more engaging...Roxbury Crossing story time from Boston Public Library's Flickr
embedded librarians are more engaging…Roxbury Crossing story time from Boston Public Library’s Flickr

Typical services of an embedded librarian do include our usual reference and instruction, but provides a value-added service. Saunders suggests the importance of collaboration with community members  and synthesizing information for those members (there’s that word again…). Our users value our ability to selectively disseminate information.

Furthermore, removing ourselves from the library may help users with intimidation and anxiety issues to feel more comfortable approaching us. In turn users who work with us in a less daunting environ (say their own space or a coffee shop) will increase their confidence which will likely lead to increased library use. In my view, this might be the greatest value-added service embedded librarianship could provide.

swtxpca: where pedagogy, science fiction, and cross-dressing come together

Last week I was at the Southwest Texas Popular and American Culture Associations‘ (SWTXPCA) annual conference in Albuquerque. I learned so much while there and flew home with my head full of ideas and intended research. To give an idea of the diversity of conversation and innovative scholarship happening around the world, here is my Must Read & Learn list from the conference.

the ADDIE model as a learning theory

watch Alton Brown how-to cooking videos

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter

The Art Museum from Boullee to Bilbao by Andrew McClellan

explore The Brownie’s Book and its history (from January 1920; from the Library of Congress, this takes a while to load)

Creating a Personal Research Agenda by Brad Neuberg

Creating a Research Agenda by Justin Reedy and Madhavi Murty

the Library Bar and Grill in Albuquerque
the Library Bar and Grill in Albuquerque

Computer Lib/Dream Machines by Ted Nelson

Critically Queer by Judith Butler

Cultural Theory and Popular Culture by John Storey

Culture Wars by James Davison Hunter

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

the articles and books posted on EverdayLiteracies by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel as well as following their blog by the same title

The Future of Nostalgia by Svetlana Boym

Institute for the Future of the Book

the Kahn Academy model of teaching

Korean Shamanism 


Mapping Out a Research Agenda slideshow by Barbara G. Ryder

Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books by H. J. Jackson

Narrative as Virtual Reality by Marie-Laure Ryan

Our Lady of...UFOs? graffiti in Albuquerque
Our Lady of…UFOs? graffiti in Albuquerque

Neuromancer by William Gibson

The New Media Reader by editors Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Monfort

Of Other Spaces by Michel Foucault

Planned Obsolescence by Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Possiplex by Ted Nelson (after trudging though Computer Lib/Dream Machines and maybe I’ll finally understand Project Xanadu)


The Production of Space by Henri Lefebvre

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real and Imagined Places by Edward Soja

Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety by Marjorie Garber

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

library day in the life, #libday8

I’m participating in Library Day in the Life hosted by Bobbi Newman of Librarian by Day.

I slept in this morning because I just wasn’t ready to face Tuesday. The two dogs and my husband were sleeping soundly so why should I be crawling around at day break? It means I missed reading the paper, but it will be there when I get home.

I’m responsible for opening the library at 8 a.m. Purchase the newspapers, count the petty cash, and log in to the computers. Some mornings patrons barge in immediately; usually students who didn’t do their homework (that’s due at 8:30) or faculty with last minute needs for class. But today it’s quiet.

After checking my email, I type up my notes from my reading last night. I’m really interested in the art studio process as a research process. Since creativity is a must-have in this global economy, flux with unpredictable cultural shifts, I believe artists will be in demand as public intellectuals leading innovative projects, developing new products and services that can’t be computerized or manufactured overseas. Currently I’m reading Out of Our Minds by Sir Ken Robinson. Yesterday I finished A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. The brain is the key to creativity so I’m brushing up on the latest science.

There’s a cart of new books to be checked and ordered for shelving. I break from the computer to do this. Well, I break from my laptop to use the circulation computer to do this. Glowing screens permeate my day.

I keep my Google Reader open during the day and take short breaks to skim the latest. I follow a lot of blogs on librarianship, art, culture, and taxidermy (don’t ask). I also update LibraryThing since I finished reading a few books recently and discover that I just won The Odditorium by Melissa Pritchard through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer! It doesn’t get any better than free books. I love coming home to a new book to review from Library Journal or ARLIS/NA.

It’s 10:00 a.m. and still ridiculously quiet. I have three classes this afternoon so I shouldn’t complain, but I could use some human interaction. All I hear is the security gate’s piercing hum and students enjoying themselves half a floor above me at the mezzanine’s cafe. This doesn’t feel like an academic library and makes it hard to want to work on various web projects like subject guides and policy manuals…I buckle down to work on a subject guide about women and art.

I take an early lunch since I have classes starting at 1 p.m. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. I talk non-stop. It’s 3 50-mintue hour library overviews (mini-tour, review the catalog and databases). Somehow I maintain enthusiasm throughout the afternoon, but I find myself slipping by the end of the last class. Fortunately, I handed out brief evaluation forms and the results were very positive. The sophomores learned about Boolean logic, EBSCOhost now housing WilsonWeb materials, interlibrary loan, and much more.

I leave around 4:30 p.m. I walk home (60 degrees in January in the Northeast?!) and skip cleaning the house to do my mini-French lessons. I’m refreshing my French from high school and it’s been pretty easy so far. Hopefully I’ll be reading Le Petit Prince again soon.

The rest of the evening is dog walking and dinner. I’ll admit to watching Auction Hunters (I love Ton) and Ink Master (go Shane!) before settling in to read until I fall asleep.