Category Archives: Conferences

A Visit to London: Attending ARLIS UK & Ireland

Rebecca Price
Architecture, Urban Planning & Visual Resources Librarian, University of Michigan

Thames View
River Thames View

It is with great delight that I report on my recent trip to London, England. I feel fortunate to have been able both to attend the ARLIS UK & Ireland conference and to extend my stay so that I could visit a number of architecture and design libraries.

Though marked by uncharacteristically sweltering heat and dry weather, my visit was tremendously productive and meaningful in that I visited several architecture libraries and talked with their librarians. I am very grateful to support from the Kress Foundation as well as supplemental professional development funds from the University of Michigan Library making the trip possible.

Digital Fabrication at The Building Centre

The conference (July 26-27) offered two full days of programming and a day of tours of selected London libraries. I found the presentations interesting, inspiring, and highly relevant to my work. Some personal favorites were a session on the use of Special Collections to support creativity and critical thinking in the studio as well as the classroom. It was a lesson in using eccentric objects and deliberately odd experiences to provide the unexpected for students. In addition, there were several presentations on artist’s books and their value in highlighting current issues and social themes, as well as in providing meaningful hands-on learning experiences. I presented on the use and value of materials collections and happily heard several other papers offering new perspectives and experiences related to materials collections.

Materials at Central St. Martin’s, London

Four keynote speakers spoke over the two days.  With keen insight and humor, they brought new points of view challenging our norms of practice and thought. They each spoke to broader issues of librarianship, particularly in arts or special libraries. Each one challenged us to reconsider our definitions of the typical librarian, the typical library user, and the typical library. I was particularly impressed by how their words asked us to think about how our teaching methodologies and collection practices can lead to silences and excluded voices.

On the Saturday after the sessions, the organizers offered an optional tour day. I participated in two museum library tours; the National Gallery Library and the Tate Britain Library. It was truly special to be able to walk through their library collections and archives in spaces that only their library and curatorial staff can access. Particularly fascinating in the Tate Britain Archives was a model ship used by Turner in many of his seascapes and depictions of sea battles.  Everyone was exceedingly generous with their time and knowledge.

Turner’s Ship Model, Tate Britain
Turner Seascape, Tate Britain

 

 

 

 

 

 

A high point of the trip was being able to take the time to visit six art/architecture libraries. I pre-arranged meetings with each of the art and architecture librarians. Highlights were touring collections and spaces, and talking with librarians and staff at the Architectural Association, the Bartlett at University College London, the Royal College of Art, Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design, Ravensbourne University, and RIBA.

RIBA Collections, London

They graciously took the time to meet with me and talk about their libraries. It was especially inspiring to learn from them, to see their collections, and to discover the challenges that we share and those that are different.

The biggest take-away for me was realizing the surprising similarities in the work of the arts librarian in the UK and the arts librarian in North America.

Interactive Visitor Art, Tate Modern, London

In addition, I visited a few materials collections, twelve museums, and two historic houses.  I chose to visit several museums focused on art and design (The Design Museum, The Fashion and Textile Museum, The Tate Modern and Tate Britain, The V&A, The National Gallery, Sir John Soane’s Museum) and some focused more on the social history of the city (The Museum of London, The Museum of London Docklands, The Transport Museum, The Foundling Museum, and The Tower of London).

Design Museum London, Words

And there were the fun hours walking through the neighborhoods and parks of London.

Attending the ARLIS UK & Ireland conference gave me the opportunity to talk with and hear from numerous international colleagues and to gain a much deeper understanding of their work. If any of you are given the opportunity to attend in the future, I highly recommend it. And as librarians visit us from other countries, I hope that we open our collections to them as generously as was done for me.

Assessing Competencies in Architecture and Architectural History Studies

Alan Michelson
Head, Built Environments Library, University of Washington, Seattle

This February at the 2018 ARLIS/NA Conference in New York, James Sobczak and I presented our information competencies for the fields of architecture and architectural history. We received some excellent feedback there from the discussion group that was convened. Interested in expanding some of the ideas brought up there, we attended the annual conference of the Association of Architecture School Librarians in Denver, to discuss the idea of coordinating a nationwide effort to study the goals of educators in these two fields and to survey recent graduates to see if they felt they were getting skills that they needed in the workplace. With this perspective on what educators are seeking to teach and what students say that they need, we are hoping to develop data that can assist architecture school librarians with developing effective information literacy strategies. At the very least, we are hoping to understand what key courses should be targeted with greater levels of cooperative teaching from librarians. In this way, our limited time could be spent most efficiently.

Drafting Class at Armstrong Technical HS, Washington, D.C., 1942, Marjory Collins, photographer. Library of Congress Collections (Digital ID fsa 8d20247 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d20247)

Since that time, we have been in contact with a small group of volunteers to consider next steps in this long-term project. We have discussed implementing several features in our research methodology. These steps would include initial collection of data–syllabi, departmental outlines of curricula, accreditation reports, and other written statements of purpose by departmental leaders–about the courses currently taught in architecture and architectural history. An initial study period of this departmental data seems fundamental to familiarizing ourselves about the overall curricular structure, areas of pedagogical focus, and the approaches of individual instructors.

James Sobczak has developed a survey instrument for students who’ve graduated, either at the undergraduate or graduate levels. This survey focuses on skills that young professionals got while in school, and to ask if they saw any deficiencies in their training. Additionally, surveys could be prepared to query incoming graduate students about skills that they hoped to obtain while earning their degrees.

Contact me (alanmich@u.washington.edu) if you’re interested in participating.

Architecture Section Updates to ARLIS/NA Website

By Aimee Lind, Getty Research Library

All known architecture-related ARLIS/NA sessions through 2017 are now listed on the ARLIS/NA Website’s Architecture Section pages, with links to the presentations themselves where available.

Thanks to Rebecca Price for doing the legwork on this and to Mark Pompelia for updating the website. It’s so nice to have these all in one place in order to see all of the important & brilliant work our colleagues are doing! If you know of a session that is not included, please contact me at alind@getty.edu or comment below and I will make sure it is added.

New York City Meeting at ARLIS/NA 2018

Architecture Section Meeting
ARLIS/NA Annual Conference, New York
February 27, 2018

Please send any corrections to alind@getty.edu

Present:
Nilda Sanchez-Rodriguez (CCNY) – Moderator
Aimee Lind (Getty Research Library) – Vice-Moderator, Minutes
Jessica Aberle (University of Florida)
Robert Adams (BAC)
Lucy Campbell (New School of Architecture + Design)
Rachel Castro (University of Arizona)
Raymonde Champagne (Universite de Montreal)
Kitty Chibnik (Columbia University)
Karen DeWitt (North Carolina State University)
Cindy Frank (University of Maryland)
Eleanor Gawne (Architectural Association)
Ted Goodman (Avery Library)
Janine Henri (UCLA)
Katie Pierce Meyer (UT Austin)
Alan Michelson (University of Washington)
Mar González Palacios ((Canadian Centre for Architecture)
Effie Patelos (University of Waterloo)
Rebecca Price (University of Michigan)
Irene Puchalski (University of Toronto)
Shannon Robinson (Drexel University)
James Sobczak (University of Washington)
Ann Whiteside (Harvard GSD)

Self-introductions of members in attendance

Old business:
Approval of minutes from 2017 meeting
Motion to approve.
Motion seconded and passed without opposition.

Discussion: Architecture section online spaces – what’s next?
Despite a lengthy conversation on the same topic at last year’s meeting, very few people contributed to the Architecture Section’s Facebook page and Blog in 2017. Potential content could include liaison reports, conference summaries, new courses, exhibitions, renovations, books of the year, publications, or any projects or news relevant to the group. In the past, there was a sign-up sheet at the Architecture Section meeting where people committed to providing specific content. There was general agreement that this was a good way to move forward, with Rebecca Price volunteering to act as de facto blog editor. Rebecca has the sign-up list and will contact content providers a month prior to their blog publication date.

New business:
Discussion: architecture sessions/posters at ARLIS New York conference?

  • Cindy Frank presented “Life Comes First: A Solo Librarian’s Balance of Life and Work” and was a speaker at “Scope Drift – Blending and Rebranding in Visual Resources”
  • Ann Whiteside was responsible for the poster session “Building for Tomorrow: Collaborative Development of Sustainable Infrastructure for Architectural and Design Documentation” as well as an invitation-only workshop/forum on the topic of creating an infrastructure for archiving digital design data.
  • Rebecca Price presented “Building a Collection from the Ground Up” and was a speaker at “Library Collections and Object-based Learning in the Art and Design Curriculum”
  • Rebecca Price and Alan Michelson presented “Pushing the Bounds: Library as Physical and Intellectual Civic Space”
  • Shannon Robinson moderated and Alan Michelson was a speaker at “Information Competencies for Students in Design Disciplines
  • Janine Henri was a speaker at “Pushing the Boundaries: Teaching and Learning outside the Classroom”
  • Aimee Lind presented “No Art Library Left Behind: Cross-Border Resource Sharing Among Art Libraries”

Discussion: new directions for Architecture Section?

  • Alan Michelson discussed “Information Competencies for Students in Design Disciplines” and the effort to reinvigorate the information competencies created by ARLIS in 2006. See Farrell & Badke’s 2015 report “Situating Information Literacy in the Disciplines: A Practical and Systematic Approach for Academic Librarians”. He suggested creating focus groups amongst faculty to determine priorities. If we can create a network of focus groups, we will then have the data on learning outcomes from our peers to take to faculty. Ideas suggested included polling recent alumni regarding perceived gaps in their education and taking that back to faculty focus groups. Effie Patelos reported that the University of Waterloo has hired an information literacy librarian. Embedded librarians may be able to map competencies to what is being taught using syllabi. The relative merits of focus groups vs. surveys were debated with a caveat to appreciate differing local contexts (undergrad, grad, accredited, unaccredited, basic to intermediate to terminal degree expertise). Janine Henri suggested aligning with ACSA to get faculty buy-in. Consider what is *our* place to meet *their* expectations? Are we only the support/service people or can we have a partnership with faculty, providing an essential education in image research, copyright, etc. that may be left out of curriculum otherwise? Focus groups could present an opportunity to guide the conversation. Should we examine syllabi first or survey first? To be continued…

Reports:
Janine Henri – update on SAH conference activities:

  • Janine reported on the 2016 Pasadena conference and the 2017 Glasgow conference, including informing the group about publishing sessions, and library visits to the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde. She encouraged us all to reach out to colleagues when traveling to other cities/countries. Janine also mentioned Barbara Opar’s extremely useful new book list, published on the SAH website monthly. SAHARA now has over 100,000 images. The 2018 SAH meeting will be held in St. Paul, MN 4/18/18-4/22/18 and in Providence, RI in 2019.

Aimee Lind- update on CalArchNet:

  • CalArchNet is an informal group of librarians, archivists, and curators working with architecture archives in California. Aimee briefly reported on the group’s last meeting in Palm Springs and their upcoming meeting at Cal Poly SLO and Hearst Castle. For more information, email calarchnet@gmail.com.

Gabriella Karl-Johnson on AASL:
“A Brief Update on AASL: Strategic Planning Implementation + 2018 Denver conference” (Aimee read this report from Gabriella, who was unable to attend)

  • As some of you may know, since late 2015 the Association of Architecture School Librarians has been actively working on strategic planning for the first time in the association’s history. In October of 2016 the Executive Board approved a new Strategic Directions document, including a new Mission statement, Vision statement, and a set of Strategic Directions objectives. (The full document is available on AASL’s newly redesigned website at http://www.architecturelibrarians.org/strategicdirections .) The document was drafted by the Strategic Planning Task Force based upon input from our membership and feedback gathered during the well-attended Strategic Planning Session held at the 2016 AASL conference in Seattle. The Strategic Planning Task Force has now given way to a Strategic Directions Implementation Committee, which is working on concrete ways to enact the objectives outlined in the Strategic Directions document. Our upcoming 2018 conference in Denver will provide a forum via a two-hour planning session for the full membership to discuss and help shape the ways that our strategic directions will translate to action. Speaking of the conference, the 2018 AASL conference will be held in Denver on March 14-17. We will be meeting alongside the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture conference at the I.M.Pei-designed Sheraton Hotel, and the AASL conference planners have worked into the schedule more time for cross-pollination between ACSA and AASL. The conference will offer an excellent complement of presentations and talks based around the theme of identity, as well as walking tours of Denver that promise to provide views of the city’s history and recent transformations. Registration is open until March 3, and we hope to see you in Denver!”

Ted Goodman – update on Avery Index:

  • Ted is retiring in June. The Avery Index will continue though he doesn’t believe his position will be refilled, rather there will likely be some restructuring within Avery and possible reexamination of the Index’s coverage. Congratulations Ted! We are so grateful for your tireless work that benefits us all every day!

Visit to Avery Library: Details
Directions were provided for our visit to the Avery Library. It was agreed that we would meet at the Hilton’s tour gathering spot near conference registration.

Call for Vice-Moderator
A call went out for incoming Vice-Moderator (Salt Lake City) / Moderator (Saint Louis) but there were no takers. Aimee will send out another call on the listserv.

Meeting Adjourned

CalArchNet Group

By Aimee Lind, Getty Research Institute

Founded in 2016 by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Director of Special Collections Jessica Holada and Getty Research Institute librarian Aimee Lind, CalArchNet (pronounced Cal-Ark-Net) was conceived as a means to foster dialogue and collaboration among librarians, archivists, and curators at California institutions that house architecture archives. CalArchNet provides a twice-yearly forum for this specialized group of professionals to learn more about California architecture, understand the ways California architecture records are used, share information and expertise, seek advice, build a community committed to standard practices that improve operations and services, and bring greater visibility to collections and programs.

October 27th, 2017 marked the third meeting of CalArchNet, held at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Architecture and Design Center, with representatives from thirteen California institutions in attendance. Topics discussed included historic site preservation research methodology, leveraging statewide resources to enhance discovery of collections, security considerations, GIS mapping technologies, and the use of linked open data to make connections between collections. The day concluded with a curator-led tour of the exhibition Albert Frey and Lina Bo Bardi: A Search for Living Architecture.

If you’re an archivist, librarian, or curator working with architecture archives in California and would like to become involved with CalArchNet, email calarchnet@gmail.com or check our website for more information. The next CalArchNet meeting is scheduled for March 30th, 2018 at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.