ARLIS 2015 Metadata Roundup

Alright, back to the old WordPress…

Last week was spring break and it was a good thing that I was able to get some rest because I spent the last four days in Fort Worth, TX at the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) annual conference. I was totally honored and completely psyched to be this year’s recipient of their internship award, and thankfully I was able to put together some travel funds from UA and SLIS in order to attend. This being my first library-specific conference (though not my first professional or academic conference), I was somewhat nervous of what to expect. At the risk of hyperbole though, I found it to be a truly invaluable experience. Everyone that I met was super encouraging and supportive, and I can tell you now that I feel so validated, inspired, excited, and optimistic about my upcoming internship and my future in this field. I sincerely hope that everyone out there has had or is able to have this kind of experience at a conference in their field soon!

Obviously I couldn’t go to everything, but I checked out a lot of really great panels. Topics covered asset management, web archiving, collecting artist books/photobooks and artist “recordworks”, controlled vocabularies in foreign languages, and documenting art through social media. Many of the points discussed and questions asked hit on some of our favorite metadata issues. Related highlights for me included:

1. A “New Voices” panel which had a PhD candidate from UW Madison discussing contemporary Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s use of Instagram and Twitter to document his artwork. Librarians need to come up with a method for making this primary source material accessible and appropriate for student research.

2. A librarian from the Universidade de São Paulo discussing her collaboration with the main SP art museum to update and improve a controlled vocab in Portuguese. I have an MA in Latin American Studies with a focus on Brazilian art and literature so this one was right up my alley, and it also addressed pertinent issues for us in our class like how to translate concepts for which there aren’t any good equivalents in other languages.

3. A Q&A following a panel on photobook collecting that raised the age-old problem of whether to catalog as “artist book”, “photobook”, or both, and one librarian’s revolutionary effort to let the artists themselves choose their own metadata, if you will, through a brief form he gives them at point of sale.

Lastly, I had the excellent fortune of getting to attend the conference when the keynote speaker was the director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas, the Latin American art research wing of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and where I am hoping to complete my internship in Fall 2015. It was a great talk! What a blast! And now I’m ready for bed at 3:30 in the afternoon. Thanks for reading!

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