As the title of my blog suggests, my dream job is to be an art or museum librarian. I work at the School of Art at my university but don’t hold a library position and my library school does not have an art or archives focus, so I have to try a little harder to get the knowledge I need to be successful. I spent some time today cultivating my career, i.e. spending time working on the bigger picture, and wanted to share my small accomplishments and a beginner’s guide to navigating art librarianship.
I found Annie Pho’s blog post about art librarianship over at Hack Library School to be very informative and a great starting point! Check it out here. As the comments suggest, it is usually crucial to have an advanced degree in Art History to be competitive as an art librarian. I do plan to apply for jobs after my MLIS (a fellowship would be awesome!) but I’m also researching potential programs for a MA in Art History (currently considering University of Washington, Georgetown, Penn State, or Tufts depending on where we move).
The comments on the post also directed me to the ArLis/NA guide to library science programs in the United States for fine arts and visual resources librarianship. I didn’t expect my school to make the list, but it turns out this is a guide that discusses the offerings for fine arts and visual resources librarianship by each LIS school in the country. It lists specific courses my school offers that have a connection to this branch of librarianship. And, hallelujah!, it includes some courses I’ve already planned to take that are being offered next year: Digital Libraries, Humanities Information Services, Archival Theory and Issues, and Advanced Cataloging (now MLIS 7330, Metadata and Advanced Cataloging, which requires Descriptive Cataloging as a pre-req). The rest of the courses listed are on the History of the Book or Rare Books Librarianship, which sound interesting, but I think cataloging courses are more practical and beneficial for me.
I became a member of ArLis/NA and the Southeastern Registrars Association today. ArLis/NA is THE organization for art librarians and I figured it was time to join. I picked SERA because I am very interested in museum registration/collections management as well as librarianship. I am taking Preservation this semester and have chosen the works on paper collection at the Georgia Museum of Art as my adopted “library” for the course. I am working with the Head Registrar to develop a preservation plan and disaster prevention plan. In fact, I already benefited from my member’s discount since I purchased the two texts sold by the association: Steal This Handbook! A Template for Creating a Museum’s Emergency Preparedness Plan and Basic Condition Reporting: A Handbook, available here. Both will come in handy for my projects this semester as well as in the future!
I also signed up for webinars in VRA Core and PBCore, metadata schemas important in art and visual resources librarianship but not taught at my school. The webinars do cost money, but I think it’s worth the investment. VRA Core is used for visual resources and PBCore is used for audiovisual materials. In fact, a paraprofessional position in the audiovisual archives was recently posted at my university and required knowledge of PB Core. I wasn’t qualified but hope to prevent that issue in the future!
I also ordered a few standard texts for self-study! Museum Registration Methods, 5th ed. is the “bible” for museum registration. Art Museum Libraries and Librarianship is the informative guide to the field and published by ArLis/NA. Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage: A Critical Discourse was recommended by Annie and was inexpensive so I decided to go for it! I plan to do a review of each one.
Now that I have spent some time thinking about my end goal, it’s time to wrap up my self-assessment for my preservation class. Until next time!