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After the opening convocation and reception at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Art Librarians Association of North America Conference got into full swing on Saturday morning.

The first session was the opening plenary, with remarks by James Neal of Columbia University Libraries, entitled, Progressive Change: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century Art Library, with responses by four librarians representing different aspects of art librarianship: art and design schools, academic, visual resources, and museum. Neal listed 15 key contextual trends for libraries as we move into the future:

  • ubiquitous computing
  • customization and personalization
  • web2.0, social networking and collective intelligence
  • massively distributed collaboration
  • constant partial attention
  • permanent state of beta development
  • radical restructuring
  • authorship and writing revolutions
  • self-service/ATM expectations
  • openness and collaboration
  • digital preservation, integrity and sustainablity
  • repository movement and version control
  • new majority learner
  • accountability and assessment
  • entrepreneurial imperative and resource attraction

He emphasized the importance of libraries and librarians being proactive and supporting open access and institutional repository initiatives, as well as being advocates for the “information policy agenda,” including issues of intellectual freedom and orphan works. He ended with the reminder to focus on “human” goals and outcomes of our work, what our faculty and students feel are successful outcomes.

The vendor exhibit opening was next, and I used most of that time to track down the easel for my poster presentation and find my table in the exhibits area. Before the poster session I attended the Academic Libraries Division Meeting. Besides discussing what programs the division would sponsor for next years conference in Boston, we discussed how different libraries deal with book covers. Depending on the type of library and their patron needs, there were different uses for the covers: some libraries sent their covers to the studio art departments, some kept if the image wasn’t in the book or if there was important series information on the cover, some threw them away, some used them for displays, and some considered them part of the book as an object and kept all covers.

The poster sessions were during the middle session of the afternoon, and were located amongst the vendor tables. The poster that Sharon, Leslie, Ellen and I prepared about our LIB250 course was one of four presented. I counted about 30 people who stopped by to look at the poster and most chatted for about 10 minutes, asking questions about our information literacy program in general and specifics about our course. Most were impressed by our program and one of the frequently asked questions was, “so how did you get this approved in the first place?” There was also a lot of interest in the mindmaps that Leslie created!

The last session for the day was entitled, If You Sit There, Will They Come?: The Changing Reference Landscape. Four panelists offered their experiences of how reference services are changing in different art library environments. The staffing of the reference desk seemed to be a hot topic no matter what type of library was involved. Using or not using professional, paraprofessional and student staff, in what ratio, and for what tasks were questions most of the panelists touched on, and was a topic of discussion among attendees as well. A few other points that were mentioned:

  • tech savvy doesn’t mean information savvy
  • marketing, marketing, marketing
  • assume that everyone needs help (even if they don’t know what they need help with!)

Saturday night is my only night without an activity, so I took advantage of the location of the hotel and walked around downtown Indianapolis. There are lots of interesting historic buildings, restaurants, shops and sports arenas within walking distance and the weather was perfect for walking. It’s supposed to rain Sunday and Monday, so I’m glad I had the chance tonight.