Art-affiliated librarians en masse may not sound like anyone’s idea of a wild time, but HART’s Visual Resources Director Chris Strasbaugh and Assistant Curator Millie Fullmer certainly had a “Sleepless in Seattle” experience during last week’s ARLIS/NA + VRA 2016 joint conference. ARLIS/NA (Art Libraries Society of North America) and VRA (Visual Resources Association) share much in common with many of their members belonging to both organizations. Hence, it comes as no surprise that every four years an ambitious joint conference is held.
Starting off with a bang, the opening reception was hosted by the Seattle Art Museum, whose collection boasts Native American, ceramics, Australian Aboriginal, American and European art, in addition to a temporary exhibition of New York artist Kehinde Wiley. Owing to a rather crowded schedule typical of a joint conference, sessions, meetings, workshops, and tours began at the early hour of 7 a.m. and went late into the evening. Session highlights included: “Connecting the Past to the Present: Promoting Cultural Understanding through Collections and Exhibitions,” where speakers discussed controversial collections and exhibitions at their institutions; “Scope Drift: New Roles and Responsibilities in Visual Resources,” which addressed changes in VR that included new and challenging media formats, open access initiatives, teaching, repository development, data management, and specialized labs dealing with GIS, 3D printing, scanning, and design.
As a VRA board member, Chris had a major role on the planning committee of the joint conference and if that wasn’t enough, a last minute cancellation resulted in his putting together a presentation on the fly. Fortunately it was on a subject dear to our VR director’s heart: “Do it, Make it: Current Initiatives and Advice on Creating a Makerspace in Academic Libraries and Visual Resources Centers.” Not to feel out done, Millie presented on the open source, digital publishing platform Scalar as part of the panel on “Engaging Technologies: change the way visual and print resources are used and discovered through media-rich software and technologies.” It was her first time presenting and to help with nerves she included plenty of humorous visuals and jokes.
Millie also participated in the poster session, where she discussed our homegrown digital asset management system DIMLI and its exciting partnership with The Getty to launch a linked open data version of controlled vocabularies. Many attendees at the conference were quite interested in adopting DIMLI for their own digital collections, which plans to launch via GitHub in mid April.
Despite the rain, Seattle was a fabulous city to host the conference and as part of the convocation, attendees were treated to a fascinating talk by keynote speaker Sarah Bergmann, the creator of the “Pollinator Pathway.” The closing reception was held at Seattle Public Library, an extraordinary building built in 2014 and designed by Rem Koolhaas (of the Netherlands) and LMN Architects of Seattle. ~ Millie Fullmer