Conference Experiences: Vaughan Hennen

It is hard to comprehend how much I have learned in the past months about music librarianship and art librarianship.  From March 2-5 2016, I attended the Music Librarian Association conference in Cincinnati, Ohio and from the 8th to the 12th I attended the joint ARLIS/VRA conference in Seattle, Washington.
Both conferences exposed me to many different areas of librarianship and helped me connect with both students and professionals.  The conferences reignited my passion for librarianship and gave me tons of new ideas for outreach and programming.

It was evident that the attendees of both conferences are advocates and defenders of the “common good” in libraries and society.

Music Library Association (MLA) Conference – Cincinnati, OH – March 2016

The MLA conference taught me a lot about networking and what other schools are doing to promote access to their unique and diverse collections.  The association is trying to become more “diverse” – there were great open discussions about what “diversity” means and how to create and foster a “diverse” library. The discussions in the committee meetings and round tables were enlightening and made me realize the profound amount of respect many librarians have for their counterparts.

Through the great musicianship of the performers at the conference, I found a spark to begin playing cello on a regular basis again.  It was great being in a group of people who are passionate about music scholarship, stewardship, and performance.  I never realized that MLA had so many wonderful musicians in its ranks!

My mentor for the conference was Leslie Anderson. She is a hoot, to say the least!  It was nice to see a familiar face after meeting dozens of strangers and nodding and smiling all of the time.  At times, I want to be like April Ludgate (Parks and Recreation) and run away from the onslaught of people.

I attended so many enlightening sessions!  Three of my favorites during the conference were:

  • “Teaching Performance Based Research Skills: Students Reflections and Experiences” by Kristina Shanton from Ithaca College.
  • “Soulful Sounds of Southwestern Ohio: From King Records to Dayton Funk” — Sponsor: Black Music Collections Round Table and speakers that included: Scott Brown (UCLA), David N. Lewis (WVXU Cincinnati), Brian Powers (Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)
    • The attendees of this session had the privilege of hearing Otis Williams, the lead singer of The Charms and Philip Paul, a King Record session drummer.
      • Philip Paul was just notified that he will be entering the Jazz hall of fame this year
  • “Digital Curation with OMEKA” led by Anna Kijas (Boston College).

The Digital Curation and Research Skills lectures were especially helpful, as I would like to allow more music to be accessible to patrons.

I met several new student colleagues at MLA, who I will most likely be interacting and collaborating with for the rest of my professional career.  We had a great time getting to know each other’s backgrounds, home institution, and inspiration for pursuing music librarianship.  It was also really fun to get to know the music librarians who I have seen through list-servs and periodical articles.

While at MLA, the Contemporary Art Center had an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe titled “After The Moment: Reflections on Robert Mapplethorpe”.  This amazing exhibition celebrated the 25th anniversary of the CAC’s exhibition of Mapplethorpe’s The Perfect Moment.  The show featured responses to CAC’s hosting of The Perfect Moment, both for and against — many of the responses against were very intense and showed the ripe chord that this show struck with many conservatives in the area.

Do Ho Suh was also being exhibited at CAC – his works are seen below – they had huge structures made of translucent materials!

Check out CAC’s web archive of every exhibition that has been at the Center since 1939!!

Pictures of the CAC’s exhibition of Do Ho Suh

The CAC had a great outreach and program to get patrons into the museum!  –Drink and Draw, where people can come, purchase drinks and draw!  This is a great idea for a library – maybe we could replace the alcohol with a themed drink like a V8 or smoothies.


Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) and Visual Resources Association (VRA) Joint Conference Seattle, WA – March 2016

The ARLIS/VRA was an amazing experience and made me happy that I am taking myself out of my comfort zone to learn about art and art librarianship.  There are so many facets of art librarianship and visual resources that it is sometimes overwhelming for an art novice.

ARLIS exposed me to a group of amazing individuals who are greatly invested in making materials more accessible and better utilized.

The Graphic Novel Special Interest Group (SIG), GLBTQ SIG, and Fashion, Textile, and Costumes SIG were AMAZING!  The SIG meetings allowed me to meet people who share my interests and discuss issues that we both care about.  My friend and colleague, Andrew Wang, presented at the Graphic Novel SIG and presented a poster about Zine cataloging!  He is a great role model for art librarianship students!

The GLBTQ Special Interest Group presentation allowed attendees to learn about the great programs that center around GLBTQ issues in Seattle.  The presenters included representatives from Gay City, Seattle Public Library, University of Portland Archive.

Fashion has always been fascinating to me – when I was a kid I wanted to be a fashion designer!  This was the first time that I got to discuss with scholars in the field and learn more about the textile facet of art librarianship.  Coming from a music background, all of this stuff is VERY new.

Here are some pictures of the closing reception at the Seattle Public Library.  Plus some fun pictures of Kendra Werst, Andrew Wang, and I.

Future Thinking

I believe it would be beneficial and very eye-opening if VRA and MLA did a joint conference.  Imagine the great ideas that could be fostered with musicians and artists in the same room!  Music librarians are madly trying to digitize musical scores to promote access and preserve the physical artifact.  Visual Resource librarians could help greatly with this process as they have great expertise in digitizing high-quality images.  In many cases when a score is digitized, it is not scanned at a high level and the beautiful cover is not included with the scan.

The Visual Resources librarians can greatly help to link artists to the cover art of scores or albums.


St. Louis Trip!


Let me preface this blog post by saying that I was not expecting St. Louis to be as cool as it was!  In the past, I have driven through St. Louis many times while on family road trips or going back to Bloomington when coming back from Texas, but we never stopped in to view the crazy cool city!!

The morning began like any normal morning,  I picked up everyone who was riding in my car, got some much-needed coffee, and we were off!  While on the road, we had a good vent session about our classes and program.

On the way, we stopped in Pocahontas, Illinois for a stretch and potty break.  I was sure to get some lower leg stretches in, as I am 6 foot 3 and it gets fairly cramped in my 2005 Toyota Corolla.

My first glimpse of St. Louis was the arch, peeking out above a hill.  I exclaimed to the car, “There is the Arch!  We are here!”

We had lunch at a Schlafly Brewery, ordered a table for 6, but realized that the other car in our caravan was at a different brewery location!  Rachel Schend and I shared the Huevos Rancheros (H-OOO-EVOS) – one of the people in our group did not know how to pronounce Huevos or what they are – and the crab cake eggs benedict.  The eggs benedict was AMAZING, but I was SUPER happy with the Huevos Rancheros.

While driving to Washington University in St. Louis, I noticed how gorgeous St. Louis is.  The day was completely clear, sunny, and in the upper 60s.  The area surrounding Washington University in St. Louis reminded me of the area around Rice University in Houston, TX.  The architecture of the campus buildings and the enormous houses near the school scream Houston.

The Kranzburg Art and Architecture Library was delightful!  They had a great concept of passing out a sticker with the library resources site on it, a button of an image from ARTstor or another database.




After meeting with Jennifer Akins and Rina Vecchiola, we viewed the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.  While looking at a very interesting installation of videos, my brain gave me notice that it was time for some coffee.


Post coffee, the St. Louis adventure continued at the Arboretum. This featured many acres of beautifully manicured plants, succulents, and a variety of buildings that were temperature controlled to allow for the growing of unique plants.  I believe that the most beautiful areas were the arid cactus and succulent building, the Japanese garden, and the land around the house – pictured below.

After the Arboretum, we checked into our AirBNB (my first experience) – it was great!

We had dinner at The Block — their mushroom soup and meatball pizza was SO yummy!!!  After, we went had a few drinks at the City Museum.  We climbed around and had a great time sliding down the huge slide – WEEEE!!

Kendra then led us to Steve’s Hotdogs in Tower Grove… MANNNN was this place delishhhh!

The St. Louis Art Museum was GORGEOUS!  I never expected the building to be so majestic!  It reminds me slightly of the cathedrals in Rome.

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After we left the St. Louis Art Museum, we were off to Bloomington!

We hit some traffic on the way back, which made me late to my shift at the Fine Arts Library.

All in all, it was a great trip!

-Vaughan Hennen

Conference Experiences: Andrew Wang


Not having the time to attend ARLIS/NA last year, I was determined to attend the 2016 ARLIS/NA + VRA Joint Conference in Seattle. Although I originally wanted to moderate a session on comics, I was more than happy to present my user study at the Graphic Novels Special Interest Group (of which I am currently a co-moderator) and my zine collection project at the Poster Presentations. Even with the excitement of presenting, the conference was much more than I expected.

For one, it helped put things in perspective and reaffirm my goals. Preoccupied with coursework (especially by the latter half of my program), I often lose sight of the current trends and developments in the field. The conference offered a reprieve. Sessions and workshops ranged from diversity to instruction, public programming to technical services. Some of my favorites were “Scope Drift: New Roles and Responsibilities in Visual Resources,” “E-mania! — The Present and Future of Electronic Art Publishing,” and “Connecting Social Justice to the Workplace: Issues of Diversity in Our Professional Lives.” Being able to hear from current professionals about their recent projects was refreshing since ILS courses tend to be slightly slower in adapting to the latest updates in the practicing field. I think the initiations in proactively promoting diversity, including a “Diversity Forum,” were especially encouraging as they created an open and inclusive environment.

In addition to hearing from professionals, I truly appreciated my opportunities to present to them. My Graphic Novels SIG presentation, titled “User Needs for Art Library Comic Collections,” was a success. As a first time attendee, I felt nervous as one of the new co-moderators and a presenter. My user study, however, complemented my co-moderator Tara Smith’s case study on programming very well and the attendees seemed engaged. Tara and I have discussed collaborating for a publication submission, so it was very helpful to receive constructive feedback. My poster presentation, “Developing and Promoting a New Zine Collection,” also helped me to learn how to sell my story in a condensed amount of time. I managed to meet some great professionals — some curious about starting a zine collection at their own institutions. Networking through presenting helped me feel more confident; I felt like I was exchanging ideas with peers rather than being lectured to in a class.

One of my favorite parts about ARLIS/NA + VRA 2016 was having the opportunity to forge stronger personal connections, in addition to professional connections, with people in the field. To add to my aforementioned networking, I also had the chance to travel with some great peers (fellow SALS members Kendra Werst and Vaughan Hennen), meet and have lunch with my mentor, catch up with my former supervisor/advisor/mentor Kristina Keogh, and even reconnect with the first art librarian I ever talked to about pursuing librarianship, Jill Luedke. I will absolutely be trying my hardest to attend ARLIS in New Orleans and VRA in Louisville next year.

Conference Experiences: Kendra Werst

I attended the New Member’s reception where I was able to connect with several Art Librarian and Visual Resource professionals, some of which I had only known by name. At the Welcome Reception which took place at the Seattle Art Museum, I had the opportunity to meet new and long-standing members, ask questions, and discuss topics relevant to the field and my interests. I also had the chance to reconnect with past supervisors and advisors. At first, the thought of attending this conference as a student was overwhelming but after the first day that thought never came back into my head. I felt very welcomed and accepted by the other professionals and students who were in attendance.

The ArLiSNAP + VREPS Career Development Workshop was very enlightening and provided the opportunity for me meet with other students or recent graduates. I really appreciated listening to Marie Elia, Molly Schoen, and Marsha Taichman discuss their experiences of applying for jobs and living the post-graduate life. The presentations, demonstrations, and open discussions were very encouraging and provided some basic steps to take when a building a career.

The “New Voices in the Profession” was such an amazing session. Listening to the well-developed topics presented by emerging professionals was inspirational. From that session, I thoroughly enjoyed Judith Schwartz’ presentation Visual Literacy Meets Information Literacy: Academic Libraries Address the New Challenges of the 21st Century.

Another session that I am so glad I attended was the Diversity Forum. As a person of mixed race, this topic is very important to me, especially with the lack of diversity within my Masters program. The presenters had the attendees participate in an activity that opened up a personal conversation between about the perceptions of yourself and others. Listening to people from all different backgrounds and walks of life discuss how they have faced diversity and inclusion issues within the profession and the workplace was beyond words. After that session, I walked away with tips on how to move forward with these issues. Some of my fellow peers and I have had discussions on how to incorporate what we learned into the context of library school.


This past weekend the Society of Art Librarianship Students went to Louisville, Kentucky to visit the Margret Bridwell Art Library. The Margret Bridwell Art Library contains the University of Louisville’s research collection in art, design, and architecture.

We met with Sarah Carter, the Director of Bridwell Art Library and Janice Childers, the Art Database Editor at ProQuest, for a tour and a Q&A session. After our discussion, we had the pleasure of looking at some artist books and other special items that Sarah pulled for us.

Afterward, we went to Dish on Market for lunch and walked around Downtown Louisville. We also explored NuLu, which is best known for its art galleries, specialty stores, antique shops and a growing number of local, upscale restaurants. The term “NuLu” is a portmanteau meaning “New Louisville”. As home to the greenest commercial building in Kentucky, many historic restoration projects, as well as several restaurants offering organic and locally sourced ingredients, NuLu has emerged with a culture of sustainability.

One of my favorite parts about Louisville was the older architecture. We saw a very old firehouse which had been revamped, but it looked as though they kept the original facade. We also saw the Whiskey Row Buildings that had been in a fire earlier this year. So amazing how they are saving the facades! Cheer to the Engineers!

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At the end of the night, we ended up at a stellar restaurant called RYE. It was a great way to end the day!



This past Friday, SALS members attended the Midwestern Art Cataloging Discussion Group meeting at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The MACDG is a loosely organized group of librarians who meet at least once a year. Anyone interested in art and architecture or visual resources cataloging is welcome to attend. For more information or to add you name to the group’s mailing list please contact the current chair, Karen Stafford, at

Kendra Werst, Andrew Wang and Julia Kilgore, left at 4 am to catch a 6:30 am Greyhound bus from Indianapolis to Chicago. We arrived in Chicago at 9:30 am which was perfect timing for the 10:30 am start time of the meeting.

The meeting had two guest speakers: Sarah Guernsey, Executive Director of Publishing at the Art Institute of Chicago and Gary Strawn, Authorities Librarian from Northwestern Univeristy’s Library.

Sarah presented on the Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI). Here is a Getty article about OSCI if you are unfamiliar. We highly suggest checking out the Chicago Art Institute’s Scholarly Catalogs. Each digital catalogue contains in-depth curatorial and conservation research on the museum’s collection, including high-resolution, zoomable images and other interactive elements. Gary spoke about preparing data for migration to a new ILS.  The agenda items that followed were checking out the new MACDG website, finding a volunteer to host the next meeting, reports of what was happening at attendees libraries and general questions for the group. Jasmine Burns and the Society of Art Librarianship Students volunteered to have the next meeting at IU Bloomington. When we broke for broke lunch we introduced ourselves to a few people who were also in attendance, a couple of them being students.

During our lunch break, Julia, Andrew, our new friends, and Kendra stopped by the Chicago Public Library. We were interested in the Maker Lab  but wound–up getting an impromptu tour of the YOUmedia Library, an innovative, 21st-century teen digital learning space at 11 Chicago Public Library locations.

With an emphasis on digital media and the maker movement, teens engage in projects across a variety of core content areas including graphic design, photography, video, music, 2D/3D design, STEM and hands-on making. YOUmedia connects young adults, books, media, mentors and institutions throughout Chicago in dynamic spaces designed to inspire collaboration and creativity.

The YOUmedia space was incredible!!! If I were a teen I would be there every day after school! Eric, our lovely tour guide, told us that Chance the Rapper is an alumnus of the YOUmedia program. And he often comes back to perform for the teens, Chance the Rapper loves the Chicago Public Library.

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After lunch, we met back the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries to hear from Doug LittsAutumn Mathers, and Nathaniel Parks about some highlights from the collection and the digital collection.  My favorite work that was placed on display for us was Marel Duchamp’s published Rotoreliefs, a set of 6 double sided discs meant to be spun on a turntable at 40-60 rpm. You can see a video example here.

After viewing the collection that was pulled for the MACDG, we met outside the library for a tour of Dionysis Unmasked: Ancient Sculpture and Early Prints. This was led by Jeff Nigro, the Research Associate for Ancient and Byzantine Art at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Overall, we had an amazing time and the presentations were very informative on their corresponding topics! We will be hosting the next meeting that will be at IU!