Art Libraries Society of North America | Mountain West Chapter
Winberta Yao Travel Award
Past Recipients

Conference Report: Elizabeth Ehrnst

As a new member of ARLIS/NA and the profession, I recognize the importance of the ARLIS/NA annual conference as a valuable opportunity to network with other professionals and colleagues, stay abreast of current trends and topics, as well as become more acquainted with the organization and field of art librarianship in general. I would like to express my gratitude to the Mountain West Chapter of ARLIS/NA for their generosity in funding the Winberta Yao Travel Award and to the Travel Award Committee for selecting me as the recipient. As the Archives and Digital Collections Librarian at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, I focus on the creation and management of digital content and its supporting metadata as well as the management of the institutional and special collection archives. Upon registering, I was thrilled to find much of the conference programming directly relating to issues that I’m addressing at my own institution and I aimed to follow a program track focused primarily on topics related to visual resources management.

The opening plenary, Convergence and Managing Progressive Change set the tone and highlighted a reoccurring theme at the conference. Though the message was challenging, I was motivated by James Neal’s emphasis on the changing library environment and the methods subject librarians can employ to not only respond to such changes but build upon core responsibilities and enhance user experiences. Some key trends discussed by Neal continued to surface throughout the conference including collaboration, computing and digital content, changes in authorship, user’s “ATM” expectations, radical restructuring, new literacies, and accountability and assessment.

It seems the evolving role of the visual resources profession was on the minds of many as there were several sessions on current trends in collaboration and new methods for expanding access to digital image collections. I benefited from sessions, such as When Worlds Collide: the Journey from Here to Where in VR, in which the presenters provided useful examples on the practicalities of dealing with uncertainty and change in visual resources collection management. The sessions on copyright, visual literacy, and evolving authority control resources were all informative. As part of the session Discovery on this Side of the Virtual Wall: Evolving Authority Control Resources and Techniques in the Digital Age, Susan Chun’s update on the Steve Project and report on the implications of social tagging for cultural institutions was particularly interesting as it relates to projects at my institution.

A recent graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington, I greatly appreciated being able to attend the Indiana Reunion and pay tribute to one of my mentors in art librarianship, Betty Jo Irvine. I also took advantage of the chance to share some of my local knowledge by volunteering at the registration and information desk, where I enjoyed meeting many new colleagues and learning a bit more about conference planning and organization. Serving as the recorder for the session Where Libraries and Archives Converge: Artists Files was also a beneficial volunteer opportunity.

The conference meetings I attended also proved interesting. The early 7:00am meeting time didn’t discourage me from attending the ArLiSnap Special Interest Group meeting where I gained insight into what other new professionals and students in the field are thinking and planning. As always, new technologies and techniques to maximize their potential were hot topics. At the Mountain West Chapter meeting, I enjoyed getting acquainted with members in person and learning about chapter projects; I look forward to meeting more members and becoming involved in chapter activities.

The ARLIS/NA annual conference was chalked full of information and meaningful experiences for me, and I left with a renewed energy and fresh insight into my role at my own institution as well as within the ARLIS/NA organization. Once again, a sincere thank you to all Mountain West Chapter members who helped make the annual conference a valuable experience and a special thanks to the award committee for granting me the opportunity to attend.

Elizabeth Ehrnst
Archives and Digital Collections Librarian
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum