Last month the Smithsonian Libraries hosted the fall meeting of the Washington DC, Maryland & Virginia Chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA). Close to 30 art and architecture librarians from the region came for a day of learning about some of the initiatives spearheaded by the libraries balanced with an exhibition and library tour at the Freer/Sackler.
Erin Rushing, the Digital Images Librarian and Social Media Co-Chair for SIL gave a presentation about the Libraries’ social media initiatives. Recently a working group was organized in order to coordinate SIL’s outreach through social media. Social media gives SIL the opportunity to connect directly with SIL’s users, fans, and friends, as well as to connect with each other while allowing staff and users to easily and quickly share information, generate ideas, and participate in discussions. With initial focus on the blog, Facebook, and Twitter, strategies and goals for each platform are being developed adapting what works best. Since this group effort is still new and evaluation is still being developed, the group is just beginning to discover what works best and what our users like and respond to. Ultimately the Libraries hopes to promote engagement and to increase the tools that we can serve its users.
Doug Litts, the Branch Librarian for the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library talked about the various digital projects that the Smithsonian Libraries is pursuing with emphasis on the art resources that are made available to researchers worldwide, such as the Galaxy of Images, the Art and Artists Files database, the Edward F. Caldwell Collection, and the Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web. He also discussed the Library’s digitization of history, art, and culture material and uploading to the Internet Archive. Doug also discussed other initiatives that SIL is investigating, such as discovery services which would provide greater access to the wide range of resources the Libraries have available online; and the investigation of the purchase of ebooks.
In the afternoon, the group was met by Kathryn Phillips and Yue Shu, two librarians from the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Library. Kathryn gave a tour and history of the library with emphasis on Freer’s dedication to and continuous support of libraries and books. Shu provided a look at a variety of Chinese books books related to the Qing dynasty in China that reflected a tour by the museum archivist of the exhibition Power|Play: China's Empress Dowager. Kathryn and Shu also talked about their interests and how they came to work in the library.
In all the day provided the opportunity to meet with colleagues, share ideas and programs, and to think about the future in art librarianship.