Presenters and Co-Coordinators: Samuel Duncan, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Research Library; Alexandra Reigle, Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library
Guest Speaker: Vinny Rutigliano, New York Public Library, Art & Architecture Collection
Thirty-two ARLIS/NA members attended the 2018 ARLIS/NA Artist Files meeting held Sunday, February 25, 3:00 pm-4:00 pm, The New York Public Library, Picture Collection, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Members voted and approved a revised mission statement per, “The Artist Files Special Interest Group, part of the Art Libraries Society of North America, recognizes the unique characteristics and research value of artist files and serves as a professional forum for advancing all aspects of their management, including access, acquisition, cataloging, digitization, preservation, promotion, and scholarship.” The group approved adding “access” to the mission statement.
Sam Duncan shared a few highlights covering improvements to the SIG’s website, including publishing minutes of all meetings and annual reports, creation of two thematic blogs (“Found in the Artist Files” and “Artist Files in Action“), and new persistent sidebar with leadership history and mission statement. Duncan recognized Jenny Stone, Dallas Museum of Art Library, for improving the resources page. Duncan referred to a survey completed by SIG members in September 2017 that captured information about use of the Artist Files Revealed: Online Directory resource and artist files MARC cataloging contributions to WorldCat. The survey showed that the group should invest resources into resurrecting the directory. Duncan commented on the size of the Artist Files SIG – currently 318 members.
Laura Schwartz, SIG Board Liaison, spoke to the group about the planned focus of blogs on the ARLIS/NA main website. They will be unified and have more prominence there.
Duncan provided an overview on history of development and recent progress on the Artist Files Revealed: Online Directory. Duncan is building the resource on artistfiles.arlisna.org. He recognized Marc Gratch, DFW WordPress developer, for his major contributions. Duncan analyzed field structure of old directory and developed new data field structure. He decided not to migrate old data, so when new directory is operational, submitters will re-enter their data. Duncan showed a slide of data fields lost and gained, fields that were incorporated into other fields, and improved layout to facilitate copying and pasting. Faceting searching coming soon. Duncan showed an example entry (Amon Carter) and emphasized needing feedback from group on new field set. Duncan also showed example of new input screen. Controlled vocabularies in directory are encouraged, but the group should discuss it more. Currently, input form is available to public and once submitted, goes intoa review queue. Traci Timmons asked about adding a scope note (general description). Another member mentioned need for a captcha filter to help with spam.
Co-Coordinators presented on revised MARC standard for cataloging artist files. The Amon Carter will be starting a project to move its list of artist files into MARC using MARCEdit, then uploading MARC files to WorldCat. Duncan recognized the variety of cataloging approaches in WorldCat and is looking at ways to improve normalizing/standardizing data and ways to lower barriers for using MARC. Group is working on an updated standard that focuses in RDA. Duncan recognized Nathan Putnam at OCLC who is very interested in helping us and sensitizing the group to OCLC issues. Co-Coordinators presented Evernote document where discussion about new standard is being captured. Group is close to ratifying new standard, pending a few problem areas like physical description. Duncan encouraged input from the group. Jon Evans brought up issue of a single-record approach to cataloging artist files in WorldCat. Abby Bridge discussed challenges of single record approach (that it doesn’t make sense considering the character of these collections) but likes the idea of OCLC being able to improve the display of them (though she doubts OCLC’s ability to create a more unifying display yet show the uniqueness of these collections). She discussed differences in library versus archival approaches to describing these collections, e.g. describing the “container” rather than the “contents” issue. Duncan discussed single record approach as not being technically challenging and that we’ll probably stick with individual records. Duncan emphasized the advantage of getting records normalized to help OCLC work on improving the display of records to the public. [See also MARC cataloging 2017 survey results graphic at the bottom of this post which shows what tools are being used to provide access to artist files collections, including MARC/WorldCat (about 32%)].
Duncan opened up discussion on projects for 2018. The SIG will continue to work on MARC and will publish the new artist files directory. Duncan discussed pros and cons of email discussion list—another option is a forum platform within WordPress. Duncan referenced the digital survey that Francine Snyder spearheaded in 2010 and whether group needed to do an updated survey. Duncan discussed possibility Evernote as a model platform for collaborate digital collections. Group could use a test account to test viability. Duncan also mentioned a digital production/management layer on top of WorldCat to help with digital collaborative projects.
Jane Devine Mejia brought up the how important members’ artist files collection can be for contributing to the Wikipedia “Art + Feminism” edit-a-thons coming up in March. It’s an opportunity to push recognition of the importance of these files, especially on social media platforms.
Duncan introduced Vinny Rutigliano, who presented on the artist files collections at the NYPL.
Results from 2017 MARC Survey