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Fellow Reflection: Gayle Schechter

This  reflection on the 2019 Visual Resources Association conference was written by Gayle Schechter (@akaGladys), who attended with support from a DLF GLAM Cross-Pollinator Registration Award. Gayle is the Digital Exhibitions Coordinator for the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library. Her primary responsibilities include building and maintaining the GLAM Center’s digital portal (, creating thematic digital exhibits, and leading faculty and student workshops which facilitate the Center’s mission to provide training in object-based learning while increasing the accessibility and discoverability of AUC resources. Gayle currently serves on the Local Arrangements committee for Society of Georgia Archivists and as Vice Chair of SAA’s Students and New Archives Professionals section. She holds an M.S. in Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archives Management from Simmons College and a B.S. in Information Systems & American History from SUNY Empire State College. As an early career library/archives professional constantly on the hunt for professional development opportunities, I was thrilled to be awarded DLF’s GLAM Cross-Pollinator Registration Award to attend the annual Visual Resources Association conference this year in Los Angeles. Prior to attending, my knowledge of who VRA are and what they do was admittedly limited. Coming from an archives background, I’d heard of the VRA Core description standard, but I’ve primarily been involved with professional archives organizations like SAA and Society of Georgia Archivists. Given that my current position as Digital Exhibitions Coordinator at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library requires me to work with a variety of digitized images of artwork and other cultural heritage materials, attending VRA 2019 sounded like an excellent opportunity to broaden my knowledge of visual resource management as well as connect with other professionals engaged in similar work. I’m pleased to report that my experience at VRA 2019 exceeded my expectations. Given the geography of VRA membership (they even have an international chapter), I expected a large and overwhelming crowd; however, I was pleasantly surprised by the intimate nature of the conference. Smaller panels and special interest group sessions allowed for in-depth conversations about projects and best practices. I learned a lot about different tools used in the burgeoning area of GIS mapping in the digital humanities during the session Mapping New Vistas: Employing Emerging Technologies Into Your Visual Resource Services. The presentation, Ed Ruscha’s Streets of LA: A lesson in digitizing, organizing and presenting visual information at the Getty, from Getty Research Institute staff on their large-scale digitization of Ruscha’s photography provided an enlightening look at the challenges and unexpected benefits of digitization as well as the technologies available to assist with projects of this magnitude. In terms of direct application to the work I do at AUC’s Woodruff Library, I’m eager to try out the approaches spoken about during the Digital Scholarship and Digital Humanities special interest group meeting and the session, Teaching Visual Literacy as an Evolving Discipline. Along with the excellent panels and lightning talks I was able to attend, I met many wonderful visual resources professionals and students while at VRA 2019. I would like to thank DLF with affording me the opportunity to branch out and attend this conference. It was a welcoming and enlightening experience, and I look forward to becoming a member of VRA and keeping up with what VRA does in the years to come!

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HBCU Library Alliance and Digital Library Federation launch “Authenticity Project” Fellowship Program

oday, in partnership, the HBCU Library Alliance (HBCU LA) and Digital Library Federation (DLF) launched a three-year “Authenticity Project.” This fellowship program, generously supported by an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant, will provide mentoring, learning, and leadership opportunities for 45 early- to mid-career librarians from historically black colleges and universities, as well as meaningful frameworks for conversation and collaboration among dozens of additional participants from both organizations from 2019-2021. The Authenticity Project builds on a previous collaboration, in which the two organizations co-hosted an IMLS-funded 2017 DLF Forum pre-conference for HBCU and liberal arts college participants, alongside a conference travel fellowship program for 24 DLF HBCU Fellows. Experiences from the pre-conference and fellowship program are outlined in a report entitled “Common Mission, Common Ground.” In each year of the Authenticity Project, fifteen Fellows will be matched with two experienced library professionals: an established mentor from an HBCU LA library or with a strong background in HBCUs, and a “conversation partner” working in an area of the Fellow’s interest, ideally within a DLF member institution. Fellows will receive full travel, lodging, and registration expenses to the annual DLF Forum and Learn@DLF workshops; access to online discussion spaces and in-person networking opportunities; and opportunities to apply for microgrant funding to undertake inter-institutional projects of strategic importance across institutions and communities. They will also participate in quarterly facilitated, online networking and discussion sessions. “The Authenticity project will provide wonderful leadership opportunities for our members,” HBCU Library Alliance executive director Sandra Phoenix remarked. “We are excited for a second opportunity to partner with the Digital Library Federation.” DLF’s director, Bethany Nowviskie, agreed, “We’re grateful to IMLS for this chance to bring the DLF community into deeper and more authentic engagement with our partners at the HBCU Library Alliance, and very excited to meet the emerging leaders who will benefit from the program as Fellows!” The program is currently seeking volunteers to act as Authenticity Project mentors and conversation partners in its inaugural year. Volunteers who are matched with a Fellow will support their learning through quarterly discussions on provided topics, receive access to a supportive community of peers, and will be granted small annual stipends in acknowledgment of their time and commitment to the program. Mentors working in HBCU LA libraries will receive an additional travel stipend to enable free DLF Forum registration or to offset travel costs associated with meeting with fellows elsewhere. “How fitting to begin with the mentoring component,” Phoenix reflected, “positioning the program for teaching, learning, and sharing skills that will strengthen leadership development.” The application for the first cohort of fifteen Authenticity Project Fellows will open on October 22nd. Both application processes will close on November 16th, and 2019 calendar-year program selections will be announced in December 2018. DLF is an international network of member institutions and a robust community of practice, advancing research, learning, social justice, and the public good through the creative design and wise application of digital library technologies. It is a program of CLIR, the Council on Library and Information Resources — an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. The HBCU Library Alliance is a consortium that supports the collaboration of information professionals dedicated to providing an array of resources to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and their constituents. As the voice of advocacy for member institutions, the HBCU Library Alliance is uniquely designed to transform and strengthen its membership by developing library leaders, helping to curate, preserve and disseminate relevant digital collections, and engaging in strategic planning for the future.   This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, through grant # RE‐70‐18‐0121. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. They advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Their vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit

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2018 GLAM Cross-Pollinator Registration Awards

Museum and library staff face similar challenges in the digital landscape and yet have too few opportunities to come together.   For a third year, the Digital Library Federation and its partner organizations will support six registration awards meant to encourage collaboration and conversation about these challenges among our museum and digital library communities. Three awards were offered to partner-affiliated GLAM professionals to attend the 2018 DLF Forum in Las Vegas, and in exchange, three DLF-affiliated practitioners will receive complimentary registration at the upcoming conferences of the following partnering organizations: the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), the Museum Computer Network (MCN), and the Visual Resources Association (VRA). About the GLAM Cross-Pollinator Registration Awards Continuing a program initially supported generous Kress grants in 2015-2017 and with the continuing partnership of the AIC, MCN, and VRA, the Cross-Pollinator program endeavors to build bridges among our communities, bringing new voices and perspectives to our Forum–particularly those from the art museum community–and continuing our efforts at “cross-pollination” by sending accomplished DLF practitioners to valuable conferences they might not otherwise visit. An award covers the cost of registration at one partner conference, and can be applied retroactively for a full refund if payment has already been submitted. Conference dates are as follows: Museum Computer Network: November 13-16 2018, Denver, CO Visual Resources Association: March 26-29 2019, Los Angeles, CA The American Institute for Conservation: May 13-17 2019, Uncasville CT Awardees’ only obligations to DLF are to fully engage in the conference they attend and write a brief reflection on their experience for the DLF blog. Eligibility To be eligible for a GLAM Cross-Pollinator Award, an applicant must be affiliated with a DLF member organization. Successful candidates will demonstrate a commitment to advancing research, learning, social justice, and/or the common good through the creation and/or use of digital library and museum technologies. Application Applicants must supply contact information, a resume or C.V., and a personal statement (500 words or less) about how attending the conference of your choice will expand your professional horizons, and what you can contribute in the role of ‘cross-pollinator’. Deadlines Applications for each award will close at 5:00 p.m. pacific time on each of the following dates: To attend MCN: 14 September 2018 To attend VRA: 14 December 2018 To attend AIC: 8 March 2019 Applicants will be notified of their status within two weeks of the closing date. —————————————————————————————– Award winners for all opportunities will be selected by CLIR/DLF staff in consultation with partner organizations. You may apply for multiple awards, but preference will be given to applicants who have not yet been a GLAM Cross-Pollinator Fellow.

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Fellow Reflection: Coral Salomón

Coral Salomón is currently the National Digital Stewardship Resident in Art Information at the University of Pennsylvania, and attended the annual conference of the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) with support from a Kress Cross-Pollinator Fellowship. Learn more about Coral, or read on for her reflection on the conference.       Materials Matter?: Searching for ethical and practical conservation strategies in the age of reproduction and digitality Thanks to the generous support of the Digital Library Federation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works (AIC), I had the opportunity to travel and present at AIC’s 46th Annual Meeting, Material Matters 2018, in Houston, Texas.   Although I am an archivist (currently I am the National Digital Stewardship Resident in Art Information at the University of Pennsylvania), working with new media artworks has led me to confront issues that also beguile conservators: How do we acquire, provide access, classify, document, and preserve these works? Material Matters 2018 was my first experience at a conference dedicated solely to conservation. I spent most of the time learning from the excellent speakers in the Electronic Media Group, the section where I also presented. However, one of the joys of AIC is that I had the opportunity to listen to presentations on a wide array of themes and materials, whose lessons can be applied to our line of work. During the Whitney Replication Committee: Transparency in the Age of Reproduction, conservators Margo Delidow and Clara Rojas Sebesta expounded on the challenges that led to the committee’s creation. They discussed why we feel comfortable with certain replications and not others, the need to seek an ethical replication practice, and the importance of clarity in language, especially when transmitting information of museum interventions to patrons. Historically, artists directly transmitted their handwork into a singular authentic work. However, as art objects become reproducible, it has become necessary to rethink how we frame our approaches to preservation and conservation in a way that respects the work’s physical and conceptual identities. The Whitney Replication Committee’s creation came as a consequence of the major interventions performed on Richard Sera’s Prop. Throughout the life of the work conservators glued new Velcro strips, changed its aluminum foil, and performed other extreme conservation measures to ensure the work’s survival. These interventions forced the conservators to ask: When does the work stop being the work? At what point do conservation efforts cross the line? The speakers acknowledged that transformation has always been a part of a museum objects’ lifecycle. However, museum interventions have become so pervasive that the profession needs to create standards, guidelines, and document how they impact the works. Some of the recommendations issued by the Replication Committee are already best practices for the stewardship of time-based media art, such as interviewing artists at the time of acquisition. The artist questionnaire anticipates museum interventions and asks the artists to predetermine when these would have to take place. One of the ideas that I found very compelling is that instead of seeing interventions as subtracting from the authenticity of the work, the Replication Committee sees it as an integral component that needs to be clearly articulated, especially to the public. Clear and standardized language is not only for internal documentation, but to better educate the public about the museum’s hand in the artworks they are viewing. They embrace transparency as a technique to mediate some of the tensions posed by contemporary art. C.Rojas-Sebesta & M.Delidow on why we feel comfortable with certain replications vs others, seeking an ethical replication practice & clarity in lang esp. when transmitting info of museum interventions to patrons. Can’t wait to read the @whitneymuseum Replication Committee paper! — C.Sal (@CSalinPhilly) June 1, 2018 Another thought that struck me during the conference is how valuable and crucial it is to use a code of ethics to guide the decision-making process, regardless of the artworks’ medium. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s Christopher Mazza and Sarah Scaturro provided a great case study on this topic. When struck with a challenge between conservation principles and Kawakubo’s curatorial choices during her career encompassing exhibition, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, the team relied on AIC’s Code of Ethics to navigate their actions. What to do when artist’s curatorial choices/vision run counter to conservation principles? Code of ethics helped @metmuseum #costumeinstitute conservation dept. navigate initial decision making process. #AICmtg18 — C.Sal (@CSalinPhilly) June 1, 2018 As technology blurs and subverts traditional notions of authenticity, ownership, spaces, physicality, perceptions of stewardship, and the role of patrons and knowledge institutions, adhering to a standardized Code of Ethics for replicable mediums and new media art becomes increasingly paramount. As time passes, we might stumble upon challenges that careful documentation and detailed artist interviews might not anticipate. As articulated by Delidow, science might evolve to the point where we could clone an artwork to the molecular level. But, should we? This isn’t going to end well. I left AIC thinking about what it means to reconcile the tensions that arise between replication, entropy, and fulfilling our professional duty of safeguarding the cultural patrimony for future generations. While these are not easy questions with simple answers, I am animated by the conversations I encountered in Houston and believe there is hope in this collaborative search for strategies. Until next year.

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Fellow Reflection: Ann Burns

  Ann Burns is a Metadata Librarian at the University of Virginia Library who attended the annual conference of the Visual Resources Association (VRA) as a Kress+DLF GLAM Cross-Pollinator Fellow. Learn more about Ann, or read her reflection on the conference below.   The Visual Resources Association (VRA) Conference, which I attended in Philadelphia in late March, is not long; three days pretty much does the trick. VRA bills itself as “the professional organization supporting those who store, preserve, share, and interpret visual content.” The members are primarily managers of visual content collections for museums, archives, libraries, academic departments or commercial environments.  All are aware that “visual content collections” has become a much bigger tent over the past 25 years or so. Based on the sessions offered, visual content management encompasses a wide swath of types and interests. Sessions ran the gamut from asset management of audio-visual files through managing intellectual property rights to applying embedded metadata to digital files and working with virtual reality. The Association announced 60+ new members, and I was struck by the number of them in attendance, eager to expand their technical and managerial knowledge. Some of the issues addressed included the role and responsibilities of a solo visual collection curator and ways to use digital images and their metadata to facilitate access to actual objects in cultural collections. VRA’s theme this year was “Workshop of the World,” and their approach emphasized in-depth explanations of popular tools and programs in digital management. I found the session IIIF in Practice – Use Cases for Implementing and Using IIIF APIs, organized by Jeff Mixter of OCLC, particularly helpful. There are a number of places where IIIF is used to present images, but exactly how it works and what programs can be used to implement the APIs locally are not always clear. Mixter’s explanation of how IIIF works was tremendously informative, but oddly, Robb Detlefs’ excursion into his attempt to write IIIF manifests on his own illustrated as nothing else could why it’s a better idea to choose a service or an open source tool for this task instead! Another session that interested me involved an introduction to audio-visual formats, including a case study for making in-house instructional videos, and an in-depth explanation of the different data layers in GIS files; the last section demonstrated the intricacies of GIS data for those who like to be forewarned as to what they are getting into. I attended one workshop: Collaborative Digital Asset Management: Practical Approaches and Useful Tools. Samantha Norling and Tascha Horowitz from Newfields (formerly the Indianapolis Museum of Art) presented their Framework for Collaborative Digital Asset Management within Cultural Heritage Organizations. The workshop made it clear that it is possible to flounder in this task simply because of the number of questions, the number of answers per question, and the number of stakeholders and their orientation in such a project. From the structure and the topics discussed, it was obvious that the presenters had invested much time in understanding different viewpoints and expectations in their effort to implement a Digital Asset Management System at their institution. When you read through their list of activities and considerations, it seems wonderful that DAMS are ever implemented at all, simply because each interested party perceives their interest as paramount. The session Engaging New Technologies featured a process for digitizing deteriorating negatives at the Library of Congress; a demonstration of the use of drones for GIS projects; and an explanation of Blockchain, which I found absolutely fascinating. Several sessions discussed the fair use of images, video and music; the one I attended reminded me of a similar talk given at my library, but also reminded me that listener-friendly presentations on this important topic may not be generally available, even in academic settings. There were a number of social opportunities provided, to discuss what we had all been exposed to with our colleagues, or to discuss our individual interests. The Association maintains an active mentoring program, to guide new attendees to resources and help them make useful colleague connections. VRA attendees were also treated to a Raffle to raise money for conference travel with a personal appearance by Benjamin Franklin, impersonated by a curator who is also an actor. The VRA Conference is not an academic conference. Its strength is in its ability to introduce technologies, sharpen skills, and provide opportunities for networking, collaboration and support among members of a particular specialty: the management of visual content for cultural heritage research, teaching and exhibition.

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Fellow Reflection: Alexis Logsdon

  Alexis Logsdon (@librarianrover) is a research and instruction librarian at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN who attended the annual meeting of the  Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) as a Kress+DLF GLAM Cross-Pollinator Fellow. Learn more about Alexis, or read her reflection on the conference below.   This February I had the honor of attending the ARLIS/NA conference in New York City as the DLF + Kress/GLAM cross pollinator. While I work with art history students, I am not an art librarian, so I found myself drawn to sessions that were focused on the area that intersected most with my DLF-related interests. As it happens, there were three sessions on topics relevant to digital publishing. In one session, I learned about the development of e-journals in art history. One panelist discussed retroactively making a born-digital journal more sustainable and discoverable. Another panelist explanded on this concern: how are the journals we are supporting on various platforms—repositories, WordPress sites, or elsewhere—searchable in our ILS or on the web? How are readers coming to these materials and is there more we can do to guide this? A second panel focused on that old digital publishing mainstay: the institutional repository. Like many libraries, art librarians reported challenges in getting buy-in from faculty and students around contributing to their repositories. But the resistance to depositing appears to take a very specific flavor for artists and art students: intellectual property. Many artists are resistant to making their work widely available via a repository for fear of losing control of their creative output. Panelists offered some strategies they have employed to build trust and buy-in. A third panel took up the question of digital publishing from the perspective of less traditional digital projects: an interactive fashion history timeline; a critical edition of a digitized French fashion magazine from the turn of the 19th century; a multi-platform urban architectural history project. A wide array of tools were used to develop, host, and preserve these projects. I was most curious about a project out of Columbia’s lab for experimental methods in the humanities. Columbia’s (and DLF’s) Alex Gil discussed “minimal computing” and “publication as preservation,” which I won’t pretend I fully understand, but did find very intriguing. Plus—bonus! —cool images of fashions of bygone eras! It was great to learn what challenges art and academic librarianship share, as well as encounter some novel approaches and projects that are particular to art libraries. I am so grateful to DLF and Kress for providing this opportunity!    

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