ARLIS/NA Mid-Atlantic

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America

Category: Meetings (page 1 of 3)

Fall Meeting Preview: The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The ARLIS/NA Mid-Atlantic Chapter will hold its fall meeting in Philadelphia on October 16, 2015. Several Philadelphia-area members will be posting profiles about their libraries and collections — watch this space and mark your calendars.

Established in 1876, the University of the Arts is one of the nation’s only universities dedicated solely to educating students in the visual, design, and performing arts. Nearly 1,900 students are enrolled in more than 40 undergraduate and graduate programs, and are taught by almost 500 full- and part-time faculty members on the University’s campus on Broad Street, Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts.

The University of the Arts evolved from two century-old institutions: the Philadelphia College of Art (PCA) and Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts (PCPA).

PMSIA purchased 320 South Broad Street in 1893 and has occupied this historic building ever since.

PMSIA purchased 320 South Broad Street in 1893.

PCA was established in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Together, they were originally known as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (PMSIA), created in response to the growing interest in art and design education stirred by the country’s Centennial Exposition. In 1949, PCA changed its name to the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, reflecting expanded programs that trained artists in a variety of areas. The school received accreditation 1959, and in 1964 it separated from the Museum to become the Philadelphia College of Art.

The University today.

The University today.

The performing arts programs of the University of the Arts date back to 1870, when three graduates of Germany’s Leipzig Conservatory opened the Philadelphia Musical Academy, one of the first European-style conservatories of music in America. The Academy became an independent college of music in 1950, one of only eight institutions in the nation to offer four-year Bachelor of Music degrees. The school changed its name to the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts (PCPA) in 1976. One year later, the Philadelphia Dance Academy (founded 1944) became part of PCPA and in 1983 the School of Theater was created, achieving the college’s ideal combination of dance, music and theater arts.

The Philadelphia Musical Academy, 1890 catalog cover.

The Philadelphia Musical Academy, 1890 catalog cover.

In 1985, PCA and PCPA merged to become the Philadelphia Colleges of the Arts. The granting of university status in 1987 brought about one more change, and the University of the Arts became the largest institution of its kind in the nation, offering programs in design, fine arts, media arts, crafts, music, dance and theater.

University Libraries

Supporting the mission of The University of the Arts, the University Libraries educates and inspires students to be effective researchers and critical users of information, and to apply those skills to their artistic, creative, and lifelong endeavors.

The Albert M. Greenfield Library, Music Library, and Visual Resources Collection comprise the University Libraries. The Albert M. Greenfield Library serves as the main library for the campus and contains materials in many formats on art and design, communication, dance, theater, film and television, multimedia, liberal arts, and other general subjects. The Greenfield Library houses the Libraries’ administrative offices, as well as the University Archives. The Archives contains materials documenting the University’s activities and history.

Albert M. Greenfield Library interior.

Albert M. Greenfield Library interior.

Left: UArts Greenfield Library entrance. Right: A student in the UArts Music Library.

Visual Resources and Special Collections (VRSC) provides image resources for teaching and study, and houses the Libraries’ Special Collections, with particular strengths in book arts and textiles, and also contains select collections of alumni work. The visual resources collections are made up of digital images and pictures of a variety of subjects with a focus on reproductions of artwork.

The Music Library, located in the Merriam Theater Building, is a specialized library serving academic programs and interests in music and musical theater. The Music Library contains listening facilities for recorded sound in addition to general reading areas and a music education resource area.

UArts Music Library social media photo.

UArts Music Library social media photo.

An institutional repository, UArts Digital Collections, is being developed to provide digital access to the University’s creative and scholarly output, and archival documents. The growing collections represent the history of the University of the Arts as well as the artistic and creative output of its students, faculty, and alumni.

The Libraries’ instructional program is supported by five librarians who also serve as liaisons to academic programs. The librarians provide in-class instruction as well as one-on-one and group sessions in the libraries. An online chat service accessible on the Libraries homepage is available for reference and other general questions.

Professor Harris Fogel's photography students with library books they selected.

Professor Harris Fogel’s photography students with library books they selected.

The University Libraries holdings include more than 129,000 books and bound periodicals, 19,000 music scores, 114,000 mounted and encapsulated pictures, 20,000 digital images, 21,000 items of recorded music in LP and CD formats, and 4,000 video materials in videocassette and DVD formats. Listening and viewing facilities, Internet and campus wireless access, and networked photocopiers for copying and scanning are available in addition to general reading facilities. The Libraries subscribe to more than 50 electronic reference tools both general and specific to the arts, including an ebook collection holding more than 120,000 multidisciplinary titles, as well as online periodical databases, encyclopedias, and streaming audio and video databases. The library maintains reciprocal use agreements with other nearby academic libraries.


News about services and collections can be found on the Libraries homepage and on the UArts Libraries Facebook page.

Digital Humanities for Art Historians Mini-Workshop Resources

The following resources were compiled by Sarah Osborne Bender to support the Digital Humanities for Art Historians Mini-Workshop held at the ARLIS/NA Mid-Atlantic Summer Meeting, July 24, 2015, in Norfolk, Virginia.

How to keep up with developments in DH:

How to engage with DH initiatives local to our chapter:

Tools for teaching:

Tools for research:


Two accessible data tools:

A few words about cleaning or “tidying” your data:
When working with structured data, having clean or “tidy” data can make a big difference. Hadley Wickham’s article Tidy Data is an excellent introduction if you’re working with data in spreadsheets, especially surveys or values. You can also drop your spreadsheet into Open Refine. This extremely powerful tool is good for resolving erroneous variations in data, and many other things. Thomas Padilla, Digital Scholarship Librarian at Michigan State created an excellent guide to getting started in Open Refine.

Where can you get data to experiment with?
You can get unstructured data, full text of articles or correspondence for example, from sites like Project Guttenberg, Hathi Trust, even JSTOR, or places like the Archives of American Art that have full texts of things like oral histories.

More institutions are opening up their collection data all the time. Just last week, MOMA released its collection data on Github, joining the Tate and the Cooper Hewitt.

Fall Meeting Recap and Photos

Photo by Sarah Osborne Bender.

Our day started with Erin Blake, curator of art and special collections, giving us an overview of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s history and telling us a bit about who the Folgers were. The collection was a result of Henry and Emily Folger’s lifelong shared passion for collecting and Shakespeare. Though the Folgers lived in New York, Washington D.C. was chosen as the home for the museum, making it a gift to the nation. The neoclassical building was dedicated in 1932. As we were to see on a quick jaunt outside, the facade features marble bas-relief Shakespearian scenes designed by John Gregory and carved in-situ.

The extensive collections, the largest Shakespeare collection in the world, include a vast array of materials. In her curatorial position, Erin oversees everything that is not a book, which means she is responsible for items such as furniture, paintings, snuff boxes, playbills, and much more. In the library, the Shakespeare Collection includes the first two complete folios of Shakespeare’s work, some with original binding.

On our walk around the building, we encountered many special features of the design and construction of the interior spaces: period furniture, decorative glass windows, the vaulted ceiling of the Great Hall, and the evocative Elizabethan theatre. Folger was a big employer of many crafts people during the construction of the library at a time when jobs were needed as the country suffered from the effects of the Great Depression.

Photo by Sarah Osborne Bender.

After our history lesson and journey around the building, we began a tour of the current exhibition, Very Like a Whale. Just as fanciful as the cloud watching from which its title is derived, the show features abstract or fantastical photographs of a unique process paired sympathetic with passages from Shakespeare and accompanied by delightful cabinets of curiosity drawing from the Folger’s collections as well as those of the photographer, Rosamond Purcell. Drawing on literature, photography, history, rare books and printing, natural history and found objects, the exhibition related to many aspects of all of our professional activities and experiences.

Photo by Sarah Osborne Bender.

A visit to the photography and digital imaging lab made many of us starry eyed. Despite being below-ground, the space was beautifully lit and designed. Julie Ainsworth, department head, discussed her experience moving from a darkroom-focused lab to creating a space to accommodate the demands of digital image reproduction and rare materials. The copy-stands were monuments of precision, able to accommodate the wide variety of printed materials in the Folger collection. The minute attention to detail was evident, as well as a love of photography and a sense of humor: the ground glass from a vintage large format camera was salvaged and served as the window in a door between the office and the studio.

Photo by Sarah Osborne Bender.

From the basement to the top floor, we paid a visit to Renate Mesmer and her colleagues in the conservation lab where one of many boxes of house deeds was being cleaned and their wax seals restored. Apparently the Folger is the leader in wax seal restoration, a specialization most of us probably didn’t even know existed. The care demonstrated in their hand-sewn felt pockets for the preserved wax seals and their in-house-developed phase box with Mylar spine were enough to make us all applaud.

The day concluded with chapter business and conference planning meetings. For many of us who had not been to the Folger in a while, or who were visiting for the first time, the day certainly made all of us appreciative of the work that takes place there and probably made more than a few of us pull a Shakespeare volume off the bookshelf when we got home.

– Write-up and photographs by Sarah Osborne Bender.

See more photos on Flickr

Fall Meeting at Folger Shakespeare Library

The Chapter’s Fall Meeting will be held this Friday, November 9, 2012 at the beautiful Folger Shakespeare Library. Learn more about what is planned for our day here:

Summer 2012 Meeting Minutes and Photos

Minutes from our 2012 Summer Meeting at the Library of Congress Packard Campus on August 3rd are now online.

Our guest photographer, Arthur Soontornsaratool (MICA), took many images of the day. See some photos below, and many more on our Flickr page!

LOC Packard Campus. Photo by Arthur Soontornsaratool

Overview of LOC's audio-visual holdings. Photo by Arthur Soontornsaratool

Viewing a Library of Congress film in the Packard's theater. Photo by Arthur Soontornsaratool.

In the cool storage vaults. Photo by Arthur Soontornsaratool.

Nitrate films at LOC Packard Campus. Photo by Arthur Soontornsaratool.

Summer Meeting

Please join us for a tour of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, followed by chapter meeting & 2014 conference planning on Friday, August 3, 2012, 10:00 am – 4:45 pm.

More information is posted here.

Call for Agenda Items

If you have news, questions, or issues you would like presented during our spring chapter meeting to be held March 31st at the national conference in Toronto, please email me and I will add you to our meeting agenda. I welcome contact from members who are unable to attend to use this opportunity have their news or issues heard by the chapter.

Sarah Osborne Bender

Chapter Meeting in Toronto

For those of you planning to attend the ARLIS/NA national conference in Toronto later this month, I wanted to let you know that our local chapter meeting will be held Saturday morning, March 31st, at 9:30, location to be announced. Meeting rooms are limited at the hotel, so we may be forced to meet in a more informal setting, to be determined upon arrival in Toronto. I will send information on the location out on the listserv as well as leave an announcement at the conference hospitality desk.

For those not attending the conference, I look forward to seeing you at our local summer meeting.

Sarah Osborne Bender

Fall Meeting Recap

Text and photos by Sarah Osborne Bender

Our day began in a meeting room at the Victor Building where the library for the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery is housed. Library director Doug Litts welcomed us with coffee and pastries. Our program began with a greeting from Martin Sullivan, director of the National Portrait Gallery. Martin graciously acknowledged the value of art librarians and archivists in the research for notable exhibitions such as Hide/Seek, Seeing Gertrude Stein, and an upcoming show on artistic representations of the war of 1812.


Our first presentation of the day was from Erin Rushing, Digital Images Librarian for the Smithsonian as well as the Social Media Co-Chair for the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. She discussed the recent effort to coordinate social media outreach over a variety of platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and the Smithsonian Libraries blog. She discussed the advantages of group participation in keeping ideas varied and fresh. Documentation of social media practices and guidelines is thorough and an internal calendar is used to keep content managed and regularly published. Erin shared examples of the limited marketing the group has done for their social media outlets, mentioning that their flyers and cards have made appearance at conferences. Giving everyone a chuckle, she let us in on what content gets the best response in social media with “pretty pictures” and anything food-related leading the way, followed, surprisingly, by the extreme niche subject of antique sewing machines. She emphasized the value of interdepartmental collaboration in the group and says that the group is looking forward to new platforms and focusing on engaging audiences rather than simply new ways to disseminate information.
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Funds available for students to attend Fall Chapter Meeting


Funds are available for students to defray transportation and meal costs for attendance at the ARLIS/DC-MD-VA Fall Chapter Meeting. If you’d like to receive this $20 disbursement, or have any questions, contact Anne Simmons at

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