I just got back from a whirlwind conference day in lovely Las Cruces New Mexico. A day was all I could devote to conferencing, but I tried to make the most of it. It was also good to visit a new part of the state and see New Mexico State University and the impressive Zuhl Library.

Among programs on new technologies and the meaning of professionalism, I attended a very interesting session on the new Fine Arts Library at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. I haven’t yet had a chance to visit this building, but they have obviously done amazing things with their new space.

The presentation itself was entitled “Creativity All Around: and Within! The Fine Arts and Design Library at UNM” and featured 4 speakers who approached creativity in the Fine Arts library from different perspectives. The building project itself was discussed, along with the call to “claim your creativity” and step out of the librarian stereotype of being stuck in the dark ages (this seems to be more tangible lately with many exciting new “library as place” inspired building projects such as this and this and this).

Another presenter focused on the need to think outside the box in terms of collection development. They recently purchased a large video collection from a store going out of business down the street from the university. While this may fall under the radar of most collection development plans, it turned out to be an excellent way to fill in the gaps and make a stronger collection. It also turned out that the teaching faculty were extremely enthusiastic about the purchase (having informally used the store for years for teaching material), pointing out the need to get input from other constituents in the CD process.

The last two presentations were about instruction and reference in the Fine Arts library. The last presenter passed out handy bookmarks listing reliable online resources to use for those of us who don’t have access to comprehensive physical collections of fine art resources.

All in all, a good day…I really wish I had more time at the conference to network, however. It was great to finally meet some of the UNM art librarians, particularly Nina Stephenson. Her career path is an inspiration to me, though she commented on the dearth of art librarian jobs and the need to be in the right place at the right time. Easier said than done!

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