Conference Reflections

I mentioned a few posts back that Barbara and I would each attend conferences in early March that help us connect Dartmouth and the Dartmouth Academic Commons to a wider community. We both just returned from said conferences, saturated with new and cutting-edge information and inspired by engaging ideas, so it seems like to a good time to summarize and share some of that here. This is part one of two. I will reflect on my experience at the ARLIS/NA + VRA joint conference, and Barbara will followup later on the SPARC/COAPI meeting.

ARLIS/NA (Art Libraries Society of North America) and VRA (Visual Resources Association) met jointly in Seattle from March 8-12th, 2016. This 3rd Annual Joint ARLIS/NA +VRA conference was an opportunity for professionals in complementary and often overlapping fields to gather in one place to share perspectives on topics such as digital humanities, visual literacy, geospatial and visualization projects, image rights and reproductions, new technologies, museum education, environmental design, makerspaces, e-book publishing, materials education and research, diversity within our professions, RDF and LOD, crowdsourcing, cataloging, archives, visualization, open access, and more.

I was very happy to see that conference programming for both organizations is shifting beyond discussions of how to collect and manage our collections towards more discussions that include how to make materials open and improve accessibility for our users. There were a few sessions this year focused on open access issues, and one in particular that addressed museum images and the use of museum images in scholarly publications that may later be shared within an open repository. This is a conversation in which many museums have been reluctant to engage because use of museum images are typically regulated through fees and rights and reproductions agreements that limit image use to print publications. But, there seems to be a shift in perspective in this arena as I heard from museum professionals who are expressing willingness to engage in discussions with scholars about open access repositories and consider agreements that allow scholars to post those article in their institutional repository under an open access policy, like the one at Dartmouth. This is relatively new territory for museum professionals, so definitive stances have not been taken, but the conversation has begun, which is always a step toward change.

I have to mention this year’s convocation speaker, Sarah Bergmann. Bergmann is a design thinker and founder of the Pollinator Pathway. She shared thought-provoking perspectives on how the plight of the honey bee inspired her to consider symbiotic relationships and the importance of building and maintaining pathways to support these relationships. While Sarah’s consideration of bees inspired her to build pathways that connect city dwellers to existing green spaces, her work inspired me to think about the benefits that will be realized when we build connections across disciplines, institutions, and the globe to provide open access to the results of research. Sarah’s talk was a compelling way to end my conference journey and return to Dartmouth inspired to continue building on the network of information that DAC will provide scholars. [Open repository work at Dartmouth is transitioning. For the most current information about the status of open repository development for the Dartmouth faculty scholarship, please see:]

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