Capturing art: exploring the role of the academic art librarian in the modern world

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Conlon, Áine
Issue Date
MSc Information and Library Management
Dublin Business School
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Art Libraries and Art special Collections are a place of academic wonder, a space for communication, connection and creation. The recent re-emergence of the ‘visual’ has in terms of art education and academic art study, highlighted the necessity to determine the value of art librarianship and explore the role of the Art Librarian in the modern world. In this study, eight qualitative semi-structured interviews with Art Librarians, four in Art and Design Schools and four in academic Special Collections, were conducted. The study shows that the majority of Art Librarians define their role by aligning it with their main duties including; ‘reviewing and sustaining the mission of the institution, collection development and user needs assessment.’ All of the Art Librarians were of the opinion that the nature of their role in art librarianship has evolved in the form of increased ‘outreach, learning and education, advocacy and technological advances.’ An Art qualification is not essential however a passion or interest in the study of Art is vital to enhancing the prosperity of Art in the institution. Library Science qualifications are also deemed a necessity. The study shows Art Librarians in Ireland do possess the skills required to assist artistic patrons’. The study also shows, Art Librarianship depends on the practise and creation of art in order to stay viable and visible in the canon of academic librarianship. Therefore, Art Librarians are of upmost importance in the modern world, in order to sustain the continued growth and development of the Arts. Ultimately, the value of the Art Librarian in academic circles today is of high acclaim as they continue to recreate, reinvent, discover and lead the ‘Art World’ into the future.