The Handbook of Art and Design Librarianship

The Handbook of Art and Design Librarianship
Amanda Gluibizzi and Paul Glassman (Ed.), Facet Publishing, 2010.

Review by Tina Chan

As academic librarianship is a multifaceted profession with many disciplines, it is sometimes difficult to decide which academic discipline or functional area to focus on.  Amanda Gluibizzi and Paul Glassman, editors of The Handbook of Art and Design Librarianship, seek to provide insight from art and design librarians about the profession.  Contributors include a diverse range of job titles and institutions, including the cataloger at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, head of user services at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, and director of library services at Rhode Island School of Design.  If you are considering a career in art and design librarianship, reading this book will help you decide if this career path is right for you.

The book is organized into four parts.  Part I discusses the roles and responsibilities of art and design librarians, which include governance and administration, evolving roles of art librarians, being a liaison for the visual arts, and accreditation and visual arts libraries.  This section is important as it contains practical information on understanding administrative roles.  This encompasses an awareness of campus culture, staffing needs, information seeking needs of patrons, and the ability to adapt and manage change.

With more collections becoming digital, it is essential to consider collection management issues that may arise.  This is the subject of Part II – materials and collection management.  This section investigates currency and relevancy for art and design libraries, accessible collections for visual learners, challenges of cataloging for art and design school libraries, and the impact of scholarly communication on art librarianship.  This section is significant as it discusses the challenges and opportunities art and design libraries encounter with print and digital collections.

Part III is dedicated to teaching and learning as library instruction plays a vital role for academic librarians.  The topics explored in this section include visual literacy, techniques to embed information literacy in a studio art class, integrating image databases in information literacy, recognizing and incorporating cultural differences in art library instruction, teaching art library instruction to students with multiple literacies (including visual, tactile, and kinesthetic learners), and understanding the research and information seeking behaviors of art history students.  This section is noteworthy as teaching library instruction to art and design students is unique in that these students have distinct learning styles.

It is critical to evaluate physical library space and its impact on teaching and learning.  These issues are addressed in Part IV – learning spaces and sustainability.  Topics include guidance on creating library instruction classrooms, outreach methods to the art community, physical space challenges of a small art library, art librarians as multidisciplinarians, exploring creative space, and making the 21st century art library.

The book is neatly organized.  The list of contributors is at the beginning of the book.  The list contains the contributor’s name, job title, and library affiliation.  Essays have a healthy bibliography for further exploration.  The appendix lists library profiles, which are organized into the three categories of academic branch libraries, art and design school libraries, and main library collections supporting art and design programs.  Each library profile includes a website address, description, and information about staffing, facilities and access, and collections.

While numerous books about librarianship exist, few focus solely on art and design librarianship.  This book fills the much needed gap.  The Handbook of Art and Design Librarianship is a valuable resource for those considering a career in art and design librarianship and for art and design librarians seeking guidance and success in the profession.

Reviewed by Tina Chan, reference and instruction librarian at State University of New York at Oswego.