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Sunday, May 4 • 9:15am - 10:45am
The Politics of Digitization: Populist Projects and the Loss of Information

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Sponsored by Washington Art Library Resources Committee (WALRC)


Deborah Kempe, Chief of Collections Management & Access, Frick Art Reference Library
Billy Parrott, Managing Librarian, The Picture Collection, New York Public Library
Patricia Fidler, Editor, Art and Architecture, Yale University Press

Clayton Kirking, Chief, Art Information Resources, New York Public Library

As an engorged wave of digitization washes over the library and information landscape, some in the profession find that they have weathered this tempest before. The rush to produce microfilm and discard paper originals that senior librarians experienced the 1970s and 1980s produced an enormous amount of film and sometimes created significant voids in physical print collections. The last ten years have seen an enormous rise in the popular mandate to digitize. This, coupled with the limitations posed within the disciplines of Art History, Architectural History and Design History, i.e., images, has resulted in a generalized stall of the process, especially when compared to other fields, e.g., fiction and the sciences. This "anomaly" in the field raises questions about priorities: What gets digitized and what does not? What is digitally sexy? What gets left behind? 

This session, prompted in part by the colloquium "From Wunderkammer to eResources: Promoting Art Information Across Borders in the 21st Century", held in Berlin June 13, 14, 2013, will continue discussions begun there and open the conversation to larger representation of the art library community. The session will address three primary topics: initiatives engaged in the creation of high-quality digital publications in the arts, such as catalogues raisonnés and exhibition catalogs; priorities for electronic publishing among academic presses; and, the little discussed subject of collections that are at the virtual bottom of the digitization hit list. The underlying intents here are to take the metaphorical temperature of the level of digitization in the Arts, to begin to more generally assert pressure upon the publishing industry to address the needs of the above fields, and to more aggressively identify collections that are recognized by the Society as important art historical resources collections that are at the virtual bottom of the digitization hit list.

Sunday May 4, 2014 9:15am - 10:45am EDT
Room: McPherson Square Grand Hyatt 1000 H Street NW, Washington DC 20001

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