A blog for materials collections in art, architecture, and design environments. Sponsored by the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA).

Materials Special Interest Group Meeting at ARLIS/NA Annual Conference

Materials Special Interest Group
Saturday, March 21, 2015 | 1:30–2:30pm
Art Libraries Society of North America 43rd Annual Conference
Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Fort Worth, TX

Moderator: Mark Pompelia, Rhode Island School of Design
Recorder: Elizabeth Schaub, University of Texas at Austin


Mark Pompelia (RISD). They have a collection that is approximately five years old.

Elizabeth Schaub (UT Austin). Elizabeth read a statement from Jen Wong, Director of the Materials Lab in the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin.

Tony White (Maryland Institute College of Art). They will be developing a materials library; they are still developing an approach. They might be using ContentDM.

Stacy Brinkman (Miami University in Ohio). They don’t have a materials collection.

Billy Kwan (NYSID Library Director). They have two materials “collections.” The material is not cataloged; they receive it from vendors in the city. They have close relationships with a number of firms from which they receive materials. They have “working chaos.” He is new to this area so he would like to learn more about what resources/databases are available.

Lauren McDonald (California College of Arts). The collection started in the 90s to serve architecture and interiors. It has expanded into textiles and fashion so they have expanded into other areas. They re-cataloged and weeded the collection last year (still working on this). They now circulate the materials and they can be taken to studios. They are getting ceramic and sculpture students from the Oakland campus.

Kasia Leosis (Auburn University). Materials Lab is very young (1.5 years). They have about 400 samples. Using the CSI format they are creating catalog records that are in their OPAC. They are using DSpace for the digital collections.

Gayle Storr (Columbus School of Architecture and Design). It’s a small collection with items from Material ConneXion and it has been supplemented from vendors. They produce cards so that items look like they are from the same collection. They had an open house in the fall (the Materials Library is located in the back of the VRC). It’s serving as an inspirational tool at this point.

Mark discussed Maya Gervits’ introduction to the New Jersey Institute’s collection of 22K-samples collections at AASL.

Mark reported out on the IMLS grant. IMLS gave RISD an additional year to spend the money on a shared RISD/Harvard shared database. When Mark returns from conferences, he will be meeting with Harvard staff to determine how they can move the project forward. All grant deliverables were turned in to IMLS in December 2014. Those deliverables will be added to the RISD digital commons. The white paper is intended to address concerns that an individual might have who was interested in establishing a collection. Harvard has a materials collection and database but wants to move to an environment not restricted behind a Harvard firewall. Cloud-based, open source system that supports cataloging and is a shared system so that you can see where items are. The thought was that a shared system would help support a learning environment. They have been involved in writing grants to fund development of a front-end for the aforementioned cataloging back-end. The inclusion of a means to capture experiential information about a material is going to be included on the user-side.

Mark indicated that the Materials SIG blog is something he wants to keep going. There are 252 subscribers currently. He has developed a list of vendors who are interested in donating materials. He has also started creating profiles. He encouraged others to contribute to the blog as authors. He also noted that he would be happy to hand over the moderator role of this SIG to someone else if they are interested but was reaffirmed as moderator for another year via acclamation.

Mark mentioned that he would like to think about programming for the upcoming ARLIS/NA|VRA joint conference in Seattle. He and Alix Reiskind at Harvard have been in touch about programming

Billy noted that he receives requests from individuals at institutions who are interested in establishing a materials collection. He made an inquiry about an assessment of everyone’s collection.

Elizabeth suggested a matrix showing current material collections at a glance.

Tony suggested that a Lighting Round might be a great way to present information in Seattle.

Mark thinks that that Lighting Round makes a lot of sense.

Mark is happy to draft a proposal for the 2016 conference.

Mark mentioned that if anyone wants author privileges on the blog he is happy to give them those permissions.

Mark will propose a set of categories for the matrix and make that information available on a Google Doc so we can easily collaborate.

(Lauren McDonald ) The CCA collection is hanging. Librarians were not involved initially; the idea was that students would find things through serendipity. Now the collection is organized by source type (metals, polymers, etc.). They are at capacity space-wise. There was a question about whether other collections are dealing with questions from students asking about both objects (typewriter) and historic materials (like iron used in a railroad).

Elizabeth mentioned that virtual reality could be a way to address these questions.

Billy is aware of some commercial software called Designer Pages. It is an online resource that has data from material/product vendors. They work with vendors who provide them with data. It is a subscription service. It is a source for projects. There is another app called To the Trade that also helps designers to pull together information about a project.

Lauren has seen a decrease in material libraries in firms while there is an increase in collections based in academic institutions.

Billy noted that he went to the NY office of Gensler and they told him that they are trying to re-engineer the library/materials library.

Lauren is now getting requests from local firms to visit their library.

Elizabeth mentioned that it might be worth reaching out to Designer Pages to find out about their metadata schemas.

Mark gets approached by Source for Style (fashion focused).

Questions about how we become more involved with industry may be the next set of questions that our collections might need to work through.

Billy noted that some of the online products are nascent and are ripe for development/maturation. This could be an opportunity to determine how these entities interface with academic material libraries. How does the academic research complement the commercial approach?

Kasia Leousis: “Creating an Interdisciplinary Materials Lab in the Design Library”

ArtDoc34.1Materials collection colleague Kasia Leousis is the author of the article titled, “Creating an Interdisciplinary Materials Lab in the Design Library,” published in the latest issue of Art Documentation. Kasia is Architecture and Art Librarian in the Library of Architecture, Design and Construction at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama; e-mail:

The electronic version of Art Documentation Spring 2015 (v. 34, no.1) is available to JSTOR subscribers and to ARLIS/NA members through the members-only section of the ARLIS/NA website.  The link for the e-book edition is also available in this section.  Print copies have been mailed.

To access the electronic version, click on the MEMBER LOG-IN link at the top of the ARLIS/NA website, log in, then click on the “Art Documentation Online: Click to Access JSTOR” link (stable URL: Each new issue of the journal is available for download on any e-reader device via the JSTOR portal. After you are logged in, click on the button “Click to Access EPubs” where you will be redirected to the Press e-Book page.



MATSIG to Meet at 2015 ARLIS/NA Annual Conference

Please mark your SCHED(ule) for the meeting of the Materials Special Interest Group during the 2015 Annual Conference of the Art Libraries Society of North America at 1:30-2:30pm on Saturday, March 21 in Sundance 5 at the Omni conference hotel in downtown Fort Worth, Texas.

Topics will include:
  • Introduction Lightning Round
  • Project Updates
  • Session Proposals for 2016
  • Next Steps (Group Leadership & Resource Development)

Please send any additional items for discussion by Wednesday, March 18 to


February 9-13, 2015
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Free with online registration

Material Xperience is the leading trade event for (interior) architects and creative professionals focused on materials, innovation and inspiration. In 2015, the content and speakers program at Material Xperience will explore the theme of ‘The Five Senses’.

We live both consciously and unconsciously in our environment through touch, sight, hearing, taste and sense of smell. Good design and conscious material choice can positively influence one’s perception of the surrounding environment. This is not only terms of atmosphere and comfort, but also in terms of enhancing performance in schools, offices, care environments, shops and restaurants. A good `sensorial` design always delivers!

For knowledge junkies, Materia has invited inspiring experts, visionaries and innovators from diverse corners of the world. In short, everything you always wanted to know about the wonderful world of the senses will come to the forefront in a number of ways at this edition of Material Xperience.

Return this year to experience materials during Material Xperience and be inspired by the experts in the seminar program. This program will focus each day on a specific sector with six inspiring speakers per day.

6th North American Materials Education Symposium: REGISTRATION DEADLINE

Innovation, computation, simulation, and visualization in materials-related education

March 26-27, 2015, The Ohio State University, Columbus OH

Registration deadline: January 31, 2015


DEADLINE EXTENDED: 2015 Materials Education Symposia

EXTENDED DEADLINE: submit before Oct 31

Submit your abstract or register now for the 2015 Materials Education Symposia, which are open to all educators teaching undergraduates about materials within engineering, design, architecture, sustainability, and other science subjects.

In the words of one attendee, these events provide “the main forum for discussion of education issues in engineering materials”.

Both talks and posters are being accepted for the 2015 events—submit yours before October 31.

Bringing Focus to the Materials Collection

Barbara Opar
Librarian for Architecture, French Language and Literature, Judaic Studies and Religion Research and Scholarship
Bird Library at Syracuse University

The first blog post on the topic of the (Physical) Materials Collection housed in the Architecture Reading Room was produced almost a year ago: This unique collection is jointly supported by the Syracuse University Libraries and the School of Architecture.

Since then, programming has been added. Scheduled vendor visits have been introduced to help promote the existing collection and to grow it in different ways with new products and expanded information on existing samples. Student and faculty feedback obtained through a survey strengthened our resolve to introduce this educational component. Developing the materials collection through focused sessions, therefore, provided the opportunity for involving students and faculty and acquainting them with this new collection. Since 96 percent of survey respondents indicated a need for more product information, this was seen as a mandate to offer Material Focus sessions.

The existing materials samples collection was reviewed to identify potential vendors based on the quality of the product, use patterns and depth of holdings. Additionally one of the comprehensive design studios in the School of Architecture was researching metals. Vendors with regional representatives were identified; an email drafted and sent and appropriate dates determined. Several viable candidates responded. Hendricks Manufacturing agreed to an April 1st date and was able to offer continuing education credits. This became our first Material Focus session with an informal demonstration, a presentation and an opportunity for questions. Hendricks sent three representatives to the event, with the Vice President of Sales, John Brandt, conducting the lecture session. The chat session drew a good number of attendees with about 14 or 15 people attending the more formal meeting.

Hendrick 3form

The fall program is now underway and our second Material Focus session was led by Russell Blanchard of 3form. 3form is known to many in the academic and professional architecture communities for their innovative products including translucent resin and recycled glass. The September 17th program again afforded the opportunity for informal discussion, followed by an overview of the company’s products at 11 o’clock. About 25 attended this presentation.

After our first Material Focus session, we were contacted by several vendors, who now see this as an opportunity to educate those who will soon be specifying their materials. Just this fall, Larry Liberatore, a part-time School of Architecture faculty member, actively began helping us identify and recruit additional speakers.

Additional Material Focus events are planned for the fall, so stay tuned! Patterned after the lunch and learn partnerships of many firms and vendors, the goal of the Materials Focus sessions is student training on how architectural products and systems are designed. Faculty, alumni and guests are offered the opportunity to earn continuing education credits and learn about new vendor lines. The sessions often result in more products coming into the materials collection. We hope that Materials Focus sessions will gain momentum, provide outreach and educational opportunities, while expanding use of this unique collection.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 265 other followers