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?


One thought on “Materials Special Interest Group Meeting at ARLIS/NA Annual Conference

  1. Thanks for the notes! I wasn’t able to be at the conference this year. I’ll just mention that UVa has a collection that we are currently cataloging in Shared Shelf. We’re working on the front-end of the catalog, and on refining our metadata. We’re currently avoiding “historic” materials, as we don’t have the resourcing for preservation of those kinds of items at this time. We conceive of the collection as inspirational, and non-permanent. Items may come and go much more quickly than with other library collections.
    Rebecca Coleman
    Architecture Librarian
    University of Virginia

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