ARLIS/NA awarded four Student Diversity Virtual Conference Attendance Awards for the 2021 annual conference. The Diversity & Inclusion Committee has invited awardees to share their conference experience with the wider ARLIS/NA community.

Photograph of Sarah DeLaRosa
Sarah DeLaRosa

I would like to open my report with my gratitude towards ARLIS N/A and the Diversity & Inclusion Committee for awarding me a Student Diversity Scholarship and allowing me the opportunity to attend the ARLIS N/A 49th Annual Conference. As a recent MLS graduate, this experience is invaluable for me and my professional growth. I am a Mexican American woman who grew up and currently lives in a Texas/Mexico border town; this scholarship has provided me the chance to network in the wider world of art libraries, especially when  the pandemic limited those efforts during my MLS program. I will summarize my conference highlights. 

Pre-conference, I was able to partake in a resume workshop. In this session, we were paired with an experienced art information professional, and in my case, one other student, where we evaluated each other’s resumes. I was paired with Kit Messick, Manager of Special Collections Cataloging and Processing at the Getty Research Institute. Kit offered sound advice to spruce up my resume, crucial for me as a new graduate currently job hunting. 

The opening keynote address started strong. Dr. Charmaine Nelson opened the conference with her research regarding the effects of colonized archiving in Canada, and how that has promoted the erasure of slavery from Canada’s history. This topic is especially important to me, as I focused on bias in cataloging during my graduate studies. I am passionate about the social justice issues of librarianship, and I work to promote diversity, equity, and inclusivity both in my personal and professional life.

My favorite session from the conference was Gathering Sounds: A Case Study of the Interdisciplinary Cultural Study of Sonic Environments, presented by Margaret English. Margaret’s deep knowledge and personal collection of musical sound art was impressive! I love how she combines her musical passions within her work. Much of her personal musical sound art collection is accessible alongside the University of Toronto’s music sound art collection, which supports the university’s Soundscape Studies students. 

Other sessions I really enjoyed involved The Riot Grrrl Collection at NYU’s Fales Library and the historical importance concerning preserving zines and ephemera as a DIY time capsule. Kevin Talmer Whiteneir Jr.’s presentation, Queer Heresies, was stunning and magical. His research combines archival and art historical research with artmaking to create rituals of mythmaking, cultural subversion, and heresy. Hannah Marshall’s presentation concerning the Chinati Foundation’s archives was inspiring, as she shared her innovative approach to dealing with time constraints to fulfill a grant project during a pandemic. The results of her work provide equitable online access to the Chinati Foundation archives, which is important as Marfa, Texas, the city where these archives are located, is a remote location.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first ARLIS N/A annual conference. The expertise showcased through this conference further encourages my desire to continue my involvement with special collections and critical cataloging as a continued attempt to promote representation of marginalized groups. The conference presenters helped me realize that wherever I end up working, I will be able to intersect my commitment to art, culture, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Sarah De La Rosa is a 2021 graduate of the Texas Woman’s University MLS program. During her graduate studies, she focused on critical cataloging and completed an internship with The Menil Collection in Houston. Her interests include social justice issues in librarianship and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity in both her personal and professional life.

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