2013 Annual Report ARLIS/NA Canada Chapter

Submitted by:  Daniel Payne, Canadian Member-at-Large (CMAL), ARLIS/NA Executive Board

  1. Articulate New Directions and Identity for the Profession

History of Art Libraries in Canada, Part 2

At the ARLIS/NA Canada Chapter meeting in Pasadena (27 Apr. 2013), a small working group was struck to explore new directions for the History of Art Librarianship in Canada: Essay in the History of Art Librarianship in Canada.  This initial project was generously sponsored and funded by the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives and first made available online in 2006. The Canadian Chapter seeks to continue this tradition of excellence by publishing a second edition that will include additional essays on libraries, institutions and related resource centres not profiled in the original publication.  The Chapter feels that in order to “articulate new directions” and identities for the profession of librarianship, it is essential for libraries across Canada to access resources that allow institutional knowledge of how peer libraries have evolved over time in their collections, spaces and visual and information literacy services.

The current working committee consists of:

  • Margaret English, Fine Art Librarian, Department of Art Library, University of Toronto
  •  Effie Patelos, MI, BArch, BES
  • Daniel Payne, Canadian Member-at-Large, ARLIS/NA Canada; Head Reference & Instructional Services, Dorothy H. Hoover Library, OCAD University
  • David Sume, MA, MLIS

History of Art Libraries in Canada (HAL) vol. 2 committee member Margaret English and the Canadian Member-at-Large (CMAL), Daniel Payne had a meeting with Sara Angel from the Art Canada Institute (ACI), a non-profit organization based in Massey College at the University of Toronto that has developed a portal for original art publications on Canadian artists launched in late Nov. 2013.  ACI approaches known art critics/historians that have published widely on Canadian artists, then has them write more concise e-books for inclusion on the Canadian Online Art Book Project as free, edited, reviewed publications.  The goal is to provide more equitable access to information on Canadian art and artists in an online forum.  Interest has been expressed by ACI to include the HAL 2 project included in their collection.  It is a very elegant portal and the publication would benefit immeasurably from the marketing and visibility of the project overall.  It would, however, cost money for:

  • editing
  • translation services (English to French/French to English)

To maintain the unity of ACI’s editorial vision; these two factors would have to be used to participate in the ACI project.  Both services would come at a somewhat high price, estimated at around $10,000; but potentially ARLIS/NA Canada membership could cover some of the editing and translation services internally, thus decreasing overall costs to publish on the ACI platform.  Given the recent successes of the ARLIS/NA Ontario fundraising, however, the working committee could potentially begin a more focussed campaign and it could be an achievable financial goal.  As well, there might be potential for ARLIS/NA funding which, for Chapters, would not cover print publications, but as this is a virtual one, the committee is hopeful that the Canadian Chapter could potentially secure sufficient financial support.

A finalized list of libraries to be profiled has been compiled by David Sume who built on the institutions recommended by Jo Beglo in October 2012:

HAL2 (compiled by Jo Beglo, National Gallery of Canada, Library & Archives, Oct. 2012)

  • Montréal Museum of Fine Arts Library: Joanne Déry, Head Librarian,
  • Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec Special Collections: Élise Lassonde
  • Emily Carr University of Art & Design (ECUAD) (Vancouver): James Rout
  • Blackader-Lauterman Library, McGill University: Jennifer Garland
  • Mediatheque, Musee d’art Contemporain de Montreal: Sylvie Alix
  • Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec: Hélène Godbout
  • Dorothy H. Hoover Library, OCAD University: Jill Patrick
  • Canadian Architectural Archives, University of Calgary: Linda Fraser Archivist & Librarian
  • Fine Art & Architecture Library, University of Toronto: Margaret English
  • Musagetes Architecture Library, University of Waterloo: Michele Laing
  • Clara Lander Library, Winnipeg Art Gallery: Kenlyn Collins

HAL2 (added recommendations by working committee, Nov. 2013)

  • Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives, Art Gallery Ontario (AGO): Larry Pfaff
  • Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) Library & Archives: Arthur Smith
  • Bibliothèque des arts, Université du Québec à Montréal:  Louise Guy
  • Canadian Art Foundation Library, Canadian Art Magazine (Toronto)
  • Aboriginal Art Centre, Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (Gatineau)
  • Canadian Museum of Civilization Library, Canadian Museum of History: Nicolas Gauvin
  • Military History Research Centre, The Canadian War Museum (Ottawa)
  • Glenbow Museum Library (Calgary): Lindsay Moir
  • McMichael Library & Archives, McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Toronto): Linda Morita

The official call for papers is being compiled and will be sent in early 2014. It is hoped that the responses from institutions willing to participate will help build the structure for this anthology of library histories.

Ideally, institutions to be considered for inclusion will feature collections and services that support art, design, architectural, as well as visual and material culture research. The majority of these libraries will likely be housed independently in dedicated spaces; however, arts-based holdings within a larger comprehensive university or public library collection could be applicable, although should have unique spatial, structural, or service-based features that distinguish it as a noteworthy collection in support of creative arts-based production, research, or inquiry.

  1. Expand Mentoring, Management, and Transition Skills

National Gallery of Canada Library & Archives Statement of Concern

In February 2013, as a response to cut-backs to staffing at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) Library & Archives, the CMAL spearheaded a campaign to compose and send a statement of concern.  The Canadian Chapter was unified in expressing dissatisfaction over this situation that compromised services at the central core institution connecting all Canadian art libraries, thus preventing Canadian librarians from being offered meaningful mentorship and management guidance nation-wide. The letter (see English and French version) outlines profound concern over the impacts of these funding cuts to the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) Library & Archives that enacted the tragic loss of one-third of its staff.

Composed in consultation with art librarians and chairs for regional chapters of ARLIS/NA from across Canada, the statement conveys a collective anguish over the consequences of the loss of intellectual skill, expertise and commitment that will challenge, if not compromise, the NGC’s mandate to: “develop, maintain, and make known, throughout Canada and internationally, a collection of works of art, both historic and contemporary, with special, but not exclusive, reference to Canada, and to further knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment of art in general among all Canadians.”   (National Gallery of Canada. “A Unique Mandate.” Web. http://www.gallery.ca/en/about/).

Commendation is due to all who signed with special recognition owed to:

  • Nancy Duff, Canadian representative on the ARLIS/NA Public Policy Committee, for her unparalleled editorial and compositional skills in synthesizing commentaries from many diverse sources;
  • John Latour from Artexte, for providing amazingly rapid French translation services;
  • Jennifer Garland, président/chair of ARLIS/NA MOQ, for her networking skill and for inspiring us all with a call to action!

On 19 March 2013 the letter was addressed and sent to:

  • Marc Mayer, Director of the National Gallery of Canada

with cc’ed copies sent to:

  • Moira McCaffrey, Executive Director Canadian Art Museum Directors’ Organization;
  • the Hon. James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage;
  • the Rt Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.
  1. Create Stronger Leadership through Promotion, Cooperation and Advocacy


In accordance with the ARLIS/NA Canada Chapter’s bylaws, the CMAL appointed the following members for the 2013:

  • Canadian Member-at-Large, Canadian Representative of ARLIS/NA: Daniel Payne, Head, Instructional Services, Dorothy H. Hoover Library, OCAD University
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Vanessa Kam, Head, Art + Architecture + Planning, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia
  • Atlantic Region Representative: Rebecca Young, Visual Resources Librarian, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University Libraries
  • Prairie Region Representative: Liv Valmestad, Art Librarian, University of Manitoba Libraries
  • ARLIS/NA MOQ Representative: Élise Lassonde, Bibliothécaire, spécialiste de collections; Livres d’artistes, estampes et reliures d’art; Direction de la recherche et de l’édition, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  • ARLIS/NA Ontario Representative: Victoria Sigurdson, Head, Visual Resources & Special Collections, OCAD University
  • ARLIS/NA Northwest Representative Cheryl Siegel, Librarian/Archivist, Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Past Canadian Member-at-Large: James Rout, University Librarian, Emily Carr University
  1. Emphasize Collections and Stewardship Role

In addition to the aforementioned History of Art Libraries in Canada vol.2 publication (listed in section #1) which strongly supports this fourth goal enunciated in the ARLIS/NA Strategic Plan (2011-15), the CMAL has actively supported and promoted the Melva J. Dwyer Award recognizing “the creators of exceptional reference or research tools relating to Canadian art and architecture.”  The Chapter sees the designation of this award as being an ideal means of emphasizing collections and enacting stewardship by promoting and celebrating excellence in Canadian art publishing within the international ARLIS/NA community.

2013 Melva J. Dwyer Award

The Melva J. Dwyer Award committee received 15 nominations representing a diverse range of subjects on Canadian art, architecture and design; all jurors were pleased to view such a dynamic array of publications chronicling our national artistic and cultural heritage.  One title, however, stood out as truly representing an “exceptional reference or research tool relating to Canadian art and architecture”

ARLIS/NA Canada was pleased to confer the 2013 Melva J. Dwyer Award to: IAIN BAXTER&: Works 1958–2011 – David Moos (Editor); Christophe Domino; Lucy R. Lippard; Iain Baxter; Art Gallery of Ontario Staff (Contribution by); Dennis W. Durham; Isabelle Hermann; Adam Lauder; Robert Wainstein; Alexander Alberro; Michael Darling

This publication accompanied an international exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Featuring more than 160 reproductions, it also includes essays by the exhibition co-curators David Moos and Michael Darling, as well as contributions by Lucy Lippard among others. A noteworthy feature is the comprehensive bibliography compiled by ARLIS/NA member Adam Lauder of York University.

The integrity of the critical essays, high quality art reproductions, academically sound citations, rigorous indexing, innovative nature of the publication’s “Narrative Chronology,” and authoritative bibliography all make this a publication of unique value for researchers in Canada and beyond.

The 2013 jurors included:

  • Adrienne Connelly, Librarian, Alberta College of Art + Design
  • Élise Lassonde, Bibliothécaire, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  • Linda Morita, Librarian/Archivist, McMichael Canadian Art Collection

2014 Melva J. Dwyer Award Preparations

The call for nominations has been posted on the ARLIS/NA Canada site and sent via: CARLIS-L listserv; ARLIS-L;directly to did the press offices and individual contacts from major Canadian publication firms and university presses. Several new organizations have been included to represent smaller, independent art publisher. 11 titles were nominated by the 31 December 2013 deadline and were posted on the ARLIS/NA Canada website.

Three jurors have been selected to represent distinctive regions in Canada:

  • Claire Parker, John Labatt Visual Resources Centre, Western University (Ontario)
  • Rebecca Young, University Librairan, NSCAD University (Atlantic Region)
  • Sylvia Roberts, Liaison Librarian for Communication & Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University (Northwest Region)
  1. Strengthen Communication and Operational Infrastructure

Website & CARLIS-L Listserv

September 2013: it was announced that after many years of generously providing hosting for the CARLIS-L listserv, the Banff Centre would discontinue support for the service by the end of Fall 2013.  As this is a well-used portal for communicating information on Canadian art, design & architecture in Canada, a new hosting solution was explored.  Contact was made with the Communications & Publications Committee to inquire about potential platforms as offered by TEI or as a sub-portal through ARLIS-L.  Consultation with the ARLIS/NA Canada executive was conducted to decide on future directions.

October 2013: after consultation with the Executive Committee, it was decided that a new listserv be set-up through TEI.  Although archiving and searching features are not possible using the new forum, it will continue to serve as an essential means of communicating among peer Canadian librarians.

On 22 October, the following instructions were sent to all Canadian members:

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Given potential instability in hosting services at the Banff Centre, the CMAL will be exploring alternate domains for the ARLIS/NA Canada website.  It is desirable to maintain the currently Drupal content management system—rather than migrate all content to a new platform—as it offers unparalleled capabilities for creating mirrored French/English versions of pages.  Currently, the hosting services at the Banff Centre has been stable; however, migrating the web page to an ARLIS/NA domain will be explored as it will offer more intimate cross-platform access between the organization, better technical support and, overall, a more dependable and robust institutional hosting service over time.