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Monday, March 22

1:00pm CDT

Digital Accessibility and Accessible Design Practices [Add-On Workshop 3] -- WORKSHOP FULL
$30.00 for conference attendees | Limited to 25 participants.
Register for this virtual workshop through the conference online registration

This workshop focuses on the concepts of digital accessibility and accessible design practices, and the tools and strategies we can use when creating digital projects to be sure we are making them useful to as many people as possible. This year has seen a necessary focus on virtual teaching and resource creation - how are accessibility needs being considered?

This workshop will not be recorded.

avatar for Tiffany Saulter

Tiffany Saulter

Accessibility Consultant and Trainer, Deque
Digital Librarian and pop culture fanatic.
avatar for Carie Fisher

Carie Fisher

Sr. Accessibility Consultant and Trainer, Deque
Carie Fisher is an author, speaker, and developer who is passionate about the intersection of front-end code and UX, digital accessibility, and diversity in technology. Currently, Carie is employed as a Senior Accessibility Consultant and Trainer at Deque Systems while pursuing h... Read More →

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vrcHost specializes in installation, integration, customization, and feature development for the Madison Digital Image Database (MDID) project - an open source digital content management system used at hundreds of institutions worldwide for teaching and scholarship in the visual arts... Read More →

Monday March 22, 2021 1:00pm - 4:00pm CDT
Tuesday, March 23

10:00am CDT

Adaptability, Ingenuity, and Opportunity: VR Professionals During a Pandemic
In 2020, most if not all of us went from working in an office to working at home in the blink of an eye, forcing us to immediately pivot into new practices and approaches to our professional roles. From assisting faculty and students with the transition to online teaching to managing our collections from a distance, we all rose to the challenge of our new “normal,” transforming our day-to-day work in the process. And while some of these changes may be temporary, others will permanently impact how VR professionals approach their facilities, patrons, and practices. This roundtable discussion is designed to help us engage with and process these changes, with an eye to how we have met these challenges and thrived. Through a series of short, lightening round talks by speakers from a range of institutional roles and via lively discussion we will explore what has changed and what remains core to our work, addressing enhanced responsibilities; the use of new tools; innovative changes to our services; cultivating connections with patrons in a remote environment; safely transitioning back to the office; and what changes we anticipate to the profession and our professional lives moving forward based on the experience gleaned from working at home.   

Endorsed by the VRA Education Committee

Lightning Round Speakers (Lightning round speakers will briefly address the range of topics outlined above, to prepare for what we hope will be a robust discussion!)

Andrea Degener, Visual Materials Processing Archivist, and Skye Lacerte, DB Dowd Modern Graphic History Library Curator, both of Washington University in Saint Louis
Amy McKenna, Visual Resources Curator, Williams College
Lorraine Gerrity, Visual Resources Curator, School of Visual Arts
Betha Whitlow, Visual Resources Curator, Washington University in Saint Louis

avatar for Betha Whitlow

Betha Whitlow

Curator of Visual Resources, Washington University in Saint Louis

avatar for Skye Lacerte

Skye Lacerte

Modern Graphic History Library Curator, Washington University
avatar for Andrea Degener

Andrea Degener

Visual Materials Processing Archivist, Washington University in St. Louis

Tuesday March 23, 2021 10:00am - 11:00am CDT

11:00am CDT

Cash Rules Everything Around Me
"Cash Rules Everything Around Me" will gather a diverse range of GLAM professionals to discuss financial/compensation transparency and how it relates to the field. It will generate a fruitful discussion surrounding compensation at various points in one’s career and across the field at large. Everyone is encouraged to attend. Students and emerging professionals, in particular, will leave feeling empowered with strategies to navigate employment, and managers/administrators will gain insight into potential discrepancies and inequities. Q&A will be taken at the end.

Maureen Burns is an information professional with over 30 years of experience developing and managing teaching resources of analog and digital images at UC Irvine, the Getty Villa, and CSULB. Working on a consulting basis through IMAGinED, Burns is currently the sales representative for Archivision/vrcHost, technical consultant on the CSU Archives Japanese American Digitization project, and participating in other educational and image-focused work. Her degrees are in History (BA), Art History (MA), and Education (EdD). She is active in the Visual Resources Association participating in the work of VRA’s Awards and Financial Advisory Committees as well as serving as the Affiliate Representative to the College Art Association (also past VRA president, past director of the VRA Foundation, past editor of the VRA Bulletin, and past chair of the VRA's Southern California Chapter).

Jennifer Friedman is the Interim Dean for Research & Learning and the Head of Research Services at the University Libraries, University of Massachusetts Amherst. As the Head of Research Services, she leads a department of 11 librarians who serve as the liaisons to a wide variety of academic departments across Arts, Business, Humanities and Social Sciences. Jennifer also coordinates the Libraries’ Academic Liaison Program, which includes Research Services librarians and librarians from seven departments in the Libraries. She is a member of the Administrative Team and the Libraries Leadership Council. She has worked at a variety of academic institutions from small to large, public to private.

Margaret C. McKee is the Digital Asset Manager at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. A work-study position in a slide library in college ended up being the inciting incident for a career spent working with images. In her current role at the Menil, Margaret oversees photography of collection objects, digitization of analog photography, rights and reproductions, and soon the implementation of a digital asset management system. Previously, she worked in photographic and imaging services at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She began her professional career as the Slide Librarian at Southwestern University. She holds an AA from Bard College at Simon’s Rock, a BAFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico, and an MS in Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

This Session will not be recorded.
Presentation Slides

avatar for Kendra Werst

Kendra Werst

Assistant Visual Resources Curator, Williams College

avatar for Maureen Burns

Maureen Burns

Consultant, IMAGinED
Maureen Burns is an information professional with over 30 years of experience developing and managing teaching resources of analog and digital images at UC Irvine, the Getty Villa, and CSULB. Presently working on a consulting basis through IMAGinED, Burns is currently the sales representative... Read More →
avatar for Jennifer Friedman

Jennifer Friedman

Interim Dean for Research & Learning and Head of Research Services, University of Massachusetts Amherst
avatar for Margaret C. McKee

Margaret C. McKee

Digital Asset Manager, The Menil Collection
Hi! My name is Margaret McKee, and I am the Digital Asset Manager for the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. My areas of interest include digital asset management, cultural heritage imaging, and intellectual property issues.

Session Organizers
avatar for Andrew Wang

Andrew Wang

Art and Architecture Librarian, University of Oregon

Tuesday March 23, 2021 11:00am - 12:00pm CDT

1:00pm CDT

Solo VR Professionals
Meghan Rubenstein will present “The Results Are in: What the Solo SIG Community Is Today.” In an effort to revive the VRA Solo SIG, Lael Ensor-Bennett and Meghan Rubenstein distributed a survey in the fall of 2020 to learn if there was still interest in this group. By definition, solo visual information professionals generally have no professional peers within their immediate department. They often serve as the head of the library or visual collection and may have temporary or part-time support staff such as assistants, interns, student workers, or volunteers. Solo professionals are found in all types of GLAM related organizations including special libraries, art and architecture school libraries, museum libraries, branch libraries, academic departments, and independent agencies.
In this short presentation, she will summarize the results of the survey, which gives us a good idea of what, and who, the solo community is today. Questions ranged from type of employment and job responsibilities to the main challenges of the solo professional. Since distributing the survey, the Solo SIG has started meeting bi-monthly and begun brainstorming how the group can best support each other. If you are unsure if this is your community, come learn more about its members. If you are already a member, come learn more about your community!

Lael Ensor-Bennett will present “Delegation, Efficiency, and Compassion during a Solo Covid-19: Recalibrating the Duties of Student Employees.” While continuing the transition to being the sole staff member of the Johns Hopkins University Visual Resources Collection, the immediate change to remote staff work in March of 2020 around the country and here in Maryland left the VRC undergraduate and graduate student employees without access to their usual projects or clear guidelines for whether they would be allowed to work and myself without the ability to delegate many of the usual tasks. After several weeks of university wide policy revisions, the VRC was able to begin assigning remote work to students. As the pandemic progressed, certain technological hurdles were overcome, allowing a wider range of remote work to be available to the students; however, this work also needed to continuously take into account the reduced bandwidth of both staff and students. During this time, Ensor-Bennett has aimed to strike a balance between new and traditional student work that is relevant and useful to the VRC without adding work to her own workload, act in compassion for herself and her student employees and still complete necessary work, and realign the possible student work activities with her changed tasks in light of Covid-19.

Malia Van Heukelem will present “Leveraging Collections Management and Student Learning in an Academic Archive.” Museum studies and Library Information Science students seek out hands-on experience in special collections and archives; this past year has seen many host institutions cease in-person work. Van Heukelem aims to create opportunities for students while making progress in collections stewardship, matching student interests with collection priorities.

Cindy Frank will present “Architects of Color: The challenges of finding images to document their work.” Frank’s image collection supports the teaching of Architecture to both undergraduates and graduates. In an effort to broaden the holdings of the image collection and to support a more in depth teaching of architectural history Frank went looking for images of works by architects of color in the journals University of Maryland subscribes to, and the books on library shelves. There have been challenges, both from the pandemic, and from available materials.

This Session will not be recorded.

avatar for Meghan Rubenstein

Meghan Rubenstein

Curator of Visual Resources, Colorado College

avatar for Malia Van Heukelem

Malia Van Heukelem

Art Archivist Librarian, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library
Malia oversees the Jean Charlot Collection, a large collection of artist papers, plus the Archive of Hawaii Artists & Architects at Hamilton Library. Previously, she worked in the Library's Preservation Department, and has served as Collections Manager for the state's Art in Public... Read More →
avatar for Cindy Frank

Cindy Frank

Architecture Librarian, University of Maryland
Let's talk about: Images for Architecture, Historic Preservation, Urban Planning. Legacy Collections. Diversity in those collections. Shared Governance. Supporting students while in the online environment. I am the Diversity Co-Officer for the Libraries, and as such I am co-chair... Read More →

Session Organizers

Lael J Ensor-Bennett

Assistant Curator, Johns Hopkins University

Tuesday March 23, 2021 1:00pm - 2:00pm CDT
Thursday, March 25

10:00am CDT

Oral Histories for the Uninitiated: Transcribing, Copyright, Metadata and Everything in Between
Oral Histories have a rich tradition of providing an important contribution to our cultural heritage by preserving memory through recorded or documented narratives. As primary sources, oral histories help to contextualize studies in art, history, education, social sciences and other disciplines. In a time of continually shifting and expanding responsibilities for librarians and visual resources curators, it is not uncommon for those in our profession to be tasked with organizing and/or creating oral history (OH) content. For those of us who are not trained journalists, cultural anthropologists, or oral historians, overseeing an OH project can present multiple challenges: What pieces of information should be captured for future access? How do you ensure transcriptions are accurate? How do you handle copyright issues? How do you expand and improve access to existing OH content? Three presenters will discuss their OH projects and provide practical advice about dealing with some of the roadblocks in creating a coherent, accessible archive of audio/video recordings and transcriptions. The speakers will also share information about best practices and emphasize how their projects allowed them the opportunity to bring their unique perspectives on organizing and shaping these histories.


Jodi Hoover

Digital Resources Manager, Enoch Pratt Free Library


Barbara Elam

Associate Director of Visual Media Resources and Study Collection Librarian, Bard Graduate Center
avatar for Brittany Kester

Brittany Kester

Education Librarian, University of Florida

Xiaoli Ma

Metadata Librarian, University of Florida

avatar for vrcHost


vrcHost specializes in installation, integration, customization, and feature development for the Madison Digital Image Database (MDID) project - an open source digital content management system used at hundreds of institutions worldwide for teaching and scholarship in the visual arts... Read More →

Thursday March 25, 2021 10:00am - 11:00am CDT

2:00pm CDT

Collaboration and Outreach: Building Innovative Projects
Jackie Spafford & Sonja Sekely-Rowland, "Inter-agency Collaboration: Bringing together VRA and SAH preservation goals through an NEH grant-funded project"
Timing is everything: the presenters were notified of their successful application for a 2020-2022 NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Planning Grant just as the world went into lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news/bad news clash has presented them with a number of unforeseen challenges. This paper will provide insight into both the initial project vision as well as necessary and ongoing adjustments, and will cover:
  1. An overview of the project including background of the Society of Architectural Historians and its Color Film Emergency Project; the relationship to the VRA, especially the “Slide and Transitional Media Task Force”; internships and fellowships at UCR and UCSB that provided a model and proof of concept for this project.
  2. Grant writing lessons learned in navigating institutional research requirements and economic development policies.
  3. How the project goals and scope are being re-considered in response to pandemic travel restrictions and other COVID-related challenges.
  4. Opportunities for collaborative partnerships with other VRA members.

John Burns, "Curation of an International Documentary Film Festival" Join the presenter in this session to learn how curation of a special collection can be accomplished regardless of format. The presenter works at an institution that hosts an international documentary film festival every fall on campus. The festival has run and grow over the last 10+ years. By taking the initiative to join a campus committee in charge of the festival, the presenter (a solo art and electronic resources librarian) ensured the acquisition of the films from each festival. Curating this collection from scratch meant volunteering to learn how to create DVD and Blu-Ray discs from filmmaker digital files, gathering all metadata for cataloging, preserving the digital film files, and created access to a new collection. It also meant leading the coordination of several key players across campus. Curation of any collection from scratch is no small task. Answers to the following questions and more will be discussed in the session. What format will yield the most use? HD vs. standard definition? How to preserve the digital film files? How to work with copyright releases? How to best facilitate discovery? What are the best practices for essential metadata for cataloging?

Krystyna Matusiak, "Building a Community Digital Archive in the Post-Custodial World"   Community archives are vital for preserving and documenting the regional heritage of groups and individuals. Local archives are often organized by volunteers and represent grassroots activities. In contrast to institutional archives, community archives are characterized by mixed acquisition and curation practices, often described as post-custodial, that separate physical custody from the digital representation.  In this approach, original materials are returned to community members after digital surrogates are created.   This presentation will discuss the formation of a rural community archive in Park County, Colorado, and the collaborative project aimed at sustaining it. The Park County Local History Archive was established by a group of volunteers who collected and digitized over 4,000 photographs and created 60 oral histories. This effort resulted in an archive composed of a mix of original photographs, digital surrogates, and born-digital content. The archive provides unique primary sources for researchers interested in the history of mining and railroads, or the challenges of rural life in the mountainous region.  The presenters will describe the community-based project and efforts made to continue the work of volunteers. This collaborative initiative involves re-digitizing the original photographs, converting oral histories, assessing copyright, assigning standardized rights statements from RightsStatements.org, and building a digital archive and exhibits in Omeka. The Digital Archive is available at https://pclha.cvlcollections.org/ . This presentation will discuss the challenges of post-custodial practices and building a digital community archive, including re-scanning, evaluating the copyright status of historical materials, and working with digital donations. It will describe the strategies of working with a remote archive during the pandemic.

avatar for Jacqueline Spafford

Jacqueline Spafford

Image Resources Curator, University of California, Santa Barbara
avatar for John Burns

John Burns

Electronic Resources Librarian, Dixie State University Library
avatar for Sonja Sekely-Rowland

Sonja Sekely-Rowland

Visual Resources Curator, University of California, Riverside
avatar for Krystyna Matusiak

Krystyna Matusiak

Associate Professor, University of Denver
Krystyna K. Matusiak has been working as an Assistant Professor in the Library & Information Science Program (LIS) at the Morgridge College of Education since September 2011. She earned her MLIS and PhD from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to accepting her position at the... Read More →
avatar for Lisa Dot Donovan

Lisa Dot Donovan

Digital Content Specialist, Regis University
avatar for Sarah Werling

Sarah Werling

Metadata Technician, University of Colorado Boulder
Sarah Werling is the Metadata Technician in the Metadata and Optimization Discovery team at the University of Colorado, Boulder Libraries. Sarah received her BA in Art History at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and got her MLIS at the University of Denver. Sarah has worked... Read More →

Thursday March 25, 2021 2:00pm - 3:00pm CDT
Friday, March 26

11:00am CDT

Best Practices in Digital Collections
Shannon Willis & Marcia McIntosh, "The perils of complexity: A multi-stage study to determine necessary images for digitized scrapbook representation" The digitization of complex scrapbooks is a common problem faced by cultural heritage professionals. Unlike more standard bound works, scrapbooks are highly complex objects with multiple moving parts and numerous special features. Their makers attach a wide variety of material types (photographs, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, letters, ribbons, etc.) to the pages; many of the items attached to the pages fold out or can open to reveal more information, and some items are left unattached between pages. Given their complexity and variability, determining digitization standards for scrapbooks that will hold up across all manner of collections and accurately represent their unique elements in an understandable way in a digital environment can be challenging.     In order to answer the question of how to best represent scrapbook materials in a digital environment, librarians at the University of North Texas conducted a multi-stage study to assess national trends and user preferences for scrapbook representation. The stages of this study included a review of national trends in scrapbook digitization, as seen in the Digital Public Library of America; a paper-prototyping-inspired, in-person user study; and an online survey of user preferences. The results of this research have enabled the implementation of clear guidelines at the University of North Texas for scrapbook digitization that accounts for the user experience rather than strictly relying on personal opinion or local librarian consensus. The insights gained from this study can help other institutions working to digitize scrapbook materials or other complex items, as well. 

Maggie Downing, "Creating Digital Preservation Policies and Procedures" According to the IMLS 2019 report, “Protecting America’s Collections,” 84% of institutions preserving born-digital collections had no plan for digital preservation. This paper will discuss the importance of creating and maintaining digital preservation policies and procedures.     As a result of consistently changing standards, hardware, software, and file formats, digital assets are at a much higher preservation risk than conventional analog resources. New technologies and advancements require active organization and administration to preserve digital objects, particularly since the field is still developing. A digital preservation policy should state an institutional commitment to preserving digital objects, identify challenges and preservation goals, outline staff roles and responsibilities in digital preservation. Digital preservation procedures can the be developed based on the goals outlined in the policy.    This paper will discuss several procedural steps to consider in digital preservation, including: Creating a digital asset register; creating a plan for migration from old media; establishing a storage and backup plan; establishing standardized file formats and file naming protocols; and establishing metadata vocabularies and ingest workflows. 

Sarah Coe, "When to Say When" an imminent professor of architecture donated tens of thousands of his photographs to be digitized and made available to the public, along with the funds to pay for it. Because of inconsistencies in filenaming conventions and organization, automation was difficult, but a workflow was established, and the collection was ingested. He then dropped off another hard drive of images. Hierarchical organizing principles in the first batch were often missing in the second, and integrating them presented a new crop of challenges. Through collaboration and the use of tools like OpenRefine, our own XML based tool, and a crowd-sourcing project, we are making progress, but with 18,600 folders and sub-folders and 340,000 images, when do you decide when to say "when"?

avatar for Shannon Willis

Shannon Willis

Digital Projects Lab Manager, University of North Texas
Digital Projects Lab Manager
avatar for Marcia McIntosh

Marcia McIntosh

Digital Production Librarian, University of North Texas
University of North Texas
avatar for Maggie Downing

Maggie Downing

Manager of Digital Imaging, Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts
Maggie Downing manages all digital imaging projects at CCAHA. She also works with institutions to conduct digital preservation assessments and planning for large-scale digitization projects. Maggie is a member of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Philadelphia Area Conservation... Read More →
avatar for Sarah Coe

Sarah Coe

Visual Resources Support Specialist, Yale University

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vrcHost specializes in installation, integration, customization, and feature development for the Madison Digital Image Database (MDID) project - an open source digital content management system used at hundreds of institutions worldwide for teaching and scholarship in the visual arts... Read More →

Friday March 26, 2021 11:00am - 12:00pm CDT

1:00pm CDT

“Curation-Ready” Workflows for Digitized Photograph Collections: A Temporary Need or the New Norm?
This session presents an overview of a “curation-ready” workflow for digitized photographs that was implemented at the University of Notre Dame Archives. This workflow emerged as a response to the increased need for digitization services for campus stakeholders, faculty and students during the COVID-19 health crisis. Encompassing a holistic approach to digitization services, this session provides an overview of the workflow which includes digitization, pre-ingest preparation, ingest into a digital preservation system, and post-ingest work to ensure storage and discovery paths for preservation masters, access masters, and access proxies.  Borrowing from principles of data curation, this workflow integrates digital preservation methodology as well as data curation processes at the point of data creation to ensure “ready-access,” cost-effective and responsible stewardship of digital photo collections.

avatar for Scott Kirycki

Scott Kirycki

Digital Archivist, University of Notre Dame
As the Digital Archivist at Notre Dame, I develop and implement policies, procedures, and workflows for records retention and the appraisal, ingest, and preservation of born-digital University records.
avatar for Elizabeth Hogan

Elizabeth Hogan

Senior Archivist for Photographs, University of Notre Dame
As the Senior Archivist for Photographs, Elizabeth Hogan preserves, provides access, and facilitates discovery to photographic and graphic materials housed within the University Archives. Her work includes collection care and management as well as digitization and metadata creation... Read More →

Friday March 26, 2021 1:00pm - 2:00pm CDT
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