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STL Special Library Spotlight: St. Louis Art Museum Library July 25, 2009

Posted by Cynthia in Library Stuff.
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In addition to its unique collection, St. Louis Art Museum’s library serves a wider range of patrons than I was expecting. Its core materials support the museum’s specific pieces and areas of specialization, but the library is broad enough to serve the needs of local college students whose institutional libraries do not have a well-developed art collection. Even colleges that have an art library may require their students to visit SLAM in order to familiarize themselves with its resources. I also was surprised to hear that many art dealers and other professionals rely on the auction databases that SLAM provides.

Our visit also taught me about the role of the different departments within a museum and how a library might support them. I was impressed with the level of research that the curators require, as well as their linguistic knowledge;  30 to 40% of the library’s collection is in German, French, or other foreign languages. The museum has undergone several reorganizations, and the library has done a good job of taking on new roles as they adapt to a changing environment, such as helping with permissions work. They have also taken steps towards uploading SLAM images into ARTSTOR, which will help the museum’s exposure and provide quality images for others.

I think we all appreciated learning about the challenges that library managers can face and what a department can do to evolve in tough times. The SLAM library is actively looking for ways to adapt and support its host institution through different avenues.

EH

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