History and Mission

The Art Libraries Society of North America was founded in 1972 at the initiative of Judith Hoffberg by a group of art librarians attending the American Library Association annual conference in Chicago. This group realized that to fulfill the need among art librarians for better communication and cooperation, and to provide a forum for ideas, projects, and programs, an entirely new and separate organization was required. Inspired by the model of the Art Libraries Society, established in 1969 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, ARLIS/NA was created.

View a list of Past Presidents.

Our Mission

The mission of ARLIS/NA is to foster excellence in art and design librarianship and image management. We achieve this mission through a wide variety of activities, such as:

  • Meeting, networking, and sharing ideas in person at our annual conferences.
  • Publishing substantive articles of a practical as well as scholarly nature through our publications, such as Art Documentation, ARLIS/NA Reviews, Occasional Papers, and online publications.
  • Providing a forum for professional communication, via our listserv and web site.
  • Reaching out to future art librarians through numerous scholarship awards.
  • Recognizing excellence in the field through awards for research, service, and publication.

Our Vision

ARLIS/NA's vision is to be the leading organization in the arts information field. We will serve as a catalyst in the development of services and resources while maintaining the values and traditions in the field that are relevant to the changes that emerge over time. The Society will address the needs of art library and information professionals and support the advancement of the profession, by pursuing partnerships with other professional and educational organizations and participating in international forums. ARLIS/NA will foster an inclusive Society with a collaborative infrastructure that welcomes all members of society and promotes a multiplicity of viewpoints and perspectives.

Who We Are

ARLIS/NA is a growing, dynamic organization promoting the interests of more than 1,000 members. The membership includes architecture and art librarians, visual resources professionals, artists, curators, educators, publishers, students, and others throughout North America interested in visual arts information. To serve this diverse constituency, the Society provides a wide range of programs and services within an organizational structure that encourages participation at all levels.

ARLIS/NA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group organized for educational and charitable purposes.

Charter Members

ARLIS/NA was founded in Chicago in 1972 at a gathering of the following individuals:

  • Peter Anthony, Winnipeg, MB
  • Mary Ashe, San Francisco, CA
  • Phyllis Cohen, Albuquerque, NM
  • Andrea Dragon, Minneapolis, MN
  • Wolfgang Freitag, Cambridge, MA
  • Judith Hoffberg, Glendale, CA
  • John Larsen, New York, NY
  • Herbert Scherer, Minneapolis, MN
  • Jacqueline Sisson, Columbus, OH
  • William B. Walker, Washington, DC

Honorary Lifetime Members

ARLIS/NA bestows honorary life memberships to its Charter Members and Distinguished Service Award winners. The society also presents honorary life memberships to other individuals who over the years have made outstanding contributions to our society and professions.

  • Nancy Allen
  • Peter Anthony
  • Mary Ashe
  • Caroline Backlund
  • Patricia Barnett
  • Sherman Clarke
  • Phyllis Cohen
  • Susan Craig
  • William Dane
  • Andrea Dragon
  • Jim and Anna Emmett
  • Wolfgang Freitag
  • Rosemary Furtak
  • Angela Giral
  • Judith Hoffberg


  • Betty Jo Irvine
  • Lois Swan Jones
  • John Larsen
  • Antje Lemke
  • Philip Pacey
  • Pamela Parry
  • Toni Petersen
  • Herbert Scherer
  • Nancy Schuller
  • Elmar Seibel
  • Jacqueline Sisson
  • Luraine Tansey
  • William Walker
  • Mary Williamson
  • Patricia Wilson