Joan Benedetti is the 2013 recipient of the Society's Distinguised Service Award. The award was presented to Benedetti at the 42nd Annual Conference held in Washington, D.C., May 1-5, 2014. The Society’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, is presented to an individual of any country whose exemplary service in art librarianship, visual resources curatorship, or a related field has made an outstanding national or international contribution to art librarianship.
During the Society’s Convocation Ceremony, held in the Jefferson Wing of the Library of Congress, Ms. Benedetti was lauded by hundreds of friends and colleagues. “Joan Benedetti has been a force in the field of art librarianship and has served the Art Libraries Society of North America in many capacities, including chapter chair, conference organizer, author, and mentor,” said Gregory P. J. Most, President of ARLIS/NA. “Even in retirement, Joan continues to pursue projects that promote diversity and excellence in the field. It is an honor to present the Society’s highest honor to a dear friend.”
Ms. Benedetti’s participation and leadership within ARLIS/NA and the profession have been a constant since she joined in 1977. Over the course of her career her activities have included chairing the Southern California Chapter in 1980 and being the recipient of that chapter’s Lifetime Member Award in 2004, performing as Chair and Program Coordinator for the Annual Conference in Los Angeles in 1985 and serving as Conference Editor/Writer for the 2001 Annual Conference in Los Angeles, being a founding member of the Society Circle in 2003, and also being one of the founders of the Alternative Voices Speaker’s Fund in 2008.
Her library career began in 1967 as Decorative Arts Librarian for the Milwaukee Public Library. In 1976, she became Museum Librarian for the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) in Los Angeles. She remained there for 21 years building, as her former museum director noted, “a major resource library” although she “started with no collection whatsoever.” When CAFAM closed, she and the library moved to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1997 where she served as Librarian Cataloger until her retirement in 2002. She has written extensively on solo librarianship, art museum libraries, and folk art terminology. Perhaps her most important contribution to the field has been Art Museum Libraries and Librarianship, published in 2007 by Scarecrow Press and the Art Libraries Society of North America.