Published 3/7/16

Joshua PolanskyTo celebrate the ARLIS/NA + VRA 3rd Joint Conference, "What Our Members Are Saying" includes guest posts by Visual Reseources Association (VRA) members.

Director, Visual Resources Collection, College of Built Environments, University of Washington

Heather Seneff, director of the Visual Media Center at the School of Art and Art History, University of Denver, introduced me to the Visual Resources Association when I was an MLIS student. I discovered a group of knowledgeable and welcoming professionals who shared my interest in connecting scholars to the visual materials that enhance their research and teaching. After joining in 2009, I got involved with my regional chapter and became a professional member when I came to my current position at the University of Washington.

I served as chair of the Pacific Rim Chapter of VRA from 2011 through 2014. I am co-chair of the ARLIS/NA + VRA 3rd Joint Conference in Seattle.

Visual resources professionals often work as solo curators, even on large university campuses like mine. Through its conferences, professional development programs, and listserv, VRA connects me to my peers and gives me an extended network. I value these relationships and the opportunity to learn from my colleagues.

As the field of visual resources has moved from the era of the slide library to digital image management and visual literacy, I’ve been impressed by the talents of our members who have innovated in image metadata, developed curricula, and researched new ways to digitize and present archival collections. At the Seattle joint conference, I encourage ARLIS/NA members to attend some sessions led by VRA members to see our current research and projects.

Although I’m not a current member of ARLIS/NA, my role as conference co-chair has introduced me to many of its leaders and members, which has been a pleasure. VRA and ARLIS/NA have a lot in common and I think this conference will underscore these natural connections between our groups.

I attended the 2nd Joint Conference in Minneapolis in 2011 and enjoyed the diversity of sessions and the opportunity to meet so many people from ARLIS/NA. I am proud that my hometown will host our organizations this time. This will be a big event, full of sessions and tours. I hope that attendees will make time to see the city and surrounding area. Our hotel, the Westin, is located within walking distance of the Washington State Ferries dock where you can take a quick trip across Puget Sound. Don’t limit yourself to downtown Seattle, and please ask any one of us on the local planning team if you need advice.