International Delegate Report: ARLIS UK & Ireland Annual Conference 2019, Glasgow

International Delegate Report: ARLIS UK &Ireland Annual Conference 2019, Glasgow

Stefanie Hilles, University of Miami

This summer, I had the pleasure of both presenting at and attending ARLIS/UK & Ireland’s 50th Anniversary Conference in Glasgow on July 15th-17th as an International Delegate. Although active in ARLIS/NA, this was my first ARLIS/UK & Ireland conference and my first opportunity to meet, network, and learn from my art librarian collogues overseas. I left Scotland energized by the inspiring speakers and eager to implement new techniques at Miami University, my home institution in the United States.


Much of the conference programming centered around decolonizing the art library and diversity, including the powerful keynote given by Dr. David Dibosa, Re-worlding our knowledge. His address discussed the many ways that colonialist power structures are built into knowledge systems and how university libraries can work to re-balance these inequalities. It is evident by the number of presentations at the conference dedicated to decolonization and diversity that art librarians are addressing these issues in concrete ways, however, we have more work to do. Dr. Dibosa’s keynote was both assurance we are on the right track and a call to action.


In addition to the emphasis on decolonization, my other takeaways from the conference centered around instruction. My research into the information seeking strategies of studio artist students had revealed a marked preference for serendipitous browsing and I was wondering how I could promote the art library as a place of discovery. How does one teach the skill of browsing and, moreover, how does one foster the idea within students that the library is a place for browsing? These questions were addressed by Viv Eades and Adam Ramejkis, from University of the Arts London, in their excellent workshop Creative Library Research: experiencing theory, held at the Glasgow School of Art Library. During the workshop, participants became students; we browsed for art books based on a theme, swapped them with another participant, and then discussed how our new book related to our original theme. This exercise was exactly what I was looking for, a way of creatively engaging art students’ browsing with library resources. The new activity was met with enthusiasm by my art faculty and I will be implementing it in the classroom for an introductory art studio class this year. To assess the results, I am going to use a method described by Laura Williams, from the University of Huddersfield, where she has students draw their perceptions about libraries both before and after the instruction session to measure change. I’m excited to implement these ideas and believe they will engage studio art students with the library in more creative and authentic ways.


I would like to thank ARLIS/UK & Ireland for the International Delegate Award. I enjoyed meeting and learning from all of you.


Stefanie Hilles

Arts and Humanities Librarian

Wertz Art and Architecture Library

Miami University

Oxford, OH