Friday, January 12, 2007

SAIC: small space, large collection

The School of the Art Institute has a small library, but there are plenty of resources. They have hundreds of art-specific periodicals and thousands of art books. Other special materials include a catalog of sound effects for film students and rare film reels. It is a wonderful advantage to have the film reels because any of the staff are allowed access to them, and library staff will set the film up for them. Being an academic library like our own at Elmhurst College, it is interesting to see the difference in size of space and collection because of the areas of study. We have more areas of study and less magazines, where they have less areas of study and have more specific and more numerous magazine subscriptions. Unfortunately, the library is growing faster than the space that they have. They just got more space this summer, and already things are overcrowded. This new space is a new found luxury because now the books that are needed are simply down the hall instwad of a walk across the street. For a library in an art school, things are very sparse-looking, but that is once again due to lack of space.

The best part of the library was their collection of "artist books." These are not books containing pictures of artwork, such as some of the books contained within the actual library, but rather books that are themselves works of art. This was the most interesting part of our tour. The "books" were made of odd materials; one book had been a shoe, and another was embroidered on a piece of fabric, and each contained a different message that the author wanted the viewer to figure out for themselves.

The librarians in the SAIC were very nice. It is definitely interesting to hear all the different types of jobs that one can go through before becoming a librarian at such a specific type of library, which was definitly the case with the library at the SAIC. She was extremely knowledgeable and enjoyed what she was talking about. It is unfortunate that such a prestigious school has such a small library. However due to the location of the school being in the city, a lack of space is more understandable than if the school was ina suburban setting. Students do benefit from the I-Share catalog, which allows them to borrow materials from other school libraries, which is definitely a perk when they have such a small library at their school. However, if a student is looking for a specific art-related book that their library does not have, it may be hard to find through I-Share.

Links:
http://www.saic.edu/degrees_resources/libraries/index.html
The SAIC's official website

Photos: see below.

8 comments:

Liz said...

Reading your blog reminded me of all of the fantastic resources that the SAIC had, such as the sound effects collection. I was similarly affected by the specificity of the library to the school, and how one campus library can compare to another, like ours. I loved looking at all of the periodicals and resources available for the art students and how they were concentrated in these fields. In terms of the small space, I liked that you recognized the city setting and the resulting lack of space in general. I personally forgot about this limitation because of all of the awesome things in the library.

Jessica said...

I agree with Liz, it's amazing how such a tiny space can hold such an amazing collection of materials specialized for fine arts students. What a great resourse, I couldn't even imagine having an entire library about biology at our school! I would be in heaven!

Maria said...

I was also surprised at how small this library was! I had always pictured the School of the Art Institute to be a prestigious school with grand architecture and spacious resources. However, unless you are the Harold Washington Library, that seems difficult to acheive in crowded downtown Chicago. I could tell during our tour that the librarian was also not pleased with their lack of space...perhaps even a tiny bit bitter. However, I do not blame her...the School of the Art Institute deserves to have a bit more space. Overall, I was impressed with this library and how it covered every imaginable form of art!

Libby said...

When I think of the School of the Art Institute, I think of the Art Institute itself. A grand, beautiful building with space full of one of a kind pieces of artwork. So when we walked in to the SAIC library I was pretty surprised. At first I was definitely underwhelmed. But then I remembered what this library's purpose is. This library is for artists and art students. And really, it has everything that they need. Also, I had to remind myself of the location. It's downtown Chicago and any form of real estate is a hot commodity, so they've really got a decent space. I agreed with the blog on the art books. I had never seen or heard of anything like this. I really appreciated that we got to handle them as well. So when considering the space, the location and the subject, this really was a pretty nice library.

Jenn said...

My first impression of the library was that it is unimpressive, unorganized, and small. However, the library specifically caters to the artistic and creative needs of the students, with periodicals and magazines, books, and picture files; soon, I began to understand how useful the Flaxman Library probably is to the SAIC students. I think it is interesting that such a small library has available viewing rooms for old film reels, which can be reserved for students’ use. The best part of the visit to the Flaxman Library was seeing the book art/artist’s book collection. I really enjoy seeing art connected with literature, and the collection demonstrates that relationship in numerous ways.

mercedez091 said...

Even thought the SAIC was small I really enjoyed this visit. I thought it was cozy and very inviting. I really liked all of the magazines and periodicals that were available for the students. I dont think that the size of the library reflects the what the school thinks of the library. Even though it is small the library still has a wonderful assortment of materials that the students will need.

Michele said...

My first impression was that of, 'Is this all that there is?'. I also thought the librarians would be pretentious art geeks who think we're not worthy of learning about art. Both ended up being ridiculous; the librarians were wonderful people, and the collection that the art institute library had made me very excited. I'm kindof a film geek and so looking at all of the magazines on cinema, and the books, and the film reels, and the sound effects made me a little giddy. I loved it and hope I can remember where it is for the next time I go downtown.

Kiley A said...

Even though it was somewhat cramped at times and was not as large as Chicago Public Library I enjoyed this visit alot. The material they had was so interesting and I was surprised at how much they had for such a small space.