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Perspectives In Circulation

Yes, There's a Library Here!

Meet Thomas J. Watsons Library's Instruction Teams

Mar 15, 2023

Wall of Met publications

“I didn’t know there was a library here.”

Watson Library staff are often greeted with these words by a curious museum visitor who happens upon our entrance inside the Velez Blanco Patio, Gallery 534.

Thankfully, our friendly and helpful staff will provide the inquisitive visitor with a brief overview of Watson Library and the services we provide.

Front entrance to Watson Library

Welcome to Watson Library! Photo by Amy Hamilton

Watson Library is the main research library at The Met and is one of the most comprehensive art libraries in the world.  As our website states, “The Library's mission is to support the research activities of the Museum staff and to offer access and outstanding services to an international community of students and scholars.”

Our library staff are dedicated to fulfilling this commitment of outstanding service to Met staff and visiting researchers. An essential part of this commitment is our dedicated instruction team. This team is comprised of three small teams who perform outreach, provide library orientations and tours, and provide instruction related to research and library resources. Each team focuses on one specific group of researchers: Met staff, Met volunteers, and visiting researchers.

Library staff in the Reading Room

Watson Library’s instruction team that provides library orientations, tours, and classes for Met staff, fellows, interns, and volunteers. Standing, left to right: Dana Keith, Mike Cummings, Amy Hamilton, Scott Carlton, Robyn Fleming, Jessica Ranne-Cardona. Photo by John Lindaman

Our staff instruction team focuses on Met research staff, including fellows and interns. This team offers individual library orientations and tours to new Met research staff. We also provide group orientations to each new class of Museum fellows and interns. Library orientations for Met staff usually include a review of library policies and resources, a library tour, and sometimes even an exciting tour of the closed library stacks. Our staff can provide individualized service, such as tailoring part of the orientation to cover library resources that complement the staff member’s area of research. Mike Cummings, Assistant Museum Library for Systems and Information Technology, also offers informative training sessions on Zotero, a reference management software that many staff find useful.

Our volunteer instruction team focuses on The Met’s dedicated and passionate team of volunteers. Met volunteers have a variety of roles in the museum, including as tour guides to The Met’s storied collection of over 490,000 objects. Library classes for volunteers focus on Met objects research, library access and policies, and e-resources such as Oxford Art Online and JSTOR.

Screenshot of library's OPAC

Browse through Watson Library’s extensive e-resources. Screenshot by the author

Library staff in the Reading Room

Watson Library’s instruction team for groups of visiting researchers from local and international institutions.  Standing, left to right: Tina Lidogoster, Jared Ash, Melissa Raymond, Amy Hamilton; kneeling: John Lindaman. Photo by Paige Silva

Our third instruction team is focused on groups of students from local and sometimes international institutions. This team has recently provided orientations to Bard Graduate Center, Hunter College, NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, The Savannah College of Art and Design, The School of Visual Arts, and Sotheby’s Institute of Art. In addition to a brief library orientation, these students receive visitor library cards that they can use to request books to consult on their next visit to Watson Library. Some class visits also include a viewing of rare books from our collection selected by Jared Ash, Florence and Herbert Irving Museum Librarian for Collections.

A visiting group looking at special collections material

Jared Ash, Florence and Herbert Irving Museum Librarian for Collections, shows a selection of special collections materials during a class visit from the Sophomore Graphic Design class from the School of Visual Arts. Photo by Len Small

Wall of Met publications

These Met exhibition catalogs, organized by year, are part of Watson Library’s browsable reference collection. Photo by the author

Are you a new or current Met staff member who would like a library orientation or refresher? Please email us to schedule. Are you a professor interested in a class visit for your undergraduate or graduate class? Please complete this form to request a class visit. Individual visiting researchers can register for a library account here.

Check out our FAQ’s for Visitors and numerous research guides which can be particularly helpful for our visiting researchers. If you are interested in how Watson Library came to be, there are several captivating blog posts by my colleagues on this rich and fascinating history.

In addition to our instruction teams, our Circulation and Research Assistance Desks are staffed daily. On your first visit as a visiting researcher, our desk staff will provide a brief, yet informative, library orientation for you.

Two library staff at the circulation desk

Circulation and research assistance staff, Fredy Rivera and Scott Carlton, are ready to assist. Photo by author

We look forward to welcoming you to Watson Library!

About the contributors

Assistant Museum Librarian for Reader Services