Online inspiration in the American Craft Council Library digital archives

I work as a librarian in two different jobs, one of which is for the American Craft Council Library. The ACC Library has many resources available to the public, if you are able to visit our location in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There are books, periodicals, exhibition catalogs, and artists files (possibly including photographs, slides, resumes, exhibition catalogs, and more). The ACC Library is also home to the archives of the American Craft Council (1941-present), Museum of Contemporary Crafts/American Craft Museum (1956-1990), World Crafts Council (1964-present) and the Craft Students League of New York (1932-2005).

For those who can’t visit, I’d like to introduce the American Craft Council Library Digital Collections. In brief, they contain ACC’s magazine Craft Horizons (now called American Craft) in fulltext from 1941-1965; selected photographs and documents from ACC conferences, exhibitions, and fairs; ACC newsletters; and photographs from the artist files. As of this writing, there are approximately 5,000 items in the digital archives, only a small percentage of the physical archives, but the ACC Library is continually increasing its online content.

The software used for the digital archives, CONTENTdm, is powerful, but not immediately intuitive. To that end, the two of us who work in the library made a series of four videos, each less than five minutes long, to describe the digital archives and how to search. CONTENTdm is able to search the text of the documents as well as the description of the item that is entered for each item. It is well worth your time to view these videos if you are at all interested in finding inspiration for your work in craft history, or if you simply would like to read early Craft Horizons in their entirety. There was no other craft magazine in the United States in the early years of the magazine, so this is an invaluable historical resource.

What can you find? This search for jewelry images (including the terms “jewelry,” “necklace,” “earrings,” or “bracelet”) returns about 200 photos of great shapes and designs. This 1975 knitted silver wire bracelet by Arline Fisch shows her early work in this media. Mary Walker Phillips made this macrame how-to, illustrated in 59 photos.

The ACC Library highlights finds in the digital collections every week with the blog post series “Throwback Thursday.” You can find out about Museum of Contemporary Crafts exhibitions, single works by artists, and more. Please let me know if you have any questions, or feel free to contact the ACC Library.

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