RE: Framed Art collections?

Anne H. Ross (
Wed, 27 Aug 1997 08:54:39 -0500 (EST)

We used to circulate framed art. At it's height, I'd say we had about 220
pieces of varying sizes. No sculpture. We closed the collection for a
variety of reasons about two years ago. Circulation was for 60 days, no
renewals. I'd say on the average about half the pieces were out at any
one time (including long term overdues and loans to staff).

Some of the major reasons were/are:

(1) access to the items - we only had framed art at our downtown main
library and nearby parking has become increasingly difficult. It is quite
the trek for someone with two oversized pieces of art to get out of the
building and across a street (or two) to their car with the items.

Generally, pieces got banged up in the process.

(2) it was mostly so old it was embarassing (to me, at least). Cost was a
factor in buying new items. To buy them from a framed art vendor was just
so expensive. We could have purchased locally (among other things) for
just so much less but that wasn't an option that was open to me. I think
our per unit cost the last time we purchased was $150 to $200. I can get
alot more bang for my budget buck in other ways.

We did limit people to two framed art pieces but we had alot of transients
check out the art and it wasn't returned (at least the better pieces
weren't returned).

(3) space - frankly, as we acquired new types of media (compact discs,
videocassettes, etc.) that were much more popular we needed the space for
things that seemed more important to our customers.

(4) customer base - which ties in directly with (3). Our customer base was
mostly staff (who, despite my efforts, signed out the better pieces and
kept checking them out so they were not available to customers) and
transients (who had temporary addresses and often did not return
materials). It just wasn't cost effective.

I have extremely mixed feelings about library's circulating framed art (and
not from a non-art point of view, we still have an in-house gallery, a
large permanent art collection, etc. etc.). It's a valuable and
interesting service but not valuable enough considering the space it takes
up and the other factors I've mentioned.

What I would love to do (ha!) would involve a partnership with the local
Museum of Art and have them rent out original art (yes, that might involve
a fee or a deposit) so that people might be exposed to the great local and
regional artists. I can't really justify the staff time (and expenses) to
do that here, though.


Anne Ross, Head
Fine Arts/Audio-Visual Depts.
Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System