This summer I attended the Summer Educational Institute Workshop (SEI), in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. SEI is a joint project of the Art Libraries Society of North America and the Visual Resources Association Foundation. It seeks to provide information professionals with a substantive educational and professional development opportunity focused on digital images, the information and experience needed to stay current in a rapidly changing field, and the opportunity to create and be part of a network of supportive colleagues.
The workshop is an intensive three and a half day workshop featuring a curriculum that specifically addresses the requirements of today’s visual resources and image management professionals.
Similar to Rare Book School and other continuing education opportunities, this workshop is a bit on the pricey side, but there are a couple funding opportunities, one of which includes six Samuel H. Kress Scholarships for SEI. The scholarship helps to cover tuition, accommodations, and minor incidentals.
Echoing off of Jasmine’s post, I have added my reasons and experiences of attending SEI.
Diversifying my skill set: Most of the sessions offered were topics that I have yet to deal with in my school work. My favorite workshop was Bringing It All Together: Project, People, and Budgets. As a group exercise, participants were given a sample library grant proposal and told to act as if you were a pre-reviewer for the granting agency. We went through four different parts of reviewing and critiquing the proposal. The exercise was constructive and I was able to hear professionals who have written and/or reviewed grants give their opinion and statements about the proposal.
Gaining experiences that are unavailable in my program: Similar to the Bringing It All Together session, Getting a Digital Project Started is something that has yet to be a part of my curriculum at school. This session had two parts, one part were we thought about a current project that we were working on in school or in the professional world and to visual the steps with physical items. The instructor in this session gave us little ziplock bags full of pipe cleaners, sticky dots, fuzz balls, wire, magnets and so on. We were instructed to visualize how we would complete a project. It was so interesting to see how people think when they use actual materials to plan a project. For the second part, our instructor asked us similar questions but we had to answer them in a written form. Afterward, the group noticed that there was a difference between the two methods of project planning, part one being more interactive and open while part two seemed to be more of your typical project planning method by listing steps and critiquing the process.
Hands-on!: There were several opportunities to try out software such as Adobe Bridge and ArtStor Shared Shelf. Like I mentioned above, one of the sessions used crafting materials to plan projects. Instructors also provided handouts, exercise worksheets and mock drafts of proposals.
Learning from professionals who are active in the field: I thoroughly enjoyed being able to listen professionals speak from all various fields of the profession. For example, there were participants from art museums, universities, historical societies, national archives and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It was refreshing to not be completely surrounded by students in my program.
Time limitations: Though the workshop was only three and half days, it was very intense and took place for most of the day but was definitely do-able, even if you are a student.
Professional development: There were several opportunities to gain some professional development. The room that we were in was conducive to learning and mingling with others. There were also optional mixers and activities to meet others outside of the workshop hours.