OKBN * ARLIS/NL is an alliance of Dutch art and reference librarians who work for libraries or institutions specialized in the field of (the history of) the visual arts and architecture. In 1982 the first (informal) meetings were organised. Eight librarians met to share experiences and to gain in wisdom. Representatives of the affiliated institutions have met three or four times a year since, each meeting being hosted by a different member institution.

In 1995 it was decided to form an officially registered society and in February 1996 the society OKBN * ARLIS/NL was founded. Its members are the affiliated institutions, each with one vote, and private members: information specialists who have a special interest in this discipline, but who are not entitled to vote. The board of OKBN, chosen from the society members, counts no less than five members.

Its membership includes the libraries of prominent academic institutions, such as university and museum libraries, the libraries of art academies and those of specialized institutions, such as the Rijksdienst voor de Monumentenzorg (State Service for the Conservation of Monuments and Historic Buildings and Sites) and the Nederlands Architectuurinstituut (NAi, Netherlands Architectural Institute).  See ‘Leden‘ for detailed information about the members.

By organising meetings and workshops about common points of interest and the maintanance of a website and listserv for its membership, OKBN encourages of the exchange of disciplinary information and the collaboration in certain projects. Cataloguing, agreements about collection strategies and the acquisition of expensive publications and are permanent items on the agenda.

OKBN acts as mouth piece for other national and international organisations as ARLIS/Be, ARLIS/NA, ARLIS/UK and Ireland and the IFLA Section of Art Libraries. With success OKBN * ARLIS/NL organised the two conferences of the IFLA section of Art Libraries in Amsterdam, and some symposia.


  • Art libraries and art librarianship in The Netherlands. Special issue of Art Libraries Journal 12 (1987) no 1.
  • Koos Wynia, in collaboration with Geurt Imanse, Sophie Pabst, Hellen Scholten, Else van der Vossen, Maggy Wishaupt (eds.), Art periodicals: papers of the 2nd European Conference of Art Libraries of IFLA. Amsterdam 1988.
  • Geert-Jan Koot. “10 years of ARLIS in The Netherlands”. Art Libraries Journal 17 (1992) 27-30.
  • Geert-Jan Koot, “What’s wrong with museum libraries? The impact of electronic developments on museum librarians”. Lezing conferentie ARLIS/UK & Ireland The changing agenda for art libraries, Cambridge juli 2000.
  • Michiel Nijhoff, “Museum Libraries : From Hidden Treasures to Treasured Information Centers”, Paper 64th IFLA General Conference Amsterdam, August 16 – August 21, 1998.
  • Wim Verbei, “Bibliotheek Rijksmuseum staat open voor bredere taak : van educatief naar informatief”, in: Informatie Professional : vakblad voor informatiewerkers jrg. 4 (2000) no. 5 (mei), pp. 24-29.

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