Art Documentation

Art Documentation is the official bulletin of the Art Libraries Society of North America, 1982-present. It includes articles and information relevant to art librarianship and visual resources curatorship. Since 1996, it has been published twice yearly (spring and fall). The subscription to Art Documentation is included as part of membership in ARLIS/NA. Authors who wish to publish their work in Art Documentation should consult the Contributor Guidelines.

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Tables of Contents

To search Art Documentation contents 1982-present, use the LISTA database, provided by Ebsco.

2014: Volume 33

Issue 1 / Spring

2013: Volume 32

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2012: Volume 31

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2011: Volume 30

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2010: Volume 29

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2009: Volume 28

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2008: Volume 27

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall



Current Issue Abstracts

The Tenacious Book, Part 1: The Curious State of Art and Architecture Library Collections in a Digital Era
D. Vanessa Kam, University of British Columbia
Abstract—What is the state of collection development in art and architecture libraries today? To address this question, the author interviewed library professionals working in prominent academic and museum libraries in the United States and Canada. While many other disciplines hold massive amounts of digital content, the print format still plays a dominant role in these collections. This situation poses challenges and demands special considerations for library spaces, for devising strategies to transition into an increasingly digital future, and for demonstrating the research value of print collections. This is part one of a two-part article in this issue of Art Documentation.

The Tenacious Book, Part 2: Publishers’ Views on the Once and Future State of the Art Book
D. Vanessa Kam, University of British Columbia

Abstract—In an effort to provide a more complete description of the state of collecting in art and architecture libraries today, the author interviewed five publishers for their supply-side perspectives. Based in Europe and the United States, the publishers provide a glimpse into how their programs are functioning today, the challenges they are facing, and the digital content they have produced or would like to produce in the future. The interviews also captured their visions about the potential for new digital content to animate visual art discourse, and what elements of the book—and indeed the experience of reading art books—they would like preserved. This is part
two of a two-part article in this issue of Art Documentation.

Art E-Books for Academic Libraries: A Snapshot
Jennifer O. Yao, The New School

Abstract—The author presents a study which attempts to measure the availability to academic libraries of e-book content in the disciplines of art, architecture, and design. The methodologies used in the study include analyzing the e-books listed for subscription or purchase by academic
libraries through EBSCO, JSTOR, and ProQuest and reviewing fifty-four publishers’ websites for references to e-books. The study found limited access to e-books in these fields and underscores the importance of continued availability of print books for art, architecture, and design. The
article also provides guidance as to the types of art e-books that may currently be found through EBSCO, JSTOR, and ProQuest.

Creating Alternative Art Libraries
Ksenia Cheinman

Abstract—Informed by the proliferation of alternative art spaces with libraries and reading rooms such as Half Letter Press Reading Room in Copenhagen, Reanimation Library in Brooklyn, Midway Contemporary Art Library in Minneapolis, Artexte in Montreal, Close Up Library in
London, Contemporary Art Gallery library in Vancouver, Fillip Library and Reading Room in Vancouver, and Centre A Library in Vancouver, the author explores the educational value of alternative art library spaces and provides strategies for the successful creation of such spaces. While the article’s main purpose is to challenge and offer a different perspective to art professionals, librarians may also find the creative strategies used for promoting these library resources informative for more traditional libraries.

Results in the Cloud: Using Web Storage for Auction House Price Lists
Dan Lipcan, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Erika Hauser, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Abstract—The authors describe an effort led by The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Thomas J. Watson Library, in collaboration with the Frick Art Reference Library, the National Gallery of Art Library, the Getty Research Institute Library, and the Ingalls Library at the Cleveland Museum of
Art, to archive thousands of auction catalog price list files. Previous locally developed solutions to save and link this data to auction catalog biblio-graphic records meant the time-consuming effort was duplicated across several libraries. In 2011, The Metropolitan Museum opened an Amazon Simple Storage (S3) account to store its price list, developed a simple convention for linking price list files with bibliographic records based on OCLC numbers, and made the account available to other libraries so they could divide the responsibility for archiving the price lists.

History, Identity, and Twenty-First Century Skills: Experiments in Institutional Blogging
Sarah Osborne Bender, The Phillips Collection

Abstract —The author describes how The Phillips Collection, a small museum of modern and contemporary art, desired to share its reputation as a welcoming and comfortable environment with remote audiences by launching a grassroots-style blog. The blog helps the museum achieve
strategic priorities and provides a forum in which voices from a variety of experience levels can talk about art, blurring the line between expert and novice perspectives. Simultaneously, the blog creates a multimedia archive of museum activity. Within a few short years the blog has become a cornerstone of communication strategy and a space in which staff, partners, and the public creatively develop their relationship to the institution together.

Art Gallery Archives: Professionalization of a Commercial Sector
Lynda Bunting, Blum & Poe
Virginia Allison, L.A. Louver
Ben Lee Ritchie Handler, Gagosian Gallery

Abstract—The authors describe the recent professionalization of archival practices in three large commercial art galleries based in Los Angeles: Gagosian Gallery, Blum & Poe, and L.A. Louver. Within the last three years, each of these galleries hired for the first time a dedicated, full-time MLIS archivist. The three pioneering Los Angeles gallery archivists share their collective experience of working in the commercial art world. Topics include how the archivist role fits into a commercial gallery organization, the challenges of working with nontraditional collections, and the merits and value of such collections for the long-term documentation and preservation of the contemporary art world.

Digital Scrolling Paintings at the University of Chicago: From Pedagogical Tool to Open Scholarly Resource
Amanda Rybin, University of Chicago

Abstract—The Digital Scrolling Paintings Project at the University of Chicago ( began as a specific faculty request: How do we display images of scrolling paintings in the classroom when the tools at hand cannot accurately represent these works of art? Answering
this question became a multi-year process initiated by the Center for the Art of East Asia in consultation with numerous campus partners. It resulted in the creation of a new web-based tool and, ultimately, a publicly accessible resource for scholars of East Asian art. In collaboration with campus and worldwide museum partners, the Visual Resources Center assisted in developing the Digital Scrolling Paintings Project. The author describes how this faculty request evolved into a highly collaborative endeavor with potential applications that could go well beyond the initial intent of the project.

From Hieroglyphs to Hashtags: The Information-Seeking Behaviors of Contemporary Egyptian Artists
Shannon Marie Robinson, Denison University

Abstract—Little is published about the information-seeking habits of contemporary Egyptian artists, a community of creative intellectuals at the forefront of the current political and cultural revolution in the Middle East. Using Susie Cobbledick’s and William S. Hemmig’s frameworks for understanding the information-seeking patterns of artists, this article interprets the responses of young Egyptian artists through a phenomeno-graphic analysis. The author presents the results of in-depth interviews with eight Cairo-based artists, carefully examining five types of artists’ information needs.

Incorporating Technology: Using Tablets and Apps as Reference and Teaching Tools in Architecture School Libraries
Cathryn Copper, Woodbury University

Abstract—Today’s world is an interactive one in which technology is used to discover and share information, and research is no longer limited to books and databases. Instead, architecture, urban studies, and augmented reality apps can help librarians answer reference questions, assist in instruction, and create a more interactive learning environment. The author discusses why tablets and apps should be integrated in education and at the reference desk, describes how they are used at Woodbury University School of Architecture, and recommends the top apps for architectural education.

Collecting Library Resources for Video Game Design Students: An Information Behavior Study
Olivia Miller

Abstract—Academic programs in video game design blend artistic and technical prowess with a knowledge of the field to train future creators of this form of entertainment. This study investigates the information-seeking behavior of a group of eleven video game design undergraduates at the Savannah College of Art and Design utilizing focus-group interviews and qualitative analysis.1 Major findings include their requirement for technique and how-to information related to computer programs such as ZBrush and Unreal Development Kit as well as a need for inspiration and specific visual references. Students rely heavily on web and social resources for trouble- shooting assistance and to stay current about new developments or artists in the field. Based on the findings, the author offers recommendations to academic librarians for collection development and service to this unique user group.