Art Documentation

The official bulletin of the Art Libraries Society of North America, 1982-present.

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). Art Documentation is published for ARLIS/NA by University of Chicago Press, which supports green open access for all of its journals. The subscription to Art Documentation is included as part of membership in ARLIS/NA.

Members-only Access

ARLIS/NA members may access Art Documentation electronically via a controlled access site:

Members-only Access to Art Documentation


Authors who wish to publish their work in Art Documentation should consult the Contributor Guidelines.

Authors may self-archive their own articles and make them freely available through institutional repositories after a one-year embargo. Authors may also post their articles in their published form on their personal or departmental web pages or personal social media pages, use the article in teaching or research presentations, provide single copies in print or electronic form to their colleagues, or republish the article in a subsequent work, subject to giving proper credit to the original publication of the article in Art Documentation, including reproducing the exact copyright notice as it appears in the journal.

Non-member Access to Journal

To purchase individual issues please contact University of Chicago Press customer service online; by email at; or via the phone at +1 877-705-1878 (toll-free, U.S. & Canada), or +1 773-753-3347 (International).

Tables of Contents

To search Art Documentation contents 1982-present, visit the journal home page with the University of Chigao Press.

2021: Volume 40

Issue 1 / Spring

2020: Volume 39

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2019: Volume 38

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2018: Volume 37

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2017: Volume 36

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2016: Volume 35

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2015: Volume 34

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

2014: Volume 33

Issue 1 / Spring
Issue 2 / Fall

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

Art Documentation vol. 40, no. 1 (Spring 2021)

AI and the Digitized Photoarchive: Promoting Access and Discoverability
Ellen Prokop, X.Y. Han, Vardan Papyan, David L. Donoho, and C. Richard Johnson Jr. 

Abstract- The Frick Art Reference Library in New York launched a pilot project with Stanford University, Cornell University, and the University of Toronto to develop an algorithm that applies a local classification system based on visual elements to the library’s digitized Photoarchive. As a test case, the Cornell/Toronto/Stanford team focused on a dataset of digital reproductions of North American paintings and drawings and employed recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning to produce automatic image classifiers. The results of this preliminary experiment suggest that automatic image classifiers have the potential to become powerful tools in metadata creation and image retrieval.

What an Image Is: The Ontological Gap between Researchers and Information Specialists
Anna Dahlgren and Karin Hansson

Abstract- This article investigates how images are understood inside and outside heritage institutions. It focuses on information specialists in libraries, archives, and museums and on a very specific yet substantial end-user group for visual heritage material: university scholars in the humanities. Based on a survey on the production and use of descriptive metadata, this study discloses that there is an ontological divide between these two groups, and that the extensive production of descriptive metadata does not match the needs and interest of researchers in the humanities, but rather other end users. An increased dialogue is needed between these two groups concerning what metadata should be attached to images. This potentially could lead to a broader and more extended scholarly use of visual heritage material.

"My Work Is Work": Artistic Research Practice and Knowledge Creation in the Work of Carmen Winant and Tomashi Jackson
Courtney Hunt and Michele Jennings  

Abstract- Many studies on the information-seeking habits of artists have been largely library-centric instead of considering the entire process of artists as integral to their research. This article examines the research behavior of artists Carmen Winant and Tomashi Jackson. The study recognizes the past literature on the information-seeking behavior of artists, framing it within literature by and for artists on artistic research practice. From this perspective, the authors analyze how research manifests into physical artwork in the cases of these two artists in order to situate the act of making as knowledge and research creation.

Stewardship in the Artistic Practice of the Collective Actions Group 
Hannah Marshall  

Abstract- The author examines the discursive creative practice of the conceptual performance art group Collective Actions (Kollektivnye deistviia, abbreviated “KD”) during the post-Stalinist Soviet era with a focus on the group’s activities between 1976 and 1981. For KD, documents evidencing and arising out of its performance-based actions co-constituted the works rather than merely representing and documenting them. Subsequent acts to preserve and present these documents for unknown future audiences represent the introduction of stewardship as part of the group’s art practice. This article traces the development of this stewardship practice by reviewing the role of documents in three of the group’s significant early actions and examining the group’s multi-volume self-published history Trips Out of Town. The author argues that compiling the first volume of Trips Out of Town in 1980 codified KD’s interest in the veracity of documents and a desire to use its “unofficial” art practice to explore the relationship between documents, archiving, and institutionalization.

Editing Wikipedia, Discovering Inquiry: Collaboration in a Modern and Contemporary African Art History Course             
Maggie Murphy, Elizabeth Perrill, Alexandra Gaal, Christina Kelly, and Maya Simmons  

Abstract- The authors discuss a scaffolded, semester-long Wikipedia-editing project developed by a librarian and art history professor for a modern and contemporary African art history seminar. Their goals for the project were to introduce critical information literacy concepts into discussions about art information on the Wikipedia platform with their students, as well as to encourage them to see themselves as information creators. While course participants were tasked with adding research-based content that complied with Wikipedia’s point of view, they also generated many ideas for scholarly inquiry into their chosen artist’s life and work—a process with which undergraduate students, as emerging art historians, often struggle when they are assigned a traditional paper.

Reimagining Canadian Art Practices and Art Collections: From Research to Publication, and Presentation to Promotion  
Jenna Dufour, Sara Ellis, and John Latour

Abstract- The authors examine two Canadian art initiatives that librarians from Canadian universities have undertaken at individual and institutional levels. The first project addresses an in-progress artists’ biographical dictionary that focuses on an under-documented form of art practice and situates the dictionary within an evolving landscape of biographical art reference resources in Canada. The second initiative reports on a collection management project that assembles essential Canadiana print material and recontextualizes it with renewed visibility and access. These projects are supplemented with an extensive literature review by a third art librarian that parses the library and information science literature related to these two topics and focuses on Canadian scholarship, where available, as a frame of reference. Together, the three sections of this article enrich the bio-bibliographic information about, and exhibition histories of, Canadian artists while improving access to essential research publications and collections.

The Information Needs and Sources of Arab Visual Artists         
Nada Karami Zreik, Madjid Ihadjadene, and Anna Lezon Rivière  

Abstract- This article presents the results of a quantitative empirical study on the information needs and sources of Arab visual artists as they engage in creative work and associated tasks. The study was conducted using an online survey published in three languages—English, French, and Arabic. The survey was completed by seventy-two artists from several Arab countries. It was designed using the methodology from William Hemmig’s 2009 study, and the convergences and divergences between both studies are presented. The analysis of demographic data allowed the authors to establish that the distribution of sources also varied depending on the population’s age and gender. The results of this study are both theoretical—through the replication and the comparison of two studies—and practical—through the possibility of providing recommendations to Arab art institutions and libraries.

COVID-19 Pandemic: Architecture Librarians Respond
Rose Orcutt, Lucy Campbell, Maya Gervits, Barbara Opar, and Kathy Edwards

Abstract- Librarianship is a resourceful profession, but COVID-19 created new challenges for everyone, especially those working in public service with architecture students and faculty. Unlike in STEM disciplines, many architectural materials remain print-based, which impacted the quick change faculty needed to make to online teaching and classroom instruction. It impeded timely reference by even seasoned librarians and student access to necessary resources to complete their assignments. With libraries closed, librarians innovated and soldiered on, ordering new and different resources, applying new methods, learning new tools, and taking advantage of new vendor access models. This article documents the initial impact of COVID-19 on architecture libraries and librarians, supplemented by survey input from architecture librarians and faculty, and suggests strategies for navigating an uncertain future.

CSU Dreamin’: A Case Study of Collaboration across the California State University System with Arts, Architecture, and Performing Arts Librarians 
Kai Alexis Smith, Ann Roll, and Laurel Bliss           

Abstract- In summer 2017, the California State University (CSU) system implemented a shared unified library management system. This united the catalog records for the physical and electronic collections from all twenty-three campuses into one system. While multiple university systems collaborate on collection building and share cataloging and discovery systems, few studies have explored what challenges subject librarians across a system face on a regular basis and how communication and partnerships can improve access and services. This study explores such a collaboration among arts, architecture, and performing arts librarians across the CSU system.

Art Documentation Editors

Judy Dyki

Dir of Acad Programs & Library

Art Documentation Editor

Eileen Markson


Art Documentation Copy Editor