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.

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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
Issue 2 / Fall

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. 2 (Fall 2021)

Artist Catalogs: An Approach to the Foundations of an Artistic Genre
Salvador Haro González

Abstract- Since the 1960s, artists’ books have become an essential form of contemporary art. In this context, artists have also used their exhibition catalogs as forms of artistic expression. Within this framework of creative practices, this article delves into the characteristics that could lead to the definition of artists’ catalogs as a specific artistic genre. The concepts of artists’ books and exhibition catalogs are compared to discuss the ambiguities and blurred lines that make a precise delimitation difficult. The combination of both typologies is analyzed through a series of works by artists in the field of catalogs as works of art. Despite the great variability that emerges from the different perspectives through which artists’ catalogs have been conceived and produced, some common features come to light. These common features, as well as an examination of the functions and uses associated with artists’ catalogs, pave the way for answering the crucial questions as to whether these publications—as the works of art they are—are still catalogs and if they might even be considered as a differentiated genre of artists’ books.

Why Have There Been No Great Art Libraries: The Role of Radical Cataloging in the Reassessment of Art History
Janna Singer-Baefsky

Abstract- During the past year, there has been a global reckoning with systemic racism, misogyny, transphobia, and xenophobia. As institutions look inward at the ways they can dismantle ongoing systems of oppression, academia must also look at how it codifies these ideologies through Eurocentric canons. Art history is one such field. However, as a highly interdisciplinary subject, it presents a unique foundation on which to restructure these frameworks. This article dissects the role that cataloging plays in reinforcing the canon within art libraries and how a radical cataloging approach can diversify research and representation within art history as a field.

[This article is a revision of a paper presented at the “New Voices in the Profession” session during the 49th annual ARLIS/NA conference held virtually May 11–13, 2021.]

The Contingency and Fiction of Performance Art Documentation: Theory and Practice
Małgorzata Kaźmierczak

Abstract- This article considers the contingency of performance art documentation: how an accidentally acquired image or deliberately created documentation influences one’s memory of performance art events and creates a fictional action that exists only in one’s imagination. This phenomenon is illustrated with examples of widely known, iconic performances as well as primary sources, such as interviews with artists and documentalists. Consideration and analysis of whether technological improvements change the contingent and fictional nature of documentation are also included. Finally, the article analyzes the problem from both the perspective of a researcher, as well as an experienced individual who has documented hundreds of performance art pieces.

Computer Vision for Visual Arts Collection: Looking at Algorithmic Bias, Transparency, and Labor
Jessica Craig

Abstract- The implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is becoming commonplace for visual arts libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs). In particular, computer vision, a distinct form of machine learning, has been used in arts-based LAMs to automate digital image analysis through trained algorithms to increase metadata description and collection accessibility. Linkage of LAMs with AI may seem logical, as the emerging technologies are well suited to process and analyze sizable amounts of information, such as the data held by large collection repositories. However, as interest in computer vision develops among those in the library and information science (LIS) field, there are important concerns to address. Machine-learning algorithms used in computer vision are known to reflect bias, lack transparency, and significantly impact labor. How can LAMs, as institutions dedicated to equity and access, confront these potentially harmful aspects of computer vision? Through analysis of recent case studies, accounts, and literature, this article proposes that visual arts LAMs can mitigate algorithmic bias by promoting transparency of computer vision models, demonstrating caution, and establishing accountability. The development of capable workforces in LIS through the implementation of education and collaboration is also critical to alleviate outsourcing and temporary labor.

[This article is a revision of the paper that won the 2021 Gerd Muehsam Award. The award recognizes excellence in a paper written by a graduate student on a topic relevant to art librarianship or visual resources curatorship.]

The Work of Art in the Age of Neural Reproduction
Ana Peraica

Abstract- Art historians have used repro-photography as a tool since the mid-nineteenth century, often without critically addressing limits of the technical medium. Today, when photo-documentary material is used in automated analysis, image production errors produced by limits of the medium may be built into machine learning, generative adversarial networks (GANs), and convolutional neural networks (CNNs). This article focuses on the uses of photographic reproductions of the works of Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), including visual analysis of photographs, technical analysis of the “Rembrandt portrait” style, and projects that employ reproductions in the architecture of neural networks—these all define the new cultural shift generative reproduction brings to visual documentation. The article advocates for a critical approach to photo-documentation in the arts.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cloth: The Collection Management and Descriptive Cataloging of Publishers’ Bindings in Research Libraries
Chris Fripp

Abstract- Most research libraries house substantial quantities of publishers’ bindings, but it is not clear how well they accommodate them from a collection management or descriptive cataloging perspective. To gain some insight on this issue, a survey was carried out across four research libraries in the United Kingdom: the Wellcome Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum, University College London, and Senate House Library (University of London). This article presents and discusses the survey’s findings and makes several recommendations designed to improve professional practice in this area.

Explorations in Library Design: A Study of Master of Architecture Thesis Projects
Cathryn Copper

Abstract- The author analyzes library design through the lens of architecture students graduating between 2015 and 2019. Master of Architecture thesis projects were examined to identify trends in the design and program of libraries. The study included projects from schools accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board that were available electronically in institutional repositories. Design trends noted in the theses include a connection to nature, natural light, courtyards, bridges, split-levels, mazes, and dispersed layouts. Program trends identified include spaces for books, galleries, transportation, technology, makerspaces, storytelling, meditation, and social activities.

Core or Not: Redefining the AASL List of Periodicals
Rose Orcutt, Kathy Edwards, Lucy Campbell, Barbara Ann Opar

Abstract- The purpose of a core list of periodicals is to organize and rank publications that correspond to unique information needs, while satisfying the definition and scope of a field of study. For the past twenty-five years, the Association of Architecture School Librarians’ Core List of Architecture Periodicals has served as a collection development guide for librarians supporting programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Compiled and vetted by professional librarians and architecture faculty, the list has also informally become an information resource assessment standard for NAAB teams. Now in its fifth edition, the list is unique to the discipline in that no other professional organization publishes an alternative. This article describes the review process, evaluative methods, and criteria applied to develop that edition. In doing so, it outlines the process to develop such a resource for an academic program granting a professional design degree.

Framing a Gallery Program: Integrating the ACRL Framework into a University Library Art Gallery
Loretta Esparza, Catherine Fonseca, Mary Wegmann

Abstract- The Sonoma State University Library Art Committee curates exhibits and develops programming for its library gallery to support the library and university missions, the library’s curriculum philosophy, and the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. These exhibits complement various disciplines, foster curiosity, provide opportunities for reflection, present primary sources for research and inspiration, and invite campus and community engagement. The Art Committee also develops course-integrated programming and aligns exhibit components with the ACRL Framework to engage visitors with information-literacy concepts. In this article, the authors discuss examples of framework-driven curation and programming, methods for collaboration, lessons learned, and future directions for the gallery program.

[This article is based on a poster session prepared for the 2020 ARLIS/NA virtual conference.]

Fashioning the Framework: Information Literacy for Fashion Studies
Laura B. Thompson

Abstract- The discipline of fashion studies has recently developed as a subject of critical academic study. As a result, information literacy instruction for these programs has become increasingly important. The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education provides general guidance for this instruction but, as with other performance, art, or design-oriented disciplines, it requires considerable contextualization. For fashion studies, discussions about disciplinary context have been limited, especially as they concern the ACRL Framework. This article provides a brief overview of the Framework and discusses issues of interdisciplinarity in fashion studies and applications of each frame from design and practice-based perspectives.

Demand-Driven Acquisition for an Academic Architecture Library Collection: A Case Study and Commentary
Hillary Veeder

Abstract- Libraries employ various methods of collection development that incorporate in-case and in-time models for acquisitions to maintain a balance of collection growth and access. Acquisition of e-books, especially within design disciplines, remains an ongoing area of development. In addition to subscription packages and firm orders, demand-driven acquisition (DDA) programs for e-books offer a method for growing collections. Although they appear to limit the role of the librarian in the process, use of these programs can serve to enhance librarian-centered acquisition practices.

Art Documentation Editors

Judy Dyki

Dir of Acad Programs & Library

Art Documentation Editor

Eileen Markson


Art Documentation Copy Editor