Resource Guide: Materials Libraries

Research & Reports,

This brief resource guide was compiled in response to requests from members of the Architecture Section for more information about materials libraries and their development. Many thanks to Tara Carlisle and Janine Henri of UT Austin for contributing content to this guide.

Written and compiled by Heather Ball, Head of the Art and Architecture Library at Virginia Tech

Some Exemplary Materials Libraries

Arizona State University

Architecture and Environmental Design Library
Materials Resource Center
Deborah Koshinsky, head, Architecture and Environmental Design Library

"The Materials Resource Center is an assemblage of manufacturers' catalogs, samples and other information. This is a teaching facility as well as a hands-on specifications laboratory focusing on products and building materials, especially those that are environmentally sensitive."

Fashion Institute of Technology - SUNY

Interior Design Resource Collection
Gladys Marcus Library
N. J. Wolfe, library director

"The Library maintains a professional-level product literature collection, containing many manufacturer and vendor catalogs for furnishings, lighting, plumbing fixtures and hardware, as well as a wide selection of fabric, paint, flooring, wood, and stone samples."

Parsons School of Design

Angelo Donghia Materials Library
Emily Stevenson, curator

"The Angelo Donghia Materials Library and Study Center is comprised of a library, a gallery, a computer lab, and a lecture hall. The Library allows students and faculty to review and check out state-of-the-art resources, putting the latest and most exclusive materials at their fingertips. Regular exhibitions at the gallery run by a full-time curator are open to the public, creating an open forum and dialogue with the larger interior design community."

University of Texas at Austin

School of Architecture
Materials Lab
Tara Carlisle, director

Articles about Materials Libraries

  1. Burnett, Linda. "Resource Central: Creating a Successful Design Library--Nobody's Shushing Anyone Here, Least of All the Librarian." Contract: Commercial Interior Design and Architecture. 46.7: July 2004: 33. Also available online: November 1, 2004.
  2. Sokol, David. "Kids’ ConneXion: The New Angelo Dongia Materials Library Rescues Parsons Students from Fabric-Sample Oblivion." Metropolis Magazine.22.9, May 2003: 40. Also available online: May 1, 2003.
  3. Sutton, Katherin Day. "Material Whirl." Interiors. 158.8: August 1999: 36(2).


  1. Amato, Ivan. Stuff: the Materials the World is Made of. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
  2. Ashby, Mike and Kara Johnson. Materials and Design: The Art and Science of Material Selection in Product Design. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2002.
  3. Ball, Philip. Made to Measure: New Materials for the 21st Century. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1997.
  4. de Jong-Dalziel, Robyn, ed. Skins for Buildings: The Architect's Materials Samples Book. Amsterdam: BIS, 2004.
  5. Fuad-Luke, Alastair. Eco Design: The Sourcebook. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2002.
  6. Lefteri, Chris. Materials for Inspirational Design Series. Switzerland: RotoVision, (dates vary). (Series includes: Ceramics, Glass, Metal, Plastics, Wood)
  7. Lupton, Ellen. Skin: Surface, Substance and Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002.
  8. Mori, Toshiko, ed. Immaterial/Ultramaterial: Architecture, Design, and Materials. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Design School in association with George Braziller, 2002.
  9. Van Onna, Edwin. Material World Innovative Structures and Finishes for Interiors. Basel; Boston: Birkhauser, 2003.

Organizations, News, Web Blogs and Discussion Boards

Materials and Technology Blogs

Samples, Databases, Directories