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
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

Digital Facsimiles and the Modern Viewer: Medieval Manuscripts and Archival Practice in the Age of New Media
Jasmine Elizabeth Burns

Abstract—Through an engagement with theory from the fields of art history, anthropology, and sociology, this article examines the archival existence of medieval manuscripts and facilitates an understanding of archival practice and its effects on user experience from the perspective of the researcher, rather than from that of the archivist or information professional. In an exploration of notions of materiality and virtuality, the author addresses the material and institutional existence of medieval manuscripts and traces the evolution of the facsimile as a solution to problems of access. Within this framework, the various altered engagements with manuscripts in physical and digital form are assessed in order to establish the costs and benefits of virtuality. The roles of new technologies that produce high-quality facsimiles are investigated through theories of (re)presentation with respect to visual materials, including images and historical text.

Speak to the Eyes: The History and Practice of Information Visualization
Jefferson Bailey, Internet Archive
Lily Pregill, New York Art Resources Consortium

Abstract—Information visualization techniques are being used increasingly by scholars, museum curators, and collection managers to analyze cultural heritage data sets in novel and dynamic ways. Shifting palettes, spatial density, and other material aspects of works can now be examined digitally to provide new insights into creativity, form, genre, and change. Cultural heritage professionals are also beginning to use visualizations and computational tools to expand the availability and explorability of their collections. This article locates the current field of information visualization within its historical context, demonstrating the shift in aesthetic practice within the field from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day. A number of current projects are presented to illustrate how information visualization is mediating formal humanities research and the study and management of collections.

Preparing for the Future of Research Services for Art History: Recommendations from the Ithaka S+R Report
Matthew P. Long, Ithaka S+R
Roger C. Schonfeld, Ithaka S+R

Abstract—The authors present the results of Ithaka S+R's study of research practices in art history and related recommendations about scholars' needs for research services. Ithaka S+R is a strategic consulting and research service that focuses on the transformation of scholarship and teaching in an online environment. The article describes findings related to the discovery of primary sources, the management of scholars' personal digital collections, the use of new research methods in digital art history, the acquisition of research skills in graduate programs, and the management of art libraries' collections of secondary sources.

The Promise and Problems of the Visual E-Book: Call for an Alliance between Authors and Librarians
Anne Whiston Spirn, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ann Baird Whiteside, Harvard University

Abstract—This article explores the state of libraries and authorship in response to the evolving landscape of electronic books. The authors discuss the topic through a conversation about the choice to self-publish an electronic book in the visual arts. Issues such as the primacy of the image as argument for research in design and the visual arts, the availability of e-books to libraries, the influence of publishers on the e-book medium and market, and implications for libraries and collection development are considered.

The Evolution of Artists' Publishing
Tony White, Maryland Institute College of Art

Abstract—With the concept of artists' books having been defined in 1973, many artists began to make and produce books as works of art. The shift from printing technologies to desktop publishing in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in a change in the types and numbers of books produced by artists, shifting from artists' books to artists' publishing. With the advent of the Internet, digital printing, and print-on-demand technologies, self-publishing became widely available. In the last fifteen years artists, designers, architects, and photographers have produced new books in the style of twentieth-century artists' books and zines. This article briefly discusses recent developments related to these publications and includes examples of publishers, distributors, online bookshops, and websites for spaces that sell and promote new independent publications.

Uncovering Michael Snow's Cover to Cover
Jon Evans, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Abstract—Michael Snow has long been recognized for his work in a variety of media. However, his bookworks have received only modest appreciation. His 1975 publication entitled Cover to Cover remains among his finest achievements in any medium and is a tour de force of photo bookmaking. This article explores the genesis of the publication as well as its initial reception while providing a context for the work within the broader oeuvre of his book production. A look at how Snow has approached, manipulated, and transformed various publication types, such as the exhibition catalog, monographic series, notebook, and family album, is provided. This is followed by an overview of the historical context in which Snow's seminal book was produced, succeeded by an assessment of the distinctive features that make Cover to Cover worthy of continued attention.

Book Artists Unbound: Providing Access to Creator Metadata with EAC-CPF
Allison Jai O'Dell, University of Miami

Abstract—The Book Artists Unbound project centralizes contextual background information about book artists to foster new modes of discovery for artists' books. The workflow discussed harvests creator metadata elements from a MARC-format bibliographic database and generates rich creator records for artists encoded with the EAC-CPF schema. Using the Remixing Archival Metadata Project (RAMP) editor allows the data to be semiautomatically enhanced with information and URIs from WorldCat Identities and VIAF. An end-user interface experiments with the efficacy of browsing by artist to encourage discovery.

Full Speed Ahead: The Challenges of Cataloging a Historic Editorial Cartoon Collection
Mary Anne Dyer, Virginia Commonwealth University

Abstract—A project by Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries to digitize a collection of 1940s-era original cartoons by editorial cartoonist Charles Henry Sykes (1882–1942) posed a number of interesting cataloging challenges. Many of the cartoons, with topics that ranged from local politics to World War II, lacked date information and dealt with subjects that were difficult to identify without further research. This article reviews some of the issues involved in cataloging editorial cartoons and examines solutions to address the lack of date information, complex subject matter, and the desire to provide access to unique characteristics of the cartoons.

From Ephemera to Art: The Birth of Film Preservation and the Museum of Modern Art Film Library
Justin McKinney

Abstract—The medium of film has occupied an important space in the public consciousness since the first public screenings of moving images took place in the 1890s. From its inception, film was commonly seen as a disposable object, designed for the entertainment of the masses, but having little artistic or historical value. From the 1890s to the 1930s numerous individuals and institutions argued for the importance of preserving film, but it was not until the creation of the Museum of Modern Art Film Library—the first film archive in the United States—that film was finally recognized as a valuable and unique art form worthy of preservation.

Locating Traces of Hidden Visual Culture in Rare Books and Special Collections: A Case Study in Visual Literacy
Jennifer Garland, McGill University

Abstract—The author describes the recent collaboration of a special collections librarian and an art history professor at McGill University to integrate primary source material into a semester long undergraduate course assignment and subsequent exhibition and catalog. The fourth-year art history course, Canadian Slavery and Its Legacies: A Curatorial Seminar, required students to select and prepare an exhibition catalog entry for two visual objects (prints, maps, books, plates, ephemera, objects) from within the holdings of McGill Rare Books and Special Collections. Through in-class visits and individual consultation, the librarian guided students in navigating special collections for the first time, thus easing feelings of "archival anxiety" and illustrating the role of special collections in academic research.

Where Visual and Information Literacies Meet: Redesigning Research Skills Teaching and Assessment for Large Art History Survey Courses
Heather Gendron, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Eva Sclippa, Alfred University

Abstract—Art librarians who are responsible for information-literacy instruction programs face many of the same challenges librarians from other disciplines face, such as limited staffing to deal with increased requests for course-related library instruction, teaching large groups of students, and the assessment of instruction sessions. As subject specialists, art librarians are well positioned to collaborate with faculty in the design of research-based assignments that connect visual literacy to information literacy. This article explores how the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill's Sloane Art Library took on these challenges and in the process improved its instructional program, increased assessment of student learning, and collaborated with faculty to transition from optional "library worksheets" to graded library-based research assignments.

Off the Cuff: How Fashion Bloggers Find and Use Information
Kimberly Detterbeck, Purchase College, SUNY
Nicole LaMoreaux, LIM College
Marie Sciangula, Purchase College, SUNY

Abstract—The authors conducted an online survey to investigate the information-seeking behavior and research methods of fashion bloggers—specifically, how bloggers find, use, and interact with information and information professionals. Based on qualitative and quantitative research, the authors posit three observations: the importance of appearing authentic and knowledgeable discourages bloggers from consulting information professionals for research
assistance; blogging's inherently fast-paced nature stymies in-depth research; and fashion blogging hinges on information sharing, but a fair and consistent citation standard has not been established.