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.

Art Documentation is published for ARLIS/NA by University of Chicago Press, which supports green open access for all of its journals. Authors may self-archive their own articles and make them freely available through institutional or disciplinary repositories. 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.

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Tables of Contents

To search Art Documentation contents 1982-present, go to the journal home page.


2016: Volume 35

Issue 1 / Spring

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. 35, no. 1 (Spring 2016)

The Library in Art's Crosshairs
Henry Pisciotta

Abstract—The library has been examined critically by many artists, particularly those working since the 1960s. This article identifies four ideas recurring in art works that critique this institution. These themes relate the library to its community, to issues of authorship and ownership, to restrictive forms of order, and to the tension between chaos and order that often accompanies creativity.

The Future of Artist Files: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Samantha Deutch and Sally McKay

Abstract—Historically, art librarians saved ephemera—exhibition checklists, gallery announcements, biographical information, and reproductions of works of art—in collections known as artist files. Increasingly, this information is created only in digital formats. While one hopes that art galleries and artists are preserving this information, in many cases they are not, or at least not in ways that are accessible or intended for long-term access. To remedy this situation, the Artist Files Special Interest Group of the Art Libraries Society of North America has been exploring ways to preserve and provide access to these resources for future scholars. This article describes two collaborative projects. The first is a national directory, created by the group in 2007, which helps users locate these often elusive materials. The second is a collaborative initiative that currently involves representatives from four institutions using Archive-It to capture, store, and provide access to this information, now and into the future.

From Marginal to Mainstream: Art Ephemera as Research Material at the RKD
Roman Koot and Klawa Koppenol

Abstract—In September 2011, the RKD—Netherlands Institute for Art History—took the first steps in preparing a modest yet important part of its collection of art ephemera for digitization. This project is still underway. Many art libraries consider digitization a useful tool for enhancing the accessibility of this material, which is frequently difficult to discover. As is often the case at other institutions, ephemera have been the proverbial stepchild within the RKD's collections. However, with the growing use of the Institute's resources for the study of modern and contemporary art, the ephemera collection has proven to be of great value for researchers. This article discusses the Digitization of Ephemera 1800–1960 project as a case study within the context of the RKD's extensive and varied holdings of art ephemera.

Making the Fleeting Permanent: The "Winnipeg Effect" on Communities of Collaboration
Liv Valmestad

Abstract—The author describes several projects in which artist ephemeral materials have been collected, documented, digitized, and disseminated. She provides a brief overview of three kindred Winnipeg projects—Prairie Prestige: How Western Canadian Artists Have Influenced the Canadian Art Scene, UMPublic Art and Q(a)R(t) Codes, and The Winnipeg Effect—that were each initially conceived as separate entities, but are now pieces of a larger collaborative whole. Issues such as copyright, funding, collecting, storage, and accessibility are also discussed.

Documentation for Digitized Artworks: The Case of Andy Warhol's Polaroid Photographs
Peter Botticelli

Abstract—Digitization is greatly expanding access to fragile objects such as photographs, yet repositories face complex challenges in providing metadata to support online access. This article examines a case study of Polaroid photographs by Andy Warhol, a large, distributed collection in which the meaning and value of the objects depends not only on the visual characteristics of the photographs, but also on the aggregate or collection context in which the objects are described and exhibited online. The Warhol Polaroids highlight the impact of documentation on digitized objects and the need to enrich existing metadata to place objects in an authentic context.

Integrating Library, Archives, and Museum Collections in an Open Source Information Management System: A Case Study at Glenstone
Tessa Brawley-Barker

Abstract—In 2012, Glenstone began searching for information management systems for the library, archives, and museum collections. After evaluating different proprietary products designed for individual departmental needs, Glenstone decided to adopt CollectiveAccess, a customizable open-source system designed to be interoperable across departments. By creating linked relationships between record entities, CollectiveAccess formed a seamless, integrated discovery platform for users. This article presents the librarian's role and responsibilities in collaborating with the database development team, Whirl-i-Gig, and internal Glenstone departments to prepare for the museum's innovative and unique information services platform.

How the University of Maryland Architecture Library Avoided Closure and Emerged as a Professional Library
Cindy Frank and Christine Henry

Abstract—In June 2014, the dean of libraries at the University of Maryland announced the libraries' plan to close the architecture branch library over the summer due to permanent budget cuts that had been handed down from the state of Maryland. After many e-mail messages, a petition, phone calls, and letters, the dean of libraries gave the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation a reprieve of one semester to come up with some creative alternatives to closing. This article explores the process from announced closing to task force report and final decision.

Branding the Branch: A Case Study in Marketing the Architecture Library at Ball State University
Amy Trendler

Abstract—Using the Architecture Library at Ball State University as an example, the author demonstrates how libraries can create a brand as a framework for executing a marketing plan. Libraries, even specialized branch libraries serving well-defined user groups, can benefit from giving careful consideration to the library's image and whether or not users perceive the library to be relevant to their information needs. The Architecture Library's brand is student-focused, with a minimalist, modern look intended to appeal to students in the university's environmental design programs. It promotes the Architecture Library through its logo, displayed in posters, marketing campaigns, and social media. It also characterizes the type of library experience the staff seeks to provide to users.

Embedded Art Librarianship: Project Partnerships from Concept to Production
Kristina M. Keough and Stephen A. Patton

Abstract—The authors explore emerging opportunities for librarian partnerships with visual arts departments and users engaged with creative research, particularly in a digital environment. Methods for embedding research and digital literacy into the arts curriculum are showcased through examples of digital humanities projects. In addition, the authors offer practical suggestions for art librarians who work in a digital project management role.

Programming Special Collections: A Case Study of John Ringling's Personal Art Library
MÄ“gan Oliver

Abstract—Born out of an institutional desire to build library usership, court donors, and promote rare book research, librarians initiated special collections research at The Ringling Museum. In the fall of 2013, they began studying the personal library of John Ringling, the museum founder. The ultimate goal of this project was the creation of substantive public programming that would amplify the library's profile in the community while providing a historical narrative that would accompany that hidden special collection. The added exposure to these collections was also meant to grow the Friends of the Library group and boost daily statistics. This article demonstrates how programming, in so many ways, is the best form of special collections education and should be considered a valuable addition to a library's mission.

Trends in Professional Art Library Job Postings, 2010-2015
Karen Stafford

Abstract—The author outlines the geography of the current art library job market through an examination of job postings from the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) ARLIS-L listserv. The breakdown of institution type (academic, museum, other) and preferred and required qualifications for professional-level vacancies are analyzed, with results showing the majority of open positions are in academic institutions and the most commonly requested qualifications are library experience, communication skills, knowledge of digital trends, an additional subject degree, and supervisory experience. Finally, the author compares the qualifications for various position types, showing that some qualifications are more highly preferred for certain positions.