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Art History Department


Finding Resources

Research Resources in the Lucy Scribner Library

(Compiled by Yvette Cortes, Fine Arts Librarian, Lucy Scribner Library, Library 221a, x8311)


Library Catalog (LUCY)

Go to "Find Books" on the library homepage.

Use LUCY to locate books, journals (but not specific articles), and DVDs owned by the library. Start by entering your keywords into the search box. You can further refine your search by format, author, subject, language or year. Sometimes the most current book on a subject will be the best resource, but sometimes you might want the oldest books on a subject for historical research. There is also an "Advanced" search option where you can search by a specific title, author, subject or ISBN number.

Note: There may not be a whole book about the person or subject you are researching! If that happens, you will need to broaden your search.

Once you've found a couple of likely book titles, go to the shelves and browse. Search through the indexes of the books to find what you're looking for.

To find out what new books and DVDs the library has, go to "Find Books" on the library homepage, then "New Books." You can then limit by subject (such as Art) or type (such as DVD). 

Library of Congress classification system

Books in the Scribner Library (and most academic libraries) are arranged by subject, in the Library of Congress classification system.

Other sections you may be interested in: Anthropology (GN), Archaeology (CC), Fashion (GT & TT), History (D), Religion (BL), Photography (TR). Most art books are located in the N section (on the 2nd floor).

Library of Congress subject headings for books can be found in the LUCY catalog records. If you click on the subject heading(s), you can find more books in the library with that same subject. 

Reference Collection

Reference works are a good place to start your research.

Scribner Library's reference resources include encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, directories and indexes - both in print and electronic formats. The reference book collection contains general and specialized art historical works (under the "N's"), and is located on the 1st floor, behind the reference desk. Since your research may be interdisciplinary, you may want to check these sections also: Anthropology (GN), Archaeology (CC), Fashion (GT & TT), History (D), Religion (BL), Photography (TR).

To find specific reference books, go to the LUCY Library Catalog and type in your keywords. Next go to "Select Location" on the right-hand side of the page and set the location to "Reference Collection."

Many recent resources are available only in electronic formats. To find electronic art reference sources go to "Resources by Subject or Topic". Then "Art," then click on the "Reference" tab at the top of the page.

The following reference databases are good places to start:

Special Collections

The Department of Special Collections is located in Pohndorff Reading Room on the 3rd floor of the library. Although books from the collections do not circulate, they may be used in the Pohndorff Reading Room during regular hours.

If you are working on advanced research, you may need to access primary materials. Scribner Library's Special Collections is an excellent resource, especially for artists' books and rare books.

The Rare Book Collections consist of volumes that are rare, unique, or fragile. Examples of some books in the collections are a multi-volume set of Edward Curtis's The North American Indian, a 15th-century illuminated Book of Hours, and an 1825 edition of William Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job, and a King James Bible illustrated by Barry Moser.

Special Collections also has an Artists' Book Collection, which has over 200 books. 


Go to "Find Books" on the library homepage, then "WorldCat."

Though Skidmore has an excellent collection of books and journals, there will be times where you will want a publication that Skidmore does not own. Through WorldCat, you can find books, exhibition catalogs, DVDs, and other materials in libraries around the country with a single search.

Once you find the title in WorldCat, and confirm Skidmore does not own it, you can get it though Interlibrary Loan. When you are in the WorldCat record, click "Request via ILL." Log in with your Skidmore username and password. The ILL form will be automatically filled out, so you just need to click "Submit Request" at the bottom of the page.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

Go to "Services" on the library homepage or go directly to the ILL page.

Interlibrary Loan gives you access to materials that the Scribner Library does not have available in print or full text through one of the library's databases. You may request items such as books, articles and dissertations.

Make sure you request materials through ILL early enough in the semester to get the sources in time. The average time it takes to get an article is 4 days and a book 9 days. 


This catalog contains the holdings of 18 academic libraries in New York State - a total of 5 million items. Books requested via ConnectNY arrive at Skidmore in 2 to 3 days.  To search ConnectNY, go to http://connectny.info/.

Course Reserves

To find out what books, articles or DVDs are on reserve for your courses, you can log in here: http://www2.skidmore.edu/library/reserves


It's a good idea to browse the current issues of the art journals, to read recent scholarship or just for enjoyment.

To find specific articles related to art, search the library's article databases. Click on the link "Find Subjects", then "Art."

Often research is interdisciplinary, so you may want to search other subject pages such as Anthropology, History or Religion.

You can also browse all the databases the library subscribes to in the list "Electronic Resources A-Z".

Not all databases provide the full text of articles (such as Art Abstracts). If the article you want is not full text, while in the record click on "FullText Search." Often, you'll be linked to the full text of the article through a different database. If the full text is still not available, you can check if the library has the print journal you need and you can photocopy or scan the article. Back issues of journals are in the ground floor in compact shelving. If the library does not have the article you want in print, you can get it through ILL (see below).

To check to see if the library has the print journal go to "Find Articles" from the library homepage, then go to "Journals and Newspapers" which provides a search engine for library journal holdings.

Be sure to try the same search in various databases, since each one indexes different journals! 

Art databases

Selected Multidisciplinary Databases


Please read Skidmore Library's guide: Evaluating Internet Sites and Resources.

There is a list of recommended websites related to art on the library's "Resources for Art" subject page. Click on the link "Find Subjects," then "Art", then the "Web Sites" tab. 

Primary Sources on the Internet

Websites can give us access to materials that we might never see otherwise. Although much in special collections across the world has not been digitized, there are many web initiatives providing us the opportunity to study unique manuscripts.


Google is a great way to find many types of information that cannot always be found in articles or books. You can look at museum exhibitions online, read about the latest news as it happens, read blogs about current issues or specialized topics, read information from the government, explore university websites, etc. For the best results, always go to Google's Advanced Search page, which offers many options for making your searches more precise and getting more useful results. In the Advanced Search, you can limit your results by: language, date, file format, or domain.

Sometimes you'll want only results that include an exact phrase. In this case, simply put quotation marks around your search terms. This is useful if you're searching for proper names ("Jackson Pollock"), titles ("College Art Association"), or other phrases ("medieval art"). If you are in the Advanced Search, you can type the phrase into the "with the exact phrase" box.

You can search only within one specific website by entering the search terms you're looking for, followed by the word "site" and a colon followed by the domain name. Example: art site:skidmore.edu

The domain name suffix will let you know what type of site you're looking at:

Google Scholar

Google Scholar limits your search to scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. 


Visual Resources Collection (VRC)

The Visual Resources Collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library. The VRC is available to help students utilize digital images in their class presentations. Individual instruction in the use of ARTstor as well as presentation software (e.g. PowerPoint or OIV) is available by prior appointment with David Seiler.

For more information, please contact: David Seiler, Director of Visual Resources, x5519 

Image databases

The library subscribes to several image databases. Click on the link "Find Subjects," then "Images", then click on the "Images" tab.

Other databases which provide images:

Selected websites: