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Skidmore College
Writing and Research in Art History

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:

  • Oxford Art Online – Provides the content of Grove Art Online and Oxford art reference in one location. Grove Art Online is a scholarly art encyclopedia covering all aspects of Western and non-Western visual art. It includes the full text of The Dictionary of Art – a reference work containing more than 45,000 articles and 21,000 biographies. Also provides over 40,000 image links to museums and galleries around the world.
  • Oxford Reference Online- Offers over 175 fully-indexed, cross-searchable reference works published by Oxford University Press. There are over a million entries, including in-depth, signed entries with bibliographies. Following are the reference works available in Art & Architecture:
  • Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Dictionary of Modern Design, Dictionary of Twentieth-century Art, Oxford Companion to Archaeology, Oxford Companion to the Garden, Oxford Companion to the Photograph, Oxford Companion to Western Art, Oxford Dictionary of Art, Visual English Dictionary

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

Course Reserves

To find out what books, articles or DVDs are on reserve for your courses, you can log in here:


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

  • ARTbibliographies Modern - Provides abstracts of articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogs, dissertations, and exhibition reviews related to modern and contemporary art.Coverage: late 1960's - present
  • Art Abstracts - Provides abstracts of articles related to art, architecture and design from over 500 internationals periodicals, many of them peer-reviewed. Coverage: 1984 - present
  • Art Index Retrospective- Provides citations to articles related to art, architecture and design from over 600 internationals periodicals, many of them peer-reviewed. Coverage: 1929 - 1984
  • Arts and Humanities Search – Provides citations to articles, bibliographies, editorials, letters, reviews, and more related to the arts and humanities. Coverage: 1980 – present
  • Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals - Provides abstracts of articles related to architecture, archaeology, decorative arts, interior design, and historic preservation from over 2,500 international periodicals. Coverage: 1934 (with selective coverage back to 1741) - present
  • Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) - Provides abstracts of articles, books, and exhibition and dealers' catalogs related to American and European art, architecture, and design from late antiquity to the present. Coverage: 1973 - present

Selected Multidisciplinary Databases

  • Academic Search Complete - Provides full-text and abstracts of articles from over 8,000 journals, including nearly 200 art journals. Coverage: 1975 - present
  • American National Biography– Provides biographical essays on over 1,200 (deceased) American artists and architects.
  • AnthropologyPlus - Provides indexing of articles related to anthropology, including art history, archaeology, museum studies, and material culture. Coverage: late 19th century - present
  • ArticleFirst - Provides access to periodical articles covering a range of disciplines and subjects, including the humanities, and popular culture. Coverage: 1990 - present
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) – Provides full-text of articles from scientific and scholarly journals, including 40 art and architecture journals. Available free on the web.
  • Iter gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance - Provides citations to journal articles, essays, books, dissertation abstracts, encyclopedia entries and reviews relating to the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods (400-1700). Includes materials related to art history. Coverage: 1784 - present
  • JSTOR - Provides full-text of articles from scholarly journals, including over 50 art and architecture journals. Articles are high-resolution scans of journal pages as they were originally printed and illustrated. Coverage: JSTOR is not a current issues database, so there is a gap, typically from 1 to 5 years, between the most recently published journal issue and the back issues available in JSTOR.
  • LexisNexis Academic - Provides full-text of hundreds of internationals newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times (dating back to 1980). Coverage: late 1970's - present
  • Project Muse - Provides full-text of articles from over 300 scholarly humanities and arts journals. Coverage: 1995 - present
  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers- Provides full-page articles from entire run of The New York Times. Reproduces some images, including photographs, graphics, and ads. Coverage: 1851 – 2003
  • ProQuest Research Library- Provides full-text and abstracts of articles from thousands of scholarly journals, trade publications, magazines, and newspapers. Includes over 200 art journals. Coverage: 1971 – present
  • Wiley InterScience– Provides full-text of articles from over 850 journals, the majority of which are scholarly and published by Blackwell. Art-related journals include International Journal of Art & Design Education, Art History and Criticism, The Art Book, Art History, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Museum Studies, and Museum International.


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

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

  • Government agency: .gov, .us (example: National Gallery of Art)
  • Educational institution: .edu (example: Skidmore)
  • Nonprofit organization: .org (example: MoMA)
  • Commercial site: .com (example: artnet)

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.

  • AP Images- One of the world's largest collections of historical and contemporary imagery, providing millions of images dating back more than 100 years. The collection is updated every minute of the day and includes entertainment, fashion, news and sports coverage from The Associated Press.
  • ARTstor - A digital library of nearly one million images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences with a set of tools to view, present, and manage images for research and pedagogical purposes. ARTstor collections are comprised of contributions from museums, individual photographers, scholars, special collections at libraries, and photo archives. Includes Skidmore's Visual Resources Collection.
  • Oxford Art Online- Provides over 3,000 key works of art as thumbnail images within the text of frequently consulted and important articles. In addition, Grove Art provides searchable image collections covering hundreds of areas in the visual arts: Art Resource is a collection of 90,000 important images in art history. Bridgeman Art Library is a collection of over 100,000 art images from major international museums, galleries and auction houses. Art image links offer over 40,000 images on hundreds of international museum and gallery web sites.

Other databases which provide images:

  • JSTOR– Using the Basic Search, the search results are separated into three tabs: "Articles," "Images from Articles," and "ARTstor Images." The "Images from Articles" tab presents results for search term matches in JSTOR article image captions. The combined JSTOR/ARTstor search enables users to conduct a basic search across both JSTOR and ARTstor at the same time.
  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers- Provides full-page articles from entire run of The New York Times back to 1851. Reproduces some images, including photographs, graphics, and ads. To find images, limit search by "Document Type": Photo standalone, Comic, Display Ad, Editorial Cartoon.

Selected websites:

  • Artcyclopedia - A database of thousands of artists represented at hundreds of museums, image archives, and other online resources.
  • Art Images for College Teaching - A free-use image resource for the educational community, which covers ancient, medieval, and Renaissance European art and architecture.
  • Artnet – Features images of more than 158,000 works by over 39,000 artists from around the globe.
  • Art Resource - Offers high quality images of works of painting, sculpture, architecture and the minor arts from most of the world's major museums, monuments, and commercial archives.
  • CAMIO: OCLC's Catalog of Art Museum Images Online - Works of art from around the world, from prehistoric to contemporary, representing the collections of prominent museums.
  • CORSAIR: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts - Digital images from Pierpont Morgan Library's collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.
  • Galaxy of Images - Thousands of images from books and manuscripts in the collections of Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
  • Google Images – Google's image search engine. Now also provides access to the newly digitized LIFE photo archive.
  • NYPL Digital Gallery - Provides free and open access to over 685,000 images digitized from the New York Public Library's collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.
  • Timeline of Art History - A chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from around the world, as illustrated especially by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection. The Museum's curatorial, conservation, and education staff research and write the Timeline, which is an invaluable reference and research tool for students, The Timeline extends from prehistory to the present day and reflects the most up-to-date scholarship.
  • Web Gallery of Art - A virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture of the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassicism and Romanticism periods (1100-1850), currently containing over 21,300 reproductions. Also includes picture commentaries and artist biographies.