Skip to Main Content
Bridwell|Art Library

Student Guide to the Art Library: Books

Use this guide to learn about the Art Library and discover resources related to art history, studio art, and design.

Why Books?

Even in the 2020s most resources on the visual arts are still published in print. You aren't likely to find an e-book version of an exhibition catalog!

Think of the various chapters in a book as similar in scope to scholarly articles. You do not have to read a book cover-to-cover to enhance your understanding on a topic. Instead, pick the most interesting chapters to you, read closely, and trace some of the footnotes/citations which will help you discover more sources to delve a little deeper and identify key scholars and resources. This page explains the different kinds of books available at the Art Library and how to locate them.

Types of Art Books

I. Monographs and Edited Volumes

Academic publications such as monographs & edited volumes that have undergone the peer-review process are considered authoritative and reliable sources of information. While the language might feel esoteric & scholarly, these books are written by experts and thus can help with deeper learning as you research your work of art because the writing is less descriptive (as an art history textbook might be), and more analytical/critical.

II. Exhibition Catalogs

Exhibition catalogs are produced to compliment small or large-scale museum/gallery exhibitions. They contain a list of all works exhibited, and often include introductory and contextual essays written by scholars and/or curators. All reliable, authoritative books, such as these, should contain footnotes as well as detailed bibliographies (that list of other sources!), to lead to demonstrate evidence of solid research, and to give credit to other experts in the area you are reading about.

III. Catalogue Raisonné

Catalogue raisonnés are scholarly compilations of an artist's body of work which include annotated listings of all known artworks by an artist, or all works they have created in a particular media (i.e, prints or photographs). They are essential research tools for provenance, exhibition history, and attribution of artworks; many are comprehensive and take years to publish. Also visit the International Foundation for Art Research - Catalogues Raisonnés Database for published and in-progress catalogues raisonnés.

IV. Sketchbooks

Sketchbooks are a book or pad with blank pages for sketching frequently used by artists for drawing or painting as a part of their creative process. Two types of sketchbooks include:observations, or the documentation of the external world, such as many such travel and nature studies and sketches recording an artist's travels; and inventions, following the artists' digressions and internal journeys as they develop compositional ideas. See the Artists' Sketchbooks guide for a list of sketchbooks held by the Art Library.

Find Art Books

The UofL Libraries Catalog is the easiest way to find books available at the UofL University Libraries. You can search directly from the Art Library's website

You can search for books two different ways:

A keyword search will search for the author, title, subject, and other descriptors of the book or article you are searching for. You perform a keyword search every time you search in Google. The upside to a keyword search is that it is easy, and you usually get plenty of results. The downside is that often too many results appear, and the results aren't always relevant to your search.

A Subject Heading search is a specific term used to describe the main concept of a book, article, or other resource. Once you find out what the assigned subject terms are for your topic, you can better locate relevant resources by doing a "subject" search. (These are trickier than keyword searches because they are "controlled vocabulary" and predetermined when a book or article is cataloged).

You can find the subject headings for any book in the Library Catalog by clicking on "View Description" and scrolling down to see the subjects.



To make it a bit easier, when you search the Library Catalog, use the filters on the left-hand side and select "Art Library" so you can narrow down to books located in Bridwell Art Library.


Nochlin, Linda. Women Artists : The Linda Nochlin Reader. Edited by Maura Reilly, Thames & Hudson, 2015.

The Art & Architecture e-Portal (A&AePortal) provides access to authoritative eBook resources that features important works of scholarship in the history of art, architecture, decorative arts, photography, and design from some of the world's finest publishers and museums such as Art Institute of Chicago, Princeton, and Yale University Press.

All books are full-text searchable and the site is very easy to navigate. These titles are also discoverable in the Library Catalog. Use the Art & Architecture ePortal & Interaction of Color guide to set up your account to access this database and the Interaction of Color digital edition.

Craven, David. Art and Revolution in Latin America, 1910–1990. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.

MetPublications is a portal to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's publishing program which includes over 1,500 titles including books, online publications, and Bulletins and Journals from the last 50 years.

Afghanistan : Forging Civilizations along the Silk Road. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012.


Image Credits: Screenshots of the Art Library homepage and catalog search, Art & Architecture ePortal homepage, and the MetPublications homepage.

Student Borrowing Privileges

Access your library account for renewals.

Use Cardinal Card to check out materials.

UofL Undergraduate Students

Library Collection Loan Period Max. # of items
ART books 60 days none
ART videos 3 days none

UofL Graduate Students

Library Collection Loan Period Max. # of items
ART books 120 days none
ART videos 7 days none

Call Numbers

The Library of Congress (LoC) classifies books into call numbers based upon subject. Use the following as a guide to browsing the book stacks and folios for books.

N -- Fine Arts

  • N -- Visual arts
  • NA -- Architecture
  • NB -- Sculpture
  • NC -- Drawing, Design, Illustration
  • ND -- Painting
  • NE -- Print media
  • NK -- Decorative Arts
  • NX -- Arts in general

T -- Technology

  • TR -- Photography
  • T 223 - 325 -- Logos, Trademarks
  • TS 195 - 198.9 -- Packaging
  • TT 515 - 850 -- Needlework, knitting, quilting, weaving, fiber arts
  • TT 919 - 924 -- Pottery

Z -- Book Arts

  • Z116 - 659 -- Book and publication design; bookbinding; calligraphy; typography