ARLIS/NA Collection Development SIG Blog

For ARLIS/NA members interested in collection development issues.


Electronic Resources Consortiums: Do You Participate? / Susan Flanagan

In this post, I’d like us to discuss electronic databases in art libraries and how we acquire them. In future posts, I’ll cover other electronic resources issues.

Here at the Getty Research Institute, we were fortunate to join SCELC  a consortium of nonprofit academic and research institutes in 1986. Originally called Southern California Electronic Library Consortium, it is now incorporated as SCELC, which expanded to a nationwide organization. Currently there are over 100 members and 215 affiliates in 36 states. As a member of the Product Review Committee, I review and recommend new art related products and new vendors that the organization should offer to the client base. Then SCELC negotiates pricing and licensing term, and offers databases to SCELC libraries.  Every year SCELC organizes a Vendor Day event in Los Angeles that draws 200+ librarians representing more than 70 libraries from across the state of California. In addition, more than 50 vendors attend the event and together give over 130 presentations over the course of the day. The next event is March 9, 2017 and you are most welcome to attend and it is free! Click here for more information:

Now a few questions for the group:

How do you acquire databases? Are you a member of a consortium? Which one(s)? Who are the other library members? Any thoughts or comments?

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The Charleston Acquisitions Conference and the publication “Against the Grain” / Leslie Abrams

As a former colleague of founder Katina Strauch, I have closely watched the evolution of the Charleston Acquisitions Conference for the past 36 years as it has become the premiere venue to learn and connect with library professionals about all things related to acquisitions, collection development, and collection management. Held annually since 1980, the conference was conceptualized to allow a free and open exchange of information and ideas by fostering a healthy dialog between publishers, vendors, and librarians. As the rapid cascade of technological changes impacted libraries and our commercial partners, the conference embraced the challenge to provide an active forum for the discussion of emerging and transformational issues.  The conference invites provocative keynote speakers and features timely topical sessions with opportunities available for participants to present new ideas, findings, and analysis on an ever increasing array of issues. As our collection worlds have become increasing complex, new approaches and strategies to acquire, provide access to, and manage both traditional analog information resources and expanding digital and data content have emerged. Licensing, copyright, open access, budgeting, shared repositories, DDA/PDA, e-books and e-resources, streaming media, and digital preservation are but a few areas covered at the Charleston Acquisitions Conference over the years.

Hot off the press, this year the following plenary sessions will be available open access as a live video feed during the 2016 conference:

Thursday, November 3    8:30 – 9:15 am EST

Welcome and Opening Remarks

You Can’t Preserve What You Don’t Have – Or Can You? Libraries as Infrastructure for Perpetual Access to Intellectual Output. (Anja Smit, University Librarian, Utrecht University)

9:15 – 10:00 am

Libraries as Convener, Enabler, Distributor, Advocate, and Archive in the Future Knowledge Economy (Jim Neal, University Librarian Emeritus, Columbia University)

10:00 – 10:10 am

Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Scholarship Award Presentation

Friday, November 4    8:30 – 9:10 am EST

Announcements and Opening Remarks

Reimagining Our World At Planetary Scale: The Big Data Future Of Our Libraries (Kalev Leetaru, Senior Fellow, Center for Cyber & Homeland Security, Georgetown University)

9:10 – 9:55 am

Hyde Park Debate – Resolved: APC-Funded Open Access is Antithetical to the Values of Librarianship (Rick Anderson, Associate Dean for Collections & Scholarly Communication, University of Utah; Michael Levine-Clark, Dean and Director, University of Denver Libraries; Alison Scott, Associate University Librarian for Collections & Scholarly Communication, University of California, Riverside)

10:20 – 11:20 am

Charleston Fast Pitch Competition – See four finalists compete for two $2,500 prizes to further support the development and implementation of compelling library innovations.

Watch the broadcast on the Conference Website at


Against the Grain is a publication edited by Katina Strauch that provides the latest news about libraries, publishers, and vendors. The goal is to link these parties by reporting on the issues, literature, and people that impact the world of collections, information, publishing, and libraries. Each issue has a main Feature, a series of articles on a specific topic. The September 2016 topic is “Emerging from the Dark (room): Tales of Adversity and Triumph in Collection Development”. A Special Report on “Industry Consolidation in the Information Services and Library Environment: Perspectives from Thought Leaders” is also included. Each issue includes product reviews, interviews, and regular columns on publishing, bookselling and vending. Against the Grain is published six times a year, and the complementary ATG NewsChannel website, is updated daily with news and announcements. You can follow the ATG NewsChannel on Twitter (@ATG_NewsChannel), like ATG on Facebook, or sign up for RRS feeds.

The Charleston Acquisition Conference and associated publications may be of significant value to art, architecture, design, and media librarians with collection responsibilities. Check it out.

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Focus on Rare Books at the PMA / Mary Wassermann

Librarians at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Library and Archives have had the pleasure of significantly enriching our rare holdings in recent years. These efforts dovetail with the museum’s larger goals to foster connections between its diverse collections and to encourage greater audience engagement with all of the museum’s offerings.

Here are some notable acquisitions for your enjoyment!wassermann-line-marble-2Books and archival materials related to the Philadelphia 1876 Centennial Exhibition are a strong collecting focus, as the Philadelphia Museum of Art has its origins with the Centennial. This small French work presents book bindings from around the world that were displayed at the exhibition. Of special interest are frank assessments, by Victor Wynants, of the bindings (i.e. “null”), and listings of materials, prices and techniques based on questionnaires.

Illustration from Délégation des ouvrièrs relieurs à l’Exposition universelle (1876: Philadelphie). Preface by V. Wynants. Paris: Se vend chez tons les libraires, 1879.

2 preliminary leaves, 245 pages, 2 plates; 18 cm.

Gift of Faith and Fine Arts in memory of Thomas J. Myer, Jr.


wassermann-line-marble-2This pamphlet, The Century Vase, by the Gorham Silversmiths Company, describes the famous commemorative “Century Vase” that was the centerpiece of Gorham’s exhibit at the Philadelphia 1876 Centennial Exposition. The vase was more than four feet tall, weighed 125 pounds, and was also displayed in later international exhibitions. Unfortunately it was melted down by Gorham in the 1930s.


Front cover of The Century Vase, sterling silver, by the Gorham Company. [Seattle, Wash.: Albert Hansen, 1909]. 1 volume (unpaged): illustrations; 16 cm

The Arcadia Library Endowment Fund.




Issues of Comoedia Illustré and other materials related to the Ballets Russes were recently acquired and supplement existing holdings. Given the museum’s strong focus on 20th-century modernism, of special interest is a 1923 program with cover design and illustrations throughout by Picasso.



Frontispiece illustration by Pablo Picasso of Saison de Ballets Classiques par la Troupe de Ballets Russes de Serge de Diaghilev du 25 Novembre au 31 Décembre 1923: Théâtre de Monte-Carlo.  Paris: M. de Brunoff, 1923.

In memory of Barbara H. Winner. She loved books.


wassermann-line-marble-2The Library has historically worked with curatorial departments to acquire rare titles and even more so lately. The following two works of Italian designs, one for majolica and the other for textile patterns, are two excellent examples of such collaborations.

The first is an 18th-century manuscript that includes watercolors with designs and illustrations of apothecary jars and other forms typical of majolica. One illustration in particular is very similar to a ceramic plate owned by the museum and made by the Levantino family of Albissola.

wassermann-design-for-ceramic-plate-from-album-of-designs-for-ligurian-majolicaDesign for ceramic plate from Album of designs for Ligurian majolica. [1790?].

39 leaves; watercolor drawings; 41.6 x 26.8 cm. Album of fine watercolor drawings depicting majolica pieces associated with the late 18th century ceramics industry based in Savona and Albissola, Liguria.

Purchased with the Margery P. and B. Herbert Lee Fund for Library Acquisitions, and proceeds from the sale of deaccessioned works of art, and other Museum funds, 2016

wassermann-this-ceramic-plate-is-an-early-museum-acquisition-and-shows-a-similar-figure-and-leaf-formsThis ceramic plate is an early museum acquisition and shows a similar figure and leaf forms as illustrated in the library’s newly acquired Album of designs for Ligurian Majolica.
Dish. Made by the Levantino family of Albissola, Savona, Italy
Mid-18th century / Tin-enameled earthenware (faience), 2.5 × 17.8 × 17.8 cm / Bequest of Mrs. Frederic Graff, 1897 /               1897-883

wassermann-line-marble-2This Italian 19th-century textile printer’s sample book has vibrant woodblock images. Each design has tags with a reference number and occasional notations. Some patterns were likely meant for shawls, and others happen to be quite contemporary looking. With further research, we hope to uncover more details about this intriguing work.



Pages showing patterns, from Scialli e vesti con fazzoletti. [1835?].
144 leaves: 147 woodblock-printed designs; 31 x 21 cm.
An Italian textile printer’s sample book of sophisticated designs for cloth printing, produced circa 1835.
Purchased with the Margery P. and B. Herbert Lee Fund for Library Acquisitions and proceeds from the sale of deaccessioned works of art, 2016


Mary Wassermann
Librarian for Collection Development and Management
Philadelphia Museum of Art
PO Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646

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Curated Donation from Thea Westreich and Ethan Wagner increases Brooklyn Museum Libraries’ Holdings on Contemporary and Modern Art / Giana Ricci

This past summer the Brooklyn Museum Libraries received the latest installment of an ongoing major donation from renowned art collectors Thea Westreich and Ethan Wagner. As the 2016-2018 NYARC Kress Fellow, I was given the exciting task of accessioning, cataloging, and documenting this fascinating collection that predominantly pertains to modern and contemporary art from around the world. Spending time with each book and assessing its research topics has allowed me to create rich and accurate catalog records that reflect the importance of each contribution to our collection. While assigning call numbers for each item, I am able to understand how this donation is enriching our collection and where each book belongs within the scope of our entire library. Additionally, each record includes a credit line “From the Library of Thea Westreich and Ethan Wagner” to match the bookplate designed by the donors. Westreich and Wagner started to give part of their private library to the Brooklyn Museum in 2009 and since then over a thousand items have been cataloged ranging from artists books to exhibition catalogs to monographs. By adding specific information to our records listing Thea Westreich and Ethan Wagner as former owners, we allow researchers to easily discover which books once belonged to the donors and are now part of the Brooklyn Museum Libraries.

Many of the books are brand new, such as Body of Art edited by Diane Fortenberry and Rebecca Morrill and published by Phaidon in 2015. Glossy clean pages filled with large color photographs make for a beautiful display piece that also provides a fresh outlook on a heavily researched subject. Other books are older and less common, such as Early Color Photography by Sylvain Roumette and Michael Frizot, the first American edition published by Pantheon Books in 1986, which is now the only copy available in all three NYARC libraries. The acceptance of the Westreich/Wagner donation will allow the Brooklyn Museum Library to support a wider range of research in the field of modern and contemporary art. It can often be hard to supplement a collection through purchases alone. To have a curated collection of books gathered by two extremely knowledgeable and trustworthy art collectors, drastically reduces the amount of resources needed for collection development in this area. The opportunity to interact with this diverse collection has provided me with a chance to not only develop cataloging skills but also to gain a better understanding of the intricacies involved with collection development.

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Fortunato Depero’s “Depero Futurista” facsimile Kickstarter campaign / Steve Kroeter, Designers & Books

The Kickstarter campaign for The Bolted Book facsimile is now live: HERE

Fortunato Depero’s 1927 book, Depero Futurista—also known as The Bolted Book—is widely recognized as a tour de force of avant-garde book-making.

For those of you who believe in the value of facsimile editions, my colleagues at Designers & Books and I are happy to announce that today we are launching a campaign on Kickstarter to publish the first exact copy of Depero¹s book. This initiative for publication of an authorized facsimile edition is a collaboration with The Center for Italian Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto, Italy (which houses the Depero archives).

If funded, the book will be shipped to Kickstarter backers in July of 2017—the year which marks the 90th anniversary of the book¹s publication.

We have devoted a year to preparing this campaign because we believe that Depero¹s book is the perfect example of a work from the past that resonates with the present. Depero’s ideas about how artists relate to their work and to society at large are even more at play now than they were during his lifetime.

Whether you are interested in backing the campaign or merely familiarizing yourself with the contents of the book, you can see the full extent of Depero¹s vision as expressed in his book at

Post Script: see article about this exciting publication in Hyperallergic too. — P. Gabbard

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Mullen Books Announces Occasional Catalog / Kevin Mullen

Mullen Books, of Columbia, PA announces the posting of a Fall Sale catalogue on their website. The catalogue presents over 200 esoteric items noteworthy for their scarcity and price. ARLIS/NA members are encouraged to download the catalogue from our website and spend some quality time with some quality offerings!

Mullen Books specializes in books on the humanities, with a 25 year emphasis on the arts.  Our online database is approaching 95,000 titles. Over 50,000 of these are in stock, and the balance are available for bibliographic research purposes and can be rapidly submitted as a “want” should you wish to be notified when an out-of-stock item re-enters the inventory.

Mullen Books is located in Columbia, PA in a renovated warehouse from 1900, with over 7,000 feet of shelving teeming with books.  We buy and sell individual books of merit and entire libraries of upwards of 35,000 titles. Visits are encouraged, especially by our ARLIS/NA friends! They are always rewarding, and always rewarded!  It’ll be nice to see you and be of service to you.

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Fortunato Depero website / Steve Kroeter (

My colleagues at Designers & Books and I are happy to announce the launch of the website

While many people are aware of the Italian Futurists, it is not unusual at all for the work of Fortunato Depero not to be well known, even among the very knowledgeable.

New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl said that for him Depero’s work at the Guggenheim’s Futurist exhibition was, “a fascinating discovery.”

Having had the chance to get familiar with the wide range of his work, we take his ideas—especially as depicted and described in the monograph he wrote and designed, Depero Futurista—as striking examples of something from the past that resonates with the present.

Designers & Books is collaborating with The Center for Italian Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Trento and Rovereto, Italy (which houses the Depero archives) to help make Depero’s work more visible and accessible. On October 22nd we launched a website that we hope will serve as a go-to online resource for those interested in Depero and Futurism. The site includes the complete contents of Depero Futurista, spread-by-spread, along with images that can be enlarged for closer inspection.

We hope this will help elevate Depero and place him more squarely in the current conversation about the relationship of artists and designs to their work and also their role in contemporary society.