ARLIS/NA Collection Development SIG Blog

For ARLIS/NA members interested in collection development issues.

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NEW BOOK OFFERED FOR FREE TO LIBRARIES THAT COLLECT ARCHITECTURAL TITLES: , The Art of Inequality: Architecture, Housing, and Real Estate — A Provisional Report / Jacob Moore.

Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture was founded in 1982. Its mission is to advance the interdisciplinary study of American architecture, urbanism, and landscape. A separately endowed entity within the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, it sponsors research projects, workshops, public programs, publications, and awards.

The following publication, The Art of Inequality: Architecture, Housing, and Real Estate — A Provisional Report (details below) is now available for shipment to architectural libraries across the country. You may request copies via Jacob Moore at If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

2015 Jacob Moore edited
The Art of Inequality: Architecture, Housing, and Real Estate

A Provisional Report
240 pages, Illustrated, ISBN: 978-1-941332-22-1
Reinhold Martin, Jacob Moore, and Susanne Schindler, eds.
With contributions by Manuel Shvartzberg Carrió, Erik Carver, Cezar Nicolescu, Pollyanna Rhee, and Sonya Ursell

From The Art of Inequality: Architecture, Housing, and Real Estate — A Provisional Report:

In 2013, in the United States, the median-income white household’s net worth was thirteen times that of the median-income black household. In 2014, the world’s eighty-five richest individuals held as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.5 billion. In 2015, 88,000 households applied for the chance to live in fifty-five below market-rate apartments, accessible through a “poor door” on New York City’s Upper West Side.

What is inequality? Typically, inequality is defined by a combination of economic measures referring to income and wealth. Entire populations, in the language of statistics, are measured and managed according to their place on the inequality spectrum: patronage for the 1%, morality for the ambiguous “middle class,” and austerity for the rest. This economic inequality is, however, inseparable from social disparities of other kinds—particularly in the provision of housing. More than just a building type or a market sector, housing is a primary architectural act—where architecture is understood as that which makes real estate real. It begins when a line is drawn that separates inside from outside, and ultimately, one house from another. The relation that results under the rule of real estate development is—by its very structure—unequal.

This is the art of inequality. Its geographies are local and global. Its histories are distant and present. Its design is ongoing. Its future is anything but certain.


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Our Offsite Storage Conundrum /Anne Champagne

Anne Champaigne oakgroveThree years ago, having outgrown its stacks space, the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago made arrangements with Northwestern University Library to house a portion of its collection at NU’s book storage facility in Waukegan, Illinois, 40 miles north of Chicago. The terms of the arrangement are fairly straightforward: NU houses our material in a state-of-the-art facility and they load our MARC records in their catalog so that their students and faculty may use our materials. When we want one of our books, they send it by overnight courier and our patron has it in hand the next day. At present, approximately 40,000 books have been sent off-site; in order to obtain adequate elbow room in the stacks, we would like that number to be closer to 100,000.

As one would expect, the most difficult aspect of this process has not been working out the logistics or fielding patron concerns, but deciding which materials to send off-site. Our goal has been to inconvenience our researchers as little as possible and to minimize the staff time necessary to request and return off-site materials; in other words, we have tried to determine which items are in low demand, and likely to stay that way. Our selection criteria have hinged on imprint date and circulation data.

Three years and 40,000 books later, we have picked all the low-hanging fruit and sent it to Waukegan. We are now at a stage where we must review our selection criteria. In addition to simply broadening the categories of eligible materials to send off-site, we might also consider developing a deeper reciprocity agreement with NU that would allow us to withdraw certain items from our collection. Another possibility is to initiate a digitization project to provide virtual access instead of physical access to parts of the collection. The challenge is to think creatively about how best to preserve the strengths of the collection, serve our patrons, minimize the impact on library staff, and save money. What selections criteria have other institutions used to make these painful decisions?

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New publication: Rembrandt’s Changing Impressions / Chris Sala

Rembrandt’s Changing Impressions

Catalog for an exhibition held at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Galley, New York from September 9, 2015 to December 12, 2015. Curated by Robert Fucci.

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) manipulated his copperplates in unprecedented ways to achieve printed images that were often in flux. That many of the different results were circulated as finished works in their own right marked a new moment in the appreciation of printmaking and the collecting of prints in the seventeenth century.

Rembrandt was the first artist to treat the print medium as a means of crafting visibly changing images. He was also the first printmaker to fully explore the use of newly available Asian papers for their aesthetic and technical effects. Many of these variations were the outcome of Rembrandt’s intense and restless search for results that satisfied his artistic sense. Others – especially among the portraits – were probably produced at the instigation of some of his print connoisseur patrons,  a prospect that this exhibition explores further.

Rembrandt’s Changing Impressions highlights 18 of the artist’s most notably intriguing or dramatically altered prints. It gathers together 52 impressions from 14 different U.S. collections to best show the images in their circulated iterations. All of the works exhibited here were produced during Rembrandt’s lifetime, and almost all were likely printed by the artist himself or under his direct supervision. (from exhibit webpage)

Book available at


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Collection Development for a Public/Private Special Collection / Suzy Frechette

St Louis Public Library Special Collections Reading roomThe St. Louis Public Library is fortunate to have a very special architectural collection that is a sometimes awkward hybrid — a restricted rare book room that lives in a busy urban public library. The nucleus of the Steedman Architectural Library was given to SLPL in 1928; the donor, George Fox Steedman, also paid to have a special room designed and built especially to house it. Some of the most influential and beautiful architecture books ever published were part of this original group, such as early editions of Vitruvius, Alberti, Palladio, Frank Lloyd Wright, and a 21-volume set of Piranesi’s works. Mr. Steedman also set up a modest endowment that can only be used to purchase new books for the collection. His intention was to give local architects access to the greatest books of architecture, thereby inspiring them to design great works in St. Louis. We allow architects, architectural historians, and other serious researchers access to the books. The room is not open for browsing, and patrons cannot stay in it by themselves. For more background, and over 400 images of the books, check out

One of my duties as head of the Fine Arts Department is to be in charge of this collection, and it has been my privilege and joy add to it during my 25 years here. There are many factors to consider when seeking worthy additions. A “Steedman Book” has to be highly important in some way, whether it is the definitive monograph on an architect or building, an historic treatise that changed the course of architecture, or a lavish book documenting a body of work. Pattern books or other works that were used by working architects, that inform our understanding of architectural history, are a valued component of the library as well.

Of course, I must stay within my budget each year. That has varied widely over the years, depending on interest rates and even some institutional politics. And, the original donation was so rich and deep, and my predecessors made such wise additions, that it is sometimes difficult to find truly important titles to add.

When I have money to spend, I first check the listings of our current or former ARLIS/NA vendor supporters such as Peter Bernett, Eric Chiam Kline, Ars Libri, Michael Shamansky, and Marilyn Braiterman. I have bought from other antiquarian dealers who specialize in architecture, such as The Bookpress, Ltd. I try to buy most frequently from Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America members; the ABAA website is a rich resource for items for sale and for comparison shopping.

I can’t forget new books, though, for they can be bargains in this context. The price of an expensive new book about an influential contemporary architect, published by someone such as Taschen, Rizzoli, or Monacelli Press, may look fairly steep today, but when it goes out of print, its price on the secondary market will soar. I’ve also found some wonderful newly published titles in the Exhibits Hall at ARLIS/NA annual conferences.

Although it is definitely a challenge, I greatly enjoy the wonderful people and beautiful books that I have been able to get to know while developing this great collection.

–Suzy Frechette (

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The Academic Art Library and Consortial Collections / Sarah Falls, Ohio State University.

Art libraries and their collections are ecosystems unique to their institutions, forged by institutional priorities, cultural prerogatives and the savvy decisions of their selectors. Through the years, I have worked in multiple collections that reflect the needs of their users and institutions, but seemed to be insulated from factors that create universal collections decisions in libraries. Our status as special and departmental allowed us to curate around areas of interest to our users, while creating a basic and underlying corpus of research materials from which to work. We continued to collect print, for instance, and held firmly on to our bound journals as institutions felt they could withdraw those digitized by such vendors as JSTOR. The large, the unique, the artist rendered, the folio, the moving image—all of these formats and more exist under our roofs to help promote the study of the visual.

So, as subject librarians—how do we engage with collaborative collection development and still maintain a certain level of curated uniqueness within our libraries? How do we collect materials that represent the canon for basic research—or do we even need to do that anymore? These are critical questions that I have asked myself since beginning my job as Head of the Fine Arts Library at the Ohio State University. Here, the Fine Arts Library, our collecting happens within a very large university setting (and we are very large!) but also within the statewide consortium of over 100 institutions called OhioLINK. OhioLINK has a shared borrowing program that enables researchers throughout the state to borrow materials from member institutions, private and public, academic and public libraries. Researchers order them from the catalog interface and receive them within days. For the librarian who selects materials for a subject-specific library, purchasing certain materials must be weighed against their availability in the OhioLINK system. While most institutions allow their selectors to purchase materials as they see fit for their collections, a benchmark of five circulating copies within the system is observed by many. In such a system, materials are acquired based not only on the connection to institutional need and collecting policies, but also the speed at which an order can be placed. Here at OSU, we only acquire one institutional copy—and there are many times that I feel in competition with other subject librarians in area studies, architecture and other departments, to get that one copy for my collection.

While this collection environment closes one door…it opens the proverbial Sound of Music window. What materials do I focus on collecting? Instead of buying trade publications, I focus on exhibition catalogs, from more international venues. I order scholarly volumes on the history of art, and I look for unique purchases, such as small artist archives and artist books. Perhaps in the long run, this kind of work will steer us closer to the being considered a campus special collection. In the meanwhile, I also hope to re-energize our space—which has become more of a study hall with a two-story book stack than and the engaged, active art library that it could be. Working with unique materials, perhaps those that directly connect to teaching strategies, allows me to bring a broader range of students to the art library. Artist books are a wonderful way to explore the narrative, story-telling properties of the book as art medium with first and second year writing students, for instance. Many of these kinds of materials lend themselves to exhibitions, or even better, a Fine Arts professor embedding them within an assignment, and the students bringing their works back at the end of the semester for an exhibit and opening. In this way, the opportunity to collect materials that directly connect to the student learning experience is enriching for me. Rather than collecting what we might use, we collect what we will use.

2015-04-29 20.11.13


Exhibition: Not Your Average Codex by Department of Art, Book Arts Course, Spring 2015, displayed in the Ohio State University Fine Arts Library.

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The Package Deal / Barbara Opar, Syracuse University

Another fiscal year has ended and my library again was able to use unspent and reserve funds to acquire a number of large sets, including digital packages. One of these purchases is directly tied to my discipline so I am grateful for our ability to acquire such materials. However, I am also aware that not every institution uses funds this way or makes such a commitment to large packages– even those institutions with stronger collections budgets.

So I would like to review reasons for and against large purchases. Purchasing large sets at the end of the fiscal year is an easy way to spend down the budget and make a big impact. These resources are the kinds that one can advertise on library sites and describe in newsletters. To some extent, our library sets aside some funds specifically in order to make such purchases, intended to offer new content to a broad spectrum of the user population.

Large packages are often cross disciplinary- so do serve the community at large. As pre-selected content, the end use does not need to spend time trying to locate appropriate material- it is there conveniently prepackaged. Such packages allow the library to quickly build up a collection of resources to meet new program needs.

So what is the downside to such spending practices? Title by tile selection is not available to the librarian. Not all important academic content has been packaged or digitized. Scholarly titles may account for a very small percentage of the e-market. Duplication of existing materials in the collection may occur. Vendors are generally free to add or remove content during the negotiation process. While digitized content is most often of high quality, sometimes licensing agreements preclude inclusion. So the user assumption that the prepackaged content contains all the necessary material may not be accurate.

Large packages, especially digital ones, are not always cataloged down to the title level. Vendor supplied cataloging and search engines are making it easier to identify such material. Vendor access policies also vary greatly; the number of pages that can be printed may be limited. Preservation and maintenance of e-packages presents unique problems to the library already operating with less than optimal staffing. And what about the content that is not used or useful?

The pros and cons of large (digital) packages are considerations which must be weighed against the content being offered. E-packages allow 24/7 access. Archival content – not previously available – may only be offered via subscription to the whole. Such content may be new or just reformatted.

There is no right or wrong to the practice of acquiring this type of content. While the librarian may wish to have more monies available for title by title selection at a smaller scale, this may not be an option at the time.

My interest in writing this blog is not to challenge the purchasing method but rather to have collections librarians understand the differences in their institutions buying practices, share their thoughts with colleagues and learn from such discussions. Clearly more research on this is needed and should be considered. But as a start, I would certainly welcome your thoughts. Contact me at

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New publication announcement: Cutting Edge Art in Havana

510wP6vpbwL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ Cutting Edge Art in Havana : 100 Cuban Artists / Mayret González-Martínez, Yoanna Toledo-Leyva. –    Philadelphia, PA : ATLA Group, LTD, 322 p. with 487 color ill. 23cm. (2015) (ISBN 9780986443336) (pbk)
Book Webpage:
Details on Publisher:
ATLA Group, Ltd
1720 N. 5th Street #T-204
Philadelphia, PA, 19122 USA
Contact: Anthony Rubenstein,
Price:  $59.95
Available from:  Ingram Books  & Amazon & Worldwide Books


Cutting Edge Art in Havana is the definitive Cuban Contemporary Art book. This must-have reference is both an art catalog profiling more than one hundred Cuban artists living and working in Havana today, and a travel guide to Havana’s dynamic arts and culture panorama. Designed to be both practical and portable, it’s a an art catalog for anyone interested in Latin American or Cuban contemporary art, and a travel guide for anyone planning a visit to Havana.

Cutting Edge Art in Havana profiles more than one hundred Cuban contemporary artists ranging from well-known artists appearing in major international collections to new artists just beginning their careers. Complete with artists’ biographical, professional, and contact information, and fully illustrated with representative works selected by the artists themselves, Cutting Edge Art in Havana presents all this information cross-referenced with detailed maps to the artists’ workshops and studios, alongside Havana’s museums and cultural centers, alternative and independent exhibition spaces, and even our curators’ suggestions for the best places to eat and drink in Havana.

Cutting Edge Art in Havana is the most exhaustive and up-to-date Cuban contemporary art guide book/catalog available. This indispensable resource is the result of an exhaustive one-year curatorial process and field study by a team of Cuban curators and art historians.

                                                   ARTIST’S PROFILE EXAMPLE:





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