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?