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Subject guides: Art

CL Library Art Subject Room

This guide gives information about:

Follow @UCLArtLibrary on Twitter to keep up to date with new resources.


Explore is the Library's search facility for accessing print and electronic materials. It incorporates the catalogue of books and journal titles with access to selected journal contents, achive materials, exam papers and the research publications repository.


Printed collections

The Art collection is in the Main Library (Wilkins Building) in the South Junction reading rooms on the first floor. See separate pages for maps and opening hours.

Books in the Main Library

A classmark (shelf location) beginning with the word ART refers to a book on the open shelves in the Art reading rooms.

The Art collection comprises Fine Art, History of Art and Film, broadly arranged as follows:

  • Section A: art generally, including historiography, museology, curating and the art market
  • Sections BA – BK: philosophy, aesthetics, criticism and cultural studies
  • Sections C – M: topical, chronological and geographic sequences
  • Sections P – PR: applied and performing arts, graphics, costume, theatre and vernacular
  • Section Q – QN: film studies
  • Section R: photography
  • Section T: techniques, colour, materials, conservation

Click here for a detailed version of the classification scheme for Art.

Books in Stores

A classmark beginning with the word STORE refers to a work housed away from the UCL Main Library. For these items, you will need to make a Store request via Explore or fill in the online store request form. Most but not all items in Store are borrowable and can usually be collected from the Science Library Assistance Desk from 3pm the following day.

See the special arrangements for obtaining materials held in Store.

Rare Art books

A classmark beginning with ART RARE refers to an item in Special Collections: these items are not borrowable and are currently in temporary storage at the Library's Special Collections. See the Special Collections website for access details.

Other collections in the Main Library

Some of the other main sections of UCL Library Services you are likely to need are:

HISTORY (Main Library, 2nd floor): extensive coverage of European, Latin American and United States social, political and economic history; a special collection on London History

BARTLETT (5th Floor, Wates House, 22 Gordon Street): architecture, interior and spatial design, and town planning

ARCHAEOLOGY (Institute of Archaeology, Gordon Square): ancient art, conservation, museum studies

PHILOSOPHY (Main Library, South Corridor): theory and criticism

ANTHROPOLOGY (Science Library, DMS Watson Building, 2nd Floor): film, gender studies, fashion, culture


The library subscribes to Art periodicals in both print and electronic format. Print periodicals are shelved in the South Junction reading rooms next to the book collection. All Art periodicals are for reference use only and cannot be removed from the library but articles may be photocopied, subject to copyright restrictions. Older titles and those which are also available electronically are kept in Stores. There are special arrangements for obtaining materials held in Store. The holdings record of each title on the library catalogue via Explore will tell you exactly where any volume is held.

Titles of journals and selected contents can be searched in Explore. More extensive searches of journal contents can be undertaken by using the relevant databases, or by accessing the electronic version of the journal where available.

There is also a Special Collection of Small Press materials, comprising Little Magazines, Alternative Presses, and the Poetry Store. These collections include a number of independently published artists' magazines and other avant-garde publications and items are available to view by appointment only.


UCL Library subscribes to several indexes of completed theses. There are also a number of open access repositories which contain the full text of research theses. In addition, ADIT: The Art & Design Index to Theses is a comprehensive index of postgraduate research theses in art and design in the UK developed by a consortium of UK higher education institutions.

Audio Visual Collections

Feature films, documentary etc.

Feature films on DVD are shelved in the Main Library Issue Desk area and VHS tapes are kept in the Main Library Photocopying room. Titles can be located on Explore by searching the Library Catalogue and refining results to Audio Visual. These are available to borrow for either short (up to two days) or one week loan. Some DVDs are for reference only and must be used in the viewing room which is adjacent to the Main Library Reference Room (see below).

The feature films on DVD are arranged alphabetically by nationality of the director. For example:

DVD FRA:TRU (France : Truffaut)
DVD GBR:LOA (Great Britain : Loach)
DVD GER:HER (Germany : Herzog)
DVD SPA:ALM (Spain : Almodovar)
DVD USA:LYN (United States : Lynch)

Art audio-visual

Art related audio visual material (DVD, VHS, and audio CD) are shelved in the Art reading rooms, adjacent to the Art periodicals. These include interviews with artists and examples of their work, and have the shelfmark ART AV. Note: the DVD cases on the shelves are empty and discs must be collected from the Issue Desk.

Main Library Viewing Room

There is a viewing room in the Main Library which has facilities for DVD, VHS, Blu-ray and audio CD formats. There are 4 viewing stations and headphones and remote control handsets can be borrowed from the Issue Desk.

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Electronic collections

Material held in electronic form is available to registered members of UCL; if you are offsite, you will usually need your user ID/password to gain access. Explore is the first point of access for electronic resources, but more in-depth searching of subject specific databases can be done from the Databases section on the Library website.

Databases and e-journal collections

Journal articles in either print or electronic format can be located using either an abstracting and indexing database or an e-journal collection. Some of these resources are entirely full text, some provide a mixture of full text articles and citations, while others are abstracting and indexing databases, providing references to texts from other sources (both electronic and print).

Individual e-journals can be located by title using the library catalogue via Explore or via one of the e-journal collections listed below. When using the library catalogue to locate e-journals, always check the holdings statement to see which issues are available electronically.

* indicates full text resource

  • Art, Design & Architecture Collection (ProQuest)*: a collection of abstracting & indexing and full text resources, including:
    • ARTbibliographies Modern: covering modern and contemporary art from 1974 onwards.
    • Design and Applied Arts Index (DAAI): abstracts and bibliographic records for articles, news items, and reviews published in design and applied arts periodicals from 1973 onwards.
    • International Bibliography of Art: Covers literature published from 2008 onwards on European art from late antiquity to the present, American art from the colonial era to the present, and global art since 1945. Succeeds the Bibliography of the History of Art (literature on western art published 1990-2007).
  • Art Source (Ebsco)*: a comprehensive art and design resource consisting of the following databases, as well as an additional 100 full text titles and image collections:
    • Art Full Text*: index of abstracts and selected full text of articles from art periodicals published throughout the world. Index 1984-, abstracts 1994-, full text 1997-.
    • Art Retrospective: index of art periodicals published throughout the world, 1929-1984. See Art Full Text for subsequent abstracts and full texts from this index.
  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index: indexes journals published in all areas of humanities since 1975. Part of the Web of Science.
  • Berg Fashion Library*: includes the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, 760 original articles on countries, themes, cultural groups, and dress types, c.60 Berg fashion e-books, and an extensive colour image bank including 1,600 images from the V&A Museum’s fashion collection and 2,000 from the print Encyclopedia.
  • Bibliography of the History of Art: Covers scholarly literature on western art published 1990-2007. For 2008 onwards see the International Bibliography of Art.
  • JSTOR*: full text archive of important scholarly journals, including over 100 art titles.
  • Oxford Art Online*: a collection of full text resources consisting of:
    • Grove Art Online: entire text of The Dictionary of Art, searchable with extensive image links.
    • Benezit Dictionary of Artists: nearly 170,000 entries on artists from antiquity to the present day.
    • Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms: dictionary of around 1800 entries on art terms, critical periods, and styles in the visual arts.
    • Oxford Companion to Western Art: reference work containing more than 2,600 entries and coverage of over 1,700 artists.
    • Encyclopedia of Aesthetics: interdisciplinary encyclopaedia of more than 600 articles on all aspects of aesthetics.

A full list of databases with significant Art content can be found here. Follow this link for a complete list of the databases available at UCL Library Services. As well as Art related databases, other subjects with relevant resources are Anthropology, Architecture, Film Studies, History, and Philosophy.

Online newspaper archives

Newspaper archives are an excellent source of information on exhibitions, including reviews and interviews with artists.

  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers: a collection of US and UK newspapers, 1791-2007. Includes the archive of The Guardian (1821-2003) and The Observer (1791-2003) as well as many major US titles such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.
  • Nexis UK: current newspapers from around the world, from the 1980s to the present.
  • Times Digital Archive: full text of The Times (London) 1785-1985.

Image resources

The Library provides access to several subscription based image databases which consist of high quality, copyright cleared images for use in education. See below for other freely available web-based image resources.

  • Art Museum Image Gallery: collection of digital art images and related multimedia gathered from the collections of distinguished museums around the world. Images are rights-cleared for educational use.
  • Bridgeman Education: access to over 390,000 images sourced from the world’s leading museums, galleries, contemporary artists and private collections.

See also, via Senate House Library:

  • ARTstor: a collection of nearly 500,000 digital images covering architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, and design as well as many other forms of visual and material culture. You must be a member of Senate House Library to access this database.

Audio visual resources

The Library provides access to several audio visual databases available only for use in education. For further freely available web-based resources see here.

  • BFI Screenonline : encyclopedia of British film and television, including clips from the BFI National Archive, supplemented by contextual material from expert writers.
  • British Library Archival Sound Recordings: a range of recordings from the British Library's audio archives which can be downloaded or streamed, including art & design interviews and soundscapes.
  • JISC Media Hub: video, image and audio resources including film archives, documentary materials, public information films, and television and cinema newsreels selected from the ITN/Reuters television archives.
  • Arts on Film Archive: a large range of films on art produced in the United Kingdom since the 1950s. Accessible only from an ac.uk domain.

Exam papers

Copies of some UCL examination papers for History of Art are now available online from 2000 onwards.

Printed copies of UCL exam papers for History of Art are held in the Main Library.

Other Web resources

Web resources useful for History of Art and Fine Art include:

  • BFI InView: over 2,000 non-fiction film and television titles from the 20th century to the early 21st selected from the vast holdings of the BFI National Archive.
  • CAMEO: Conservation and Art Material Encyclopedia Online: developed by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
  • The Commons on Flikr: image collections donated by cultural institutions from around the world, free to use under the Creative Commons licence.
  • Guggenheim: From The Archives: a collection of 99 Guggenheim exhibition catalogues freely available in full text.
  • LIFE Photo Archive: hosted by Google, millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today.
  • MetPublications: a portal to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's comprehensive book and online publishing program with hundreds of back catalogue titles published from 1964 available in full text.
  • Tate on YouTube and Tate Channel: a range of videos from interviews with artists to experimental artist commissions.
  • Ubuweb: an 'independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts' which includes a vast selection of avant-garde texts and conceptual writing, sound and video files.

Follow @UCLArtLibrary on Twitter to keep up to date with new resources.

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Other libraries

All students registered at UCL are entitled to obtain a borrowing card for the Senate House Library. Reference access to other University of London Libraries is available to students registered at UCL.

Other libraries may have strict admission criteria. For information on opening hours and access to other Art libraries in London, see the guide to London Art libraries produced by the London Art History Libraries Forum.

There are several online catalogues to help you locate books and periodicals not held by UCL, including:

  • COPAC: searches the catalogues of over 70 UK and Irish academic, national & specialist libraries.
  • Search25: joint catalogue for academic libraries in London, the East and South East of England.
  • arlis.net: a database for locating art, architecture and design periodicals in UK libraries, and a related directory of art library resources in general. Produced by the UK & Ireland Art Libraries Society and hosted by the National Art Library at the V&A.
  • artlibraries.net: Virtual Catalogue for Art History, which provides the ability to cross-search the catalogues of many major art libraries simultaneously. Institutions include the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Documenta Archive in Kassel.
  • SUNCAT: Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Search for periodicals held by contributing libraries, including the British Film Institute, the National Art Library, the Tate Library, and the University of the Arts London.

More information is available about the use of other libraries.

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Contact details

If you have any problems using the Library, go to the Enquiry Desk, or ask the Subject Librarian for Art:

Liz Lawes
E-mail: e.lawes@ucl.ac.uk
Telephone: internal: 32594; external: 020 7679 2594


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Last modified 01 October 2013

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