Department of Art
Gerald T. Burke, Subject Librarian
I. General Purpose
The primary purpose of the University Libraries' collection in art is to support the Art Department's B.A., M.A. and Master of Fine Arts programs; faculty research is also fully supported. While the emphasis of the undergraduate and graduate degree programs is on studio art, students can also have an undergraduate concentration in art history. These programs are reflected in the Libraries' collection of monographs, periodicals, exhibition catalogs, videos, and multimedia material which contain reproductions and discussions of the works of contemporary and historical artists.
II. Subject and Language Modifiers
Languages: Whenever possible, material written in the English language is collected. This is especially true for art history. Material is collected in other languages (e.g., French, Italian, German) when English versions are not available. Since it is not unusual for the text of a generously illustrated art monograph to be of minor impact to the usefulness of the book, in some cases the ability of students and faculty to read the text is not the major consideration in a purchase decision.
Geographical Areas: Emphasis is on the art of Europe; North, South, Central America; the Caribbean; and Africa. Materials on the arts of other areas of the world are also purchased, most notably the Middle and Far East. Some attention is given to the art of indigenous peoples of various parts of the world; this is often purchased in consultation with subject librarians for area studies, History, and Anthropology.
Chronological Periods and Subjects: In the area of art history, all periods of world art are covered. There is an emerging interest in several specific areas, especially Islamic art, Medieval art, Dutch and Flemish art, Postmodern art, and Multimedia & Installation art. There is also a specialization in Photography, for which a substantial number of videos are required for teaching. For studio art, emphasis is given to contemporary art in all media. Also, film is taught extensively in the Art Department, specifically European and American "masters" of film. These films are selected in close consultation with the faculty teaching those classes and the department chair.
III. Description of Materials Collected
Types of Materials Collected: The Library collects monographs, serials, journals, newspapers, documents, exhibition catalogs, and art history textbooks. Audio/visual materials, especially videotapes and interactive video discs of artists and the collections of major museums are purchased as funds permit. Books on architecture, interior decoration, and the decorative arts are purchased occasionally to support the art history program.
Types of Materials Excluded: The Library does not collect special-format material that requires special handling such as reproductions, pamphlets, clippings, photographs, manuscript material, and original art works. These materials may be accepted as gifts on an individual basis to be housed in Special Collections. Dissertations are purchased only on faculty request.
IV. Subject and Collection Levels [Collection Level Descriptions]
Emphasis is on material concerned with artists who worked or are working with media taught in the Studio Art programs (painting, drawing, sculpture, installations, graphics, photography, digital media, and stained glass) and on art history materials to support the undergraduate and graduate art history courses as well as faculty research needs. All materials are collected at the Advanced Instructional Support Level.
V. Other Significant Collections and Resource Sharing
The New York State Library has an excellent art collection, particularly of older works, and items are available on interlibrary loan to undergraduates and by borrowing directly by faculty and graduate students. Because Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has programs in architecture and electronic art, the collection of books and periodicals at that institution on these subjects is often used by Albany's students and faculty. Similarly, the University at Albany Libraries serve as a resource to RPI students in electronic art, an area where our collection is stronger.
VI. Internal Notes
The Library has an approval plan with Worldwide Books for exhibition catalogs from major exhibits worldwide which includes catalogs in English and in European languages. The Blackwell North American (BNA) approval plan exclude exhibition catalogs, but we receive many monographs on artists, artistic movements, and art history from this plan.
There are many requests from the art historians on the faculty for titles not included on approval plans; there are also many titles published by publishers not covered by approval plan dealers which must be purchased from discretionary funds.
The Library owns interactive video discs of the collections of the National Gallery of Art and of the Louvre. As other collections become available on video disc or other multimedia, they should be purchased. Videotapes of artists are acquired at the request of faculty; many are needed for courses in Photography.
Books on classical art -- Greek vase painting, classical sculpture, mosaics -- are purchased from art funds. Materials on Far Eastern art are also purchased with art funds.
Titles for the Reference collection are purchased by the Subject Librarian for Reference upon the recommendation of the Art Subject Librarian.