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Art History: Books

Guide to finding information on historical and current art and architecture.


Using Books for Background Information

Books are the best library resources for comprehensive information.  They tend to cover issues in depth and at great length.  However, they are not as current as sources in periodicals or the internet.  They are excellent for obtaining background information on a topic and to develop a list of relevant keywords with which to search.

In order to use a book effectively, you may not need to read the entire book.  Browse the Table of Contents at the front of the book for chapter contents, and the index in the back of the book for the pages on which shorter amounts of information are located. 

Ask the librarian for assistance.

Library Book Call Numbers

Information on Art and Art Hisory is usually found at call numbers (book shelf addresses) beginning with N.   The call numbers are the same across the branch libraries.  However, history books also include information on art of the period and place covered in the book.  See the History Resources guide:

Library Locations


Elizabeth Sturm Library, Dandini Campus (the Main Library)


Redfield Branch, Health Science Center

Library Reference Collection 

Reference books are condensed, authoritative books such as encyclopedias.  Many reference books contain primary sources and original documents. 

General Collection  

Very large and very good collection, shelved mainly on the second floor of the Main Library.  Ask the Reference Librarians for assistance.  These books are allowed to leave the library.

Online Books in the Book and Video Catalog

To limit your search to online books, select ‘Advanced search.’  Select ‘Online Library’ on the Location line.  The title will include this phrase in brackets:  [electronic resource]. 

Starry Night

Single Artists Work and Commentary

Art Movements

Art Museums

Art Instruction

Art History