Collection Development - Art and Architecture

Collections Librarian: Brooke Henderson (x3258)


The collection development policy for Art and Architecture guides the development and management of the Art Library collection. This policy is for the use of the Art Librarian and the Art Library's users. The policy will be updated as needed. Faculty and students are encouraged to provide recommendations for library materials.

General purpose of the collection

The Art and Architecture collections support the present and anticipated instructional and research needs of Wellesley College undergraduates, staff, and faculty in the Art department. The primary purpose of the Art Collection is to support the undergraduate curriculum in art history, studio art, and art-related courses in various interdisciplinary concentrations and programs. Within certain limits (based mostly on English vs. foreign language material), the Art Collection supports the basic research interests of the Wellesley faculty and those of the Davis Museum and Cultural Center staff.

The art and architecture collection is housed in the Art Library, a branch library in the Jewett Arts Center, and it provides broad-based coverage of the history, theory, criticism, and practice of the visual arts. The collection primarily reflects the interests of the Department of Art. Primary areas of art history include: Ancient Greek and Near Eastern, Ancient Egyptian and Coptic, Roman, Late Antique, Early Christian and Byzantine, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, African, American, African-American, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Islamic, and Latin American. Materials related to art and architecture are housed in the Art Library located in the Jewett Arts Center. The collections include over 63,000 volumes to support teaching and research in almost all fields of art. While printed sources--books, exhibition catalogs, and periodicals--continue to form its most important collections, the Art Library has significant holdings of other materials as well. Electronic versions of most of the major indexing and abstracting services for current visual arts literature are available through the Wellesley College Library website.

At present the central focus of the Art department and chief interests of the faculty are teaching and research in the areas of Art History and Studio Art. The Department of Art offers majors in the History of Art, Architecture, and Studio Art as well as minors in the History of Art and Studio Art. It is also possible to double major in Studio Art and the History of Art

Scope of Coverage

1. Readership level: The Art and Architecture Collection includes works written for advanced undergraduate level and for basic faculty research; masters-level and research-level publications are collected selectively.

2. Languages collected (primary and selective) or excluded: Materials collected are primarily written in English. Exhibition catalogues and catalogues raisonnés as well as significant monographs and serials in Italian, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, and Chinese also are collected. Limited acquisitions are made in other languages when the publication has a unique value to the collection, i.e., when treatment of the subject is not available in English or in one of the major Western European languages, or when the quality of the reproductions justifies the purchase.

3. Geographical areas covered by the collections in terms of intellectual content, publication sources, or both, and specific areas excluded, as appropriate: No geographical areas are excluded. Western Europe and the United States are the primary areas covered by the collections. Recently, an emphasis on collecting in the visual arts of Asia (particularly China, Japan, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia) and the Middle East has developed, as well as in Africa and Latin America. Material collected is published mainly in the United States and Western Europe.

4. Chronological periods covered by the collection in terms of intellectual content, movements or schools, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate: Western, Eastern, and African art from prehistory through the twenty-first century are covered; no one historical period is emphasized.

5. Chronological periods collected in terms of publication dates: Current material is collected primarily. Earlier material is purchased to fill in a series gap, to replace a significant work that is missing or damaged, or in response to faculty and student recommendations.

General subject boundaries & library locations

The subject scope of this collection is determined by the Library of Congress classifications:

AM 1-501 - Museums. Collectors and Collecting (selective)
N - Visual Arts--General
NA - Architecture
NB - Sculpture
NC - Illustration, Design, Drawing
ND - Painting
NE - Printing
NK - Decorative Arts, Applied Arts
NX - Arts in General (e.g. patronage, performance art, art theory, criticism)
SB - Landscape Gardening, Landscape Architecture (selective)
TR - History and Aesthetics of Photography
Z 5931-5961 - Art History Bibliography (selective)

    1. Special Subject Emphases: Traditionally, the Art and Architecture collection has emphasized coverage of the United States and Europe.

    2. Current Collecting Priorities: In addition to the above, the collections holdings in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa have been given priority.

    3. Subjects Collected Selectively: The Art and Architecture collection contains fewer volumes and is increased more selectively in the following geographic areas: Scandinavia and Oceana.

    Materials are primarily acquired for the circulating collection and reference and are housed in the Art Library in the Jewett Arts Center. Facsimile reproductions, costly books of art reproductions, collections in loose leaf, or books that are likely targets for vandalism are non-circulating and are housed in the Art Case within the Art Library.

    Special Collections: Contains an extensive collection of artists' books, illuminated manuscripts, and books with significant illustrations. The Guy Walker, Jr. Collection, which consists of 384 volumes documenting the history of book illustration. The most beautiful and significant specimens of each century are here assembled to demonstrate the use of various media and styles in the printed book. From early illuminated manuscripts to twentieth century livres de peintre, the Guy Walker, Jr. Collection complements the Book Arts Collection, which consists of over 3,500 volumes documenting all aspects of book production including printing, illustration, and binding. In addition, there are over 4,000 volumes of specimens, ranging from the great typographers such as Aldus, Baskerville and Bodoni up to the twentieth-century renaissance of modern fine printing. Here, for example, one can find works from the Kelmscott Press side by side with works by contemporary book artists, such as Claire Van Vliet and Ron King, including limited editions, innovative binding structures, handmade papers, and unique artists' books.

    Related subjects and Interdisciplinary relationships

    In addition to the support of the specific degree programs of the Art Department, the collection also serves as a resource for undergraduate students and faculty in other areas and disciplines, and the Art Selector as appropriate may consult with other subject selectors. Some Art courses are options in various interdisciplinary studies concentrations and programs as well.

    Africana Studies: Art collections librarian selects material related to the art and architecture of Africa and African-American culture

    American Studies: Art collections librarian selects material related to American art and architecture as well as some Latin American visual arts material to support courses which can be applied to the American Studies program.

    Anthropology: The anthropology and art collections librarians may collaborate on works dealing with archaeological sites and excavations.

    Biology: The biology and art collections librarians may collaborate on works dealing with horticulture and garden and landscape arts.

    Chinese Studies: Art collections librarian selects material related to the art and architecture of East Asia.

    Cinema & Media Studies: The CAMS collections librarian selects material relating to cinema as an art form; the art collections librarian selects materials on applied photography, video- and film-making, on photography as an art form.

    Classical Studies: The classical studies and art collections librarians may collaborate on works dealing with the art and architecture of classical antiquity.

    French Cultural Studies: Art collections librarian selects material related to the art and architecture of France.

    Jewish Studies: Art collections librarian selects material related to Jewish art and architecture.

    Latin American Studies: Art collections librarian selects material related to the art and architecture of Latin America.

    Media Arts & Sciences: The Art Librarian selects works related to the visual arts, including material on photography, printmaking, filmmaking and history of film, video production, and new media.

    Medieval/Renaissance Studies: Art collections librarian selects material related to Medieval and Renaissance art and architecture.

    Middle Eastern Studies: The Art collections librarian has primary responsibility for works dealing with Middle Eastern art and architecture.

    Music: The Art Librarian and Music Librarian collaborate on works dealing with the relationship between art and music. The Music Librarian selects works dealing with the architecture of opera theaters, concert halls and other buildings for music performance.

    Philosophy: The art collections librarian and philosophy collections librarian collaborate on works dealing with aesthetics and the philosophy of art.

    Religion: The Art Librarian has primary responsibility for selecting works on religious art and architecture, especially works dealing with religious iconography.

    Theatre Studies: The theatre collections librarian and the Music Librarian have primary responsibility for works dealing with performance art.

    Women's Studies: The art collections librarian and women's studies collections librarian collaborate on works dealing with women and the visual arts. The art collections librarian has primary responsibility for selecting material on women artists, women's place in the art world, and the portrayal of women in art and the media.

      Types of Materials


      Current trade, university press, and institutional publications acquired, including selected gallery guides and reports, catalogues raisonnés, and exhibition catalogs from museums, galleries, or private collections in the United States and abroad. Monographic subjects include individual artists or architects, iconographic studies, artistic movements, thematic concepts, artistic genre, art theory, critical theory, and race as well as gender studies in relation to art. Limited acquisition of retrospective materials.


      Subscriptions primarily to English-language journals and monthly magazines in art and art history, and to annuals and serial publications of prominent museums and galleries. Monographs published in series are purchased individually based on relevance to the collection.

      Reference Materials

      Up-to-date English-language encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, catalogs, iconography sources, and research guides. Selective acquisition of directories and other guides to the current art scene. Very selective acquisition of newly published foreign language reference materials.

      Electronic Resources

      Selected specialized indexing, abstracting, full text, and image resources in art and art history primarily to support undergraduate and interdisciplinary research.


      Microform reproductions are generally not collected but not entirely excluded.


      Generally not collected unless subject area is directly related to the needs of the curriculum (usually purchased only by faculty recommendation)

      Conference Proceedings

      Collected selectively, usually as a result of faculty recommendation.


      Acquisition is primarily curriculum-based as requested by faculty to support instruction. Some videos of wide interest (such as PBS programs) purchased to enhance general art collection. Preferred medium is now DVD (if available) over videocassette.


      Area open to development based on faculty demand and as technology becomes more available in classrooms. Collecting in the area will also increase with….

      Artists' Books

      Not collected unless produced by a major artist and directly related to curriculum.

      Facsimile Editions

      Very selectively purchased (depending upon available funding) to support established special collections.


      Art objects, slides, instructional manuals, ephemera, and foreign language dissertations are not collected as well as material on collectibles and domestic interior design.