Book Library Blog

Book Library Blog No Longer Active

Friday, 17 July, 2015 by ltemblequeteres

This blog will no longer be updated or have new content added.  Existing posts will remain available for the foreseeable future. 

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Two new e-resources: The Vogue Archive and Early European Books

Monday, 9 June, 2014 by Nick Brown

The Courtauld has recently acquired access to two new online databases, the Vogue Archive and Early European Books.

The Vogue Archive


The Vogue Archive contains the entire run of Vogue magazine (US edition), from the first issue in 1892 (the cover of which is seen in the image above) to the current month, reproduced in high-resolution color page images. The digitisation has included many para-textual elements and every page, advertisement, cover and fold-out is available. The archive is accompanied by remarkably complete indexing. This means that it is possible to search across the entire publication (including adverts and covers) by designer, garment type or using other descriptive terms. This resource should be of special interest to those studying History of Dress (as well as our well dressed students and staff).

Early European Books Online

Early European Books is a companion product to the popular and well used Early English Books Online. It include almost 25,000 rare books covering the period from 1450 – 1700 drawn from the collections of the Kongelige Bibliotek, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, The Wellcome Library, Det Kongelige Bibliotek and the  Bibliothèque nationale de France. The scans are in high resolution and  each item in the collection is captured in its entirety, complete with its binding, edges, and  endpapers and is accompanied by full descriptive bibliographic metadata. The collection is remarkably rich and students will find a great variety of material. Among the highlights are Lorenzo de’ Medici’s Rappresentazione di San Giovanni e Paolo, Albrecht Dürer’s Four Books on Human Proportion and copies of works by Euclid, Petrarch and Horace containing marginal notes written by Galileo Galilei.

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New report on changing research methods in art history

Monday, 12 May, 2014 by Nick Brown

ITHAKA has recently published a new report called Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Art Historians which continues a series of examinations of the discipline began in 2000. It is based on interviews with over 70 prominent art historians, faculty members, curators and related professionals.

Report cover page

The report makes for interesting reading, showing both continuity and change in methods including critical analysis of objects, archival research, technical art history, interviews with artists, interdisciplinary and collaborative methods as well as the growth and impact of digital art history. Trends noted include the growth of certain specializations, particularly contemporary and non-western art. The report also acknowledges its limitations, such as the lack of examination of how current copyright law can restricts research and publication.

Among the headline findings are that digital technology has facilitated access to vast collections of resources previously unavailable but the lack of centralised systems to search for primary sources or for cultural heritage objects means that discovery is still complex. Most scholars also keep substantial personal collections of images and research files but the tools to manage these collections are insufficient. Lastly, there is great variety in the training and methodological grounding provided by different institutions and even different advisors. The careful development of research skills is essential for those entering the profession during a time of great competition for jobs.

The Book Library at the Courtauld Institute of Art is always looking to help support that research training and staff and students alike should feel free to contact us with any queries.

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Research help from the Courtauld librarians

Tuesday, 8 April, 2014 by Nick Brown

Following on from a successful and well received trial we will now be offering Courtauld students (at all levels) research help in an informal setting. Every Wednesday from now on and until further notice we’ll be offering drop-in support in the Student Café from 4 – 4.30 p.m. The next session will be on Wednesday 9th April.

Librarians offering reference support

We’ll be able to help with guidance on topics such as research methodology, search strategy for literature review, using our subscription databases, compiling bibliographies and using reference management software.

So, whether you’re perplexed by JSTOR, in a tangle over op. cit. and loc. cit. or would just like someone to help you locate relevant information, come and find us in the café and we’ll try to set you in the right direction.

We also intend to experiment with other days and times once term starts again.

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Free access to Palgrave Macmillan journals in March

Tuesday, 4 March, 2014 by Nick Brown

Until the end of March, Palgrave Macmillan is offering free online access to all of its journals. Among the most interesting titles for Courtauld staff and students will be Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies, Feminist Review and Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society.

Postmedieval journal page


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Recent acqusitions: Courtauld alumni and staff publications

Wednesday, 26 February, 2014 by Book Library Team

While visiting the Courtauld Book Library, you may have noticed the three recent acquisitions displays to the side of the issue desk. The library staff see dozens of new acquisitions arrive every week, and these displays are a wonderful way to showcase a selection of these items before they are shelved with the rest of the collection.

In addition to the New Book and Current Exhibition Catalogues displays, there is a themed display, which changes every two weeks. Previous themes for this academic year have included fashion, photography, drawing, and women artists. Our current selection features titles by Courtauld alumni and staff.

The new book display

À l’avant garde! art et politique dans les années 1960 et 1970

features an essay by Dr. Jacopo Galimberti, who completed his PhD at the Courtauld in 2013 and is now a visiting lecturer.


Bergson and the art of immanence: painting, photography, film

edited by John Mullarkey and Charlotte de Mille, Visiting Lecturer at the Courtauld; with contributions by Professor Sarah Wilson and PhD candidate James Day.


Capital cities at war: Paris, London, Berlin, 1914-1919 (volumes 1 and 2)

by Jay Winter, Research Forum Visiting Professor and Charles J. Stille Professor of History at Yale University.


Medieval and later ivories in The Courtauld Gallery, complete catalogue

by Professor John Lowden, with an essay by Dr. Alexandra Gerstein, Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Courtauld Gallery.


Museums Matter: in praise of the encyclopedic museum

by Professor James Cuno, Director of The Courtauld Institute of Art from 2002 until 2004, and current president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust.


Painting in Cappadocia: a guide to the sites and Byzantine church decoration

by Dr. Cecily Hennessy , who gained a PhD in Byzantine art in 2001, and is currently a Senior Lecturer at Christie’s Education.


Pleading in the blood: the art and performances of Ron Athey

edited by Dr. Dominic Johnson, who completed his MA and PhD at the Courtauld (2003 and 2007), and is currently a Senior Lecturer in Drama at Queen Mary, University of London.


The Routledge Companion to music and visual culture

with contributions by Charlotte de Mille, Visiting Lecturer ; William L. Coleman, who completed his MA in 2008; Ayla Lepine, former Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow; and Dr. Sheila McTighe, Senior Lecturer.


21st-century portraits, National Portrait Gallery

by Andrew Graham-Dixon, who studied as a postgraduate at the Courtauld.


The versatile image: photography, digital technologies and the internet

edited by Dr. Alexandra Moschovi, who completed her PhD at the Courtauld in 2004 and is currently Lecturer in Photographic history and theory at the University of Sunderland; Carol McKay and Arabella Plouviez; with a contribution by Rachel Wells, who completed her MA and PhD (2004 and 2008) at the Courtauld, and is currently Lecturer in Art History/Theory at Newcastle University.


Visual cultures as seriousness

by Professor Irit Rogoff , who completed her PhD at the Courtauld in 1987, and is currently Professor of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London.


Wonderful things: Byzantium through its art

edited by Dr. Antony Eastmond, AG Leventis Reader in the History of Byzantine Art.


Caitlin Peterson and Bobbie Winter-Burke

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Archnet relaunch

Wednesday, 12 February, 2014 by Nick Brown

Archnet welcome page

Launched in 2002 website has recently been significantly revamped to include new features, content and better design. Archnet is the leading online study resource focusing on architecture in Islamic societies. Among the improvements are an increase in the historic archives available as well as a timeline visualisation showing the history of Muslin architecture from the Rashidun Caliphate to the present day.

Archnet timeline

Many Courtauld students will be familiar with the Archnet for providing full-text access to the key journal Muqarnas from volume 1 to 2009 (more recent issues are available via our Brill subscription) but the site also contains much cutting edge information such as  that complete documentation of all 411 projects submitted for the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. There are also collections of reference materials such as the Andrew Peterson’s 1996 Dictionary of Islamic Architecture and a selection of architectural plans and drawings of some of the major monuments in the Islamic world.

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New open access e-book collection

Monday, 27 January, 2014 by Nick Brown

Last week Getty Publications launched a Virtual Library providing free access to over 250 backlist titles. The collection comprises titles published by the J.Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Conservation Institute and cover a diverse range of materials including exhibition catalogues, monographs, key art historical texts, journals, symposium papers and works on conservation. There is significant crossover with the library’s book collection including Cezanne in the Studio (currently in the short loan collection), Illuminating the Renaissance, Riegl’s The Group Portraiture of Holland and The Conservation of Wall Paintings, edited by the Courtauld’s Sharon Cather.

Getty Virtual Library

These and other freely accessible e-book collections relevant to staff and students at the Courtauld are available via our e-books page where you can also find links to our subscription e-books collections.

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New e-journal and e-books trials

Wednesday, 8 January, 2014 by Nick Brown

The Book Library is currently trialing two new resources; the online edition of the London Review of Books and Oxford University Press’ Very Short Introductions e-book series.

London Review of Books cover

The London Review of Books is a leading literary and intellectual journal which features frequent contributions from the likes of T.J. Clark, Brian Dillon and Hal foster and has been described byAlan Bennett as ‘The liveliest, the most serious and also the most radical literary periodical we have.’ The online archive covers the entire run of the journal from the first issue in 1979.

Very Short Introductions - Contemporary Art

Very Short Introductions offers concise introductory texts to a diverse range of subjects written by prominent academics. There are a number of relevant art titles including our own Julian Stallabrass’s Very Short Introduction to Contemporary Art as well as many useful titles from other disciplines such as philosophy (including volumes on Foucault, Derrida and Wittgenstein) and history (including The Renaissance, Medieval Britain and Late Antiquity).

Currently the trials are accessible only onsite but should we go ahead with purchase they will also be available remotely.

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Don’t judge a book by its catalogue record

Monday, 9 December, 2013 by Erica Foden-Lenahan

As part of an inventory exercise in the Special Collections, we have unearthed some interesting and useful books, including a copy of Persepolis illustrata from 1739, with plates depicting the Palace of Isfahan. It has now been catalogued on the computer system and can be requested from Special Collections. The shelfmark is CABS A226.PER PER and its oversize.

Perhaps the book that illustrates the title of this post best is located on the catalogue as A description of ancient Rome, containing a short account of the principal buildings, places, &c. …, printed for John Knapton in 1761.  That description is located near the back of a bound volume containing a number of political tracts and pamphlets, including An account of the emancipation of the slaves of Unity Valley Pen, in Jamaica. This document explains how David  Barclay, from Walthamstow in Essex, came to the conclusion that it was ‘subversive of the rights of human nature’ to keep slaves. (p.3) Barclay, of the banking and brewing family, was a Quaker and an abolitionist, supporting William Wilberforce in his attempts to have the House of Commons outlaw the slave trade.

The slaves were ‘inherited’ by Barclay, when he and his brother John inherited grazing land in Jamaica, in St. Ann’s Parish, about 40 miles from Kingston. (p.7) They were taken to Philadelphia where the Barclays had acquaintances and “where was already formed a Society for the abolition of slavery, and for the benefit of free blacks, of which society he was already a member.” (p.6)  The table below gives an account of what happened to the freed slaves 4 years later.

Persepolis illustrata

I am sure that Knapton’s description of ancient Rome is interesting, but this volume is a reminder that there is more to life than art. The book’s shelfmark is CABS Z6920 KNA.

And with that I’d like to thank the Courtauld for the opportunity to work with this wonderful collection of books and archives for the past 5 years. I have learned so much from my colleagues, students, and the collections themselves. There is so much to explore and so many research projects contained in these rich and beautiful collections.

Erica Foden-Lenahan

Special Collections Librarian, 2008-2013

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