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Olin Library: Art & Art History: HOME

Search Tips

Think of library research as a scavenger hunt, and like time in the studio, use skill, intuition and awareness. Some tips include:

  • Jot down what you're looking for on paper. This helps you verbalize and organize your needs.
  • Look in resources that can broadly define your topic and provide background info and keywords, such as Grove's Dictionary of Art (REF N31 .D5 1996 ) or encyclopedias, including Wikipedia. Jot down keywords, dates, names, etc.
  • Keep in mind there may be variant spellings or transliterations - especially for international subjects.
  • Consider the timeliness of your topic. Are you researching a gallery exhibit from last month, or a 2000 year old building? Generally more recent events will likely be covered in newspapers and on-line blogs, while a little time is required before they appear in journals, and even more time for books.
  • Once you know what type of info you want, choose the right tool to find it. For books, use a catalog such as SWAN; for journal articles use an index such as Art Full Text; for newspaper stories, use an index such as ProQuest News. You get the idea.
  • Consider the source. If you're looking for criticism about an artist's work, their personal website might not be the first place to look.
  • Familiarize yourself with what I call the "anatomy of a record". Most catalog and journal index records have many of the same pieces of information, organized in "fields". They differ slightly from one source to another, but understanding the underlying structure helps you move from one source to another easily. Most have "subject", "author", "title", "keyword", etc.
  • Use the "advanced search" option when available. It will help w/ the point above.
  • Artists may either be the subject or the author of a book or article, or both.
  • If you find a book or article that suits your needs, look at the subject headings assigned, and search those.
  • Look in the bibliographies in pertinent books and articles to see if the sources listed may also help. If we don't have them at Drury, order them through Mobius or Interlibrary Loan.
  • Ask for help. No one is expected to know everything about libraries, and every library is different.  Take advantage of the student research assistants and librarians at the Reference Desk, or contact me.


Welcome Drury Art Students

Hello Art & Art History students. Hopefully these pages will help you navigate the library & the web - whether to write a research paper, or gather inspiration in the studio.

Use the tabs above to see links or suggestions for various types of info. I hope they are self-explanatory, but if not please let me know.

Please contact me using the box on the right (phone, email) at any time with comments, suggestions, questions, or to schedule a reference session.

Helping you IS my job, so you're never interrupting me!

Best, Jacque

Maman Installation at Crystal Bridges

Featured Exhibit for the Day