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Visual arts research : a handbook /

Main Author: Pollard, Elizabeth B., 1939-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Greenwood Press, 1986
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Review by Choice Review

Pollard (bibliography, Alabama) has created a concise guide and literature review geared to student needs. A well-written general overview of the research process precedes chapters on art resources and tools. Limited problem-solving guidance accompanies one-line annotations or recommendations keyed to a 350-item bibliography. Be forewarned: the effectiveness of this streamlined approach declines as the complexity of the research (i.e., iconography) increases. Although Lois S. Jones in Art Research Methods and Resources (2nd ed. rev., 1984) provides fuller annotations and more detailed guidance, Pollard allows uncluttered access to sources by medium or nationality. An excellent index, plus good coverage of biography, journal indexes, architecture, and art education compensate for surprising omissions like the AAM Official Museum Directory (1961) and the Repertoire d'art et d'archeologie (1965). Unique features include an annotated list of fine arts periodicals, and a comparative chart for Dewey and LC classifications. Recommended to university collections as an update to Jones (20 percent of the citations are post 1982), and to undergraduate and larger public libraries as a leaner alternative.-M.M. Doherty, Purdue University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

This handbook is intended to provide ``guidance in research methods and resources for art students and other scholars.'' Pollard, a librarian at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has written a solid book that will be of value to students unfamiliar with the basic titles in the field of art research. Each of the chapters is in the form of an extended bibliographic essay. Particular titles referred to in each chapter are followed by a number (e.g., ``D.20'') that refers to the 450-item bibliography. Chapter 1 introduces the student to the basics of writing a research paper. It is a ``nutshell'' user-education course and will be valuable for the beginner. Chapter 2 introduces the neophyte to the elements of using the library, including catalogs, classification systems, reference sources, and periodical indexes and abstracting services. Chapter 3 is a straightforward minicourse in database searching for art materials. Four databases dealing specifically with art are listed. Art Index, available on Wilsonline, is shown as being available from 1929 to date. It is actually online only since October 1984. Chapters 4 through 8, the bulk of the book, contain discussion of sources for biographical information, art history sources, sources on specific works of art, techniques and materials, and art education information sources. The sections are divided into logical arrangements such as periods, countries, and media. Coverage includes architecture, sculpture, painting, graphic arts, and decorative arts. It is interesting to note that jewelry is not covered. Since glass and ceramics are both dealt with, this is a perplexing omission. Chapter 9 is a listing of visual-arts periodicals. Following are two appendixes: the first is a comparison of the Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal Classification systems for the visual arts, and the second is a listing of print equivalents of online databases. This section would have fit more easily with chapter 3, where the databases useful in art research were listed. The book concludes with an index of authors, titles, and subjects. The items cited here and the information offered provide good, basic information for art students. For scholars, this book is probably too general to be of serious value other than as a teaching tool. There are more comprehensive bibliographies of art, e.g., Arntzen's Guide to the Literature of Art History (ALA, 1980) and Ehresmann's Fine Arts: A Bibliographic Guide (Libraries Unlimited, 1979), but they do not give guidance in the use of the sources listed. Visual Arts Research more closely resembles Muehsam's Guide to Basic Information Sources in the Visual Arts (ABC-Clio, 1978) and Jones' Art Research Methods and Resources (Kendall/Hunt, 1984). This new title serves to update the former and complements the latter. Pollard covers almost all the same sources as Jones, but the database coverage in Pollard is unique while Jones has more detailed information on museum catalogs. Libraries that own the Jones book will have to decide how important the database coverage in Pollard is in making a purchasing decision.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.