Arts Research -- Books

Research on the art process and product can be directed in several ways. Note that materials and techniques resources will frequently be from books, where criticism and reviews of work and exhibits will be from journals. 

  • Historical (how has the genre developed over time? Who are the main artists, inspirations, or predecessors?)
  • Materials used
  • Collaborations (who, as well as what contribution?)
  • Critical reception (both negative and positive from experts, other artists and the intended public)

Beginning research tools:


  • The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art   N8510 .G76 2008
  • The HarperCollins Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques   N33 .M37 1992
  • Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film  REF PN1995.9.D6 E53 2006
  • Encyclopedia of New Media: An Essential Reference to Communicaton and Technology  Oversize QA76.575 .E5368 2003


  • The Oxford Companion to Western Art  Oversize N33 .O923 2001
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Art   N33 .O93 2004
  • The Dictionary of Art  REF  N31 .D5 1996
  • Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art  Oversize N7560 .E53 1998

Electronic reference works

Grove Music Online
Comprises the full text of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2d edition, 2001), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (1992), and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2d edition, 2002).

Other (non reference) information from the catalog can come from:

  • books about specific techniques or media,
  • searches on collaboration in the art(s)
  • exhibition catalogs.

KEYWORD searches are good ways to explore the holdings at CSUSM. Don't forget to expand your search to the Circuit collection as UCSD has an art and architecture library with some exceptional holdings that you can have delivered to CSUSM.

Beyond the CSUSM collection and dependent on how much time you have, there are additional options:

CSU+ (3-5 day delivery)
Search the collections of the other 22 CSU libraries. Find and request books directly online; pick them up at our Library in 3-5 days.

WorldCat (5-10 day delivery)
Search the collections of libraries world-wide -- about 52,000,000 books. Find a book in this database, and fill-out an Interlibrary Loan delivery request. Book will be delivered to Library for pickup.

Google Books
Many of the results will not provide full text, but you discover what is available in the world beyond CSUSM, and we can probably borrow it for you.