Works in Progress: Boosting Artists’ Books Visibility in Academic and Museum Libraries

Event Info

Artists’ books held by institutions are often treated as venerated objects, stored under lock and key and viewable only under close supervision. Unfortunately, practices designed to protect artists’ books can create barriers to visibility by limiting their physical or intellectual presence. Though a core tenet of librarianship is access, concerns about preservation combined with limitations in cataloging and description can lead to artists’ books and artists’ books collections being underutilized and, subsequently, under-appreciated.

In this panel, five art library staff in academic and museum libraries will offer perspectives and experiences on expanding access to artists’ books in institutional collections. Visibility begins with how people can learn about and search our collections; accounting for organizational policies that prioritize education, outreach, and preservation to varying degrees, we will discuss efforts we have made towards increasing physical access, improving find-ability, and reaching wider audiences. We hope to provide insight to any wishing to access, use, contribute to, or improve institutional collections, while acknowledging that our work is ongoing and ever-expanding. 

Emily Ha at the Clark Art Institute will speak on connecting with artists and creating a filterable search database with comprehensive item descriptions. Marnie Powers-Torrey will discuss the University of Utah’s Opening Artists’ Books, a searchable index of artists’ books terminology that facilitates access in collections using standard cataloging procedures and links terms to controlled vocabularies. Marsha Taichman of the Ontario College of Art & Design University will talk about creating a selection of browsable, semi-circulating artists’ books within the main collection of Cornell University’s Fine Arts Library. Giana Ricci at New York University’s Elmer Holmes Bobst Library will discuss the benefits and challenges of fully circulating artists’ books. April Sheridan of the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago will discuss modes of visual discovery in digital and physical spaces used to assist researchers.

About CABC

Initiated in 2008 by a group of independent volunteers, the Contemporary Artists’ Book Conference presents in depth talks, panels, and conversations to further the critical dialog surrounding artists’ books. CABC Now administered by Center for Book Arts, the CABC committee is made up of a group of independent historians, art librarians, artists, and professionals in the field, sessions cover a range of lively topics from artists, scholars, and other leading figures.

The Contemporary Artists’ Book Conference is a long time programing partner of Printed Matter’s Art Book Fairs. The 2022 conference is scheduled to take place virtually in October 14 & 15, 2022 in conjunction with Printed Matter’s New York Art Book Fair.

See the full conference schedule and visit the archive here.

About Printed Matter’s Art Book Fairs

Printed Matter’s Art Book Fairs are among the leading international gatherings for the distribution of artists’ books, celebrating the full breadth of the art publishing community.

Printed Matter presents the 2022 NY Art Book Fair taking place October 13–16, 2022 at 548 W. 22nd Street. NYABF returns to the historic location of Printed Matter’s first Art Book Fair, right around the corner from our Chelsea bookstore! After three years apart, we are grateful to have this opportunity to reunite in person and celebrate the history and future of artists’ book publishing together.

Learn more about NYABF at

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