Use this guide to quickly find reputable sources and save time on your research! Contact your subject librarian or the reference librarians if you need more help. For an overview of how to research efficiently, see Steps of the Research Process.

Finding Materials in the Library

Search CityCat to find books, e-books, disks and more. There are many ways to search, such as Title, Author and Keyword.

Books in the library are organized by call number according to the Library of Congress classification system which groups items by subject, so you can often simply browse the shelves. Art related subject headings include:

African American Art; Art History; Ceramics; Drawing; Mural Paintings and Decorations--20th Century--Mexico; Jewelry; Painting, Chinese; Painting, French; Painting; Italitan; Sculpture, Greek; Harlem Renaissance--Exhibitions; Indians of Central America--Arts, and many more.



African American Art N6538.N5
Art History N5300-N7418
Visual Arts N1-9211
Architecture NA1-9428
Sculpture NB1-1952
Drawing. Design. Illustration NC1-1940
Painting ND25-3416
Print Media NE1-3200
Decorative Art NK1-9990
Arts in general NX1-820


Reference Sources

Reference books are great for short overviews and background information. There are also reference resources in our database section.

Contemporary Artists.
Joann Cerrito. New York: St. James Press, 1996, 4th ed.
N690 .C6567 1996 Rosenberg Reference

Ten Thousand Years of Pottery.
Emmanuel Cooper. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.
NK3780 .C66 2000 Rosenberg

A Biographical Dictionary of Artists
Sir Lawrence Gowing, New York: Facts on File, 1995.
N40 .B53 1995 Rosenberg Reference

Art Information and the Internet: How to Find It, How to Use It
Lois Swan Jones. Phoenix, AZ.: Oryx Press, 1999.
N59 J66 1999 Rosenberg Reference

Art Information, Research Methods and Resources
Lois Swan Jones. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt: 1990
N85 .J64 1990 Rosenberg Reference

Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles
Osvald Siren, New York: Hacker Art Books, 1973.
ND 1040 .S49 1973 Rosenberg Reference

St. James Guide to Hispanic Artists
Thomas Riggs. New York: St. James Press, 2002.
N6538 .H58 S7 2002Rosenberg Reference

Art History
Marilyn Stokstad. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1995.
N5300 ,S923 1995 Rosenberg Reference

The Dictionary of Art
Jane Turner. New York: Grive, 1996
N59 .J66 1999 Rosenberg Reference


Use databases for specialized and the most up-to-date information, especially academic (scholarly) sources that are not available for free on the Web. See the Articles & Databases page for a full list of databases available.

Gale Powersearch
Gale Powersearch is a brand name for several databases with coverage from 1980 to the present. Most useful for art topics are the Expanded Academic ASAP and the Business Index ASAP. These databases let you limit your results to articles only from scholarly journals by checking the box "Peer Reviewed publications."

Ebscohost is a brand name for more than 25 multi-disciplinary databases with coverage from 1980 to the present.

Ethnic Newswatch
Comprised of newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press in America, this unique body of materials covers a wide range of current topics and countless other social, political and educational subjects. More than 200 publications covering 1995 to the present are represented, and searchable in both English and Spanish.

SFPL - Electronic Resources, Magazines, and Newspapers
San Francisco Public Library subscribes to many periodical and reference databases. You must have a San Francisco Public Library card number to access them. Once you have entered your barcode number, select the subject - Art.


Use websites for government information, statistics and current events. It's very important to carefully evaluate websites for accuracy, currency, bias and credibility.

Below are some examples of academic/scholarly web sites pertaining to art and art history. If you use a search engine, such as Google, remember to evaluate the quality of the results.

Art History Resources
An award winning art history site with hundreds of links to excellent sites on all aspects of world art history.

Good site to search for fina arts images, beginning ion the Byzantine era.

ArtLex, Art Dictionary
An online dictionary containing art terminology.

Digital Images and Copyright
A guide developed by 2Learn which instructs in the use of digital images.

Finding Images on the Web
"Finding Images on the Web" is a tutorial offered through Networked Information Services, Office of Information Technology, Boston University.

ImageBase, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Select ImageBase from the lefthand sidebar to enter the image database and find holdings with over 82,000 images. Use very simple language to search the database. - sometimes one word searches are best. Images may be viewed in great detail.

ImageFinder, Berkeley Digital Library SunSITE
Access to a collection of image databases, mostly photography databases, including the collections of the Library of Congress, the Smithonian Institution, and the National Library of Australia. Also find an architectural image database.

Local Museums

Berkeley Art Museum

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

National and International Museums

Getty Museum

Louvre Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art

National Gallery of Art

New York Museum of Modern Art

Virtual Library Museums Page