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Contemporary Art and Artists

Welcome to the UCLA Library guide for researching contemporary art topics. This guide is intended as a starting place for researchers, pointing to tools, resources, and strategies for finding information related to contemporary art.

Library Catalogs

At UCLA Library, there are at least three or four catalogs to search for books and other library materials, depending on how extensively you want to search.  Think of these catalogs as concentric circles:

Smallest Circle: UCLA Library Catalog

The UCLA Library Catalog is everything held (i.e. bought, licensed, subscribed to, acquired as gifts) by the UCLA Library. These materials include books, journals, magazines, DVDs and videos, manuscripts, microfilm, databases, and some web resources. The UCLA Catalog also includes cataloged materials for some related UCLA collections, including the English Reading Room, the Chicano Studies Research Center Library and Special Collections, and the LGBT Center Library. To search the Film and Television Archive or the Ethnomusicology Archive holdings, click on the "Select Collections" tab while in the main catalog.

Larger Circle: Melvyl UC Catalog

The Melvyl Catalog is everything held by the ten University of California campus libraries, including UCLA. Also included are records from the California State Library and the Center for Research Libraries. UCLA students, staff, and faculty can also request interlibrary loan of materials from the Melvyl Catalog.

Largest Circle: WorldCat

OCLC's WorldCat has catalog records from libraries worldwide, particularly North America.  Most materials in the UCLA Library Catalog and the University of California system's Melvyl Catalog should show up in WorldCat. For researchers in the Performing Arts, WorldCat can be a very useful place to locate popular press materials and other titles available in local public libraries.

Tips for Book Searching

When searching for books, there are a few useful starting strategies to keep in mind:

  1. While using the catalog to look for books is preferred, patrons wishing to browse the shelves may consult the Arts Library Quick Guide to Major Subject Areas for broad call number ranges.
  2. Searching a library catalog is different from searching Google or full text databases. The data provided is usually quite basic, including title, author, subject, and sometimes table of contents. You may need to broaden your search or try alternate keywords before finding books on a particular topic.
  3. Most library catalogs DO NOT contain articles or article indexing. Instead, they will tell you if the library has a subscription to a specific journal or magazine, and if this includes any electronic access. Use an article database to find specific journal articles.
  4. If you already have a relevant book or article in hand, use its bibliography to find other sources on the same topic. 
  5. Do a subject word (not just a keyword) search in a catalog. Artists, art genres and movements, and the titles of major works of art can also be used in a subject search. The Arts Library has print copies of Library of Congress subject headings available, and advanced researchers may also want to consult the LC Authorities catalog to locate subject headings on different topics.
  6. Due to major space restrictions in the Library, note that some materials may be located at the Southern Regional Library Facility, or SRLF. These can usually be requested via the UCLA Library Catalog, and are available by the next day for pickup at one of the UCLA Libraries.

Selected Online Books

Additional Collections of Interest