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How to Research an Artist: Library Catalog

An introduction to finding information about visual artists, architects, fashion designers etc.... Guide by Miguel Rosales.

Library Catalog

Research Catalog 

Explore millions of items from The New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The Research Catalog also provides researchers with access to offsite storage items from NYPL, Columbia University, Princeton University and Harvard University. Items will be delivered to The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in 1-2 business  days.

Getting Started 

The Subject Heading Index Explorer provides a way to navigate through the Library's collection. Searches can also be achieved by author, title, and standard numbers (ISBN or call numbers).

Before Your Visit 

The Art Collection is available to view with or without an appointment. However, we encourage patrons to book an appointment in advance to eliminate waiting for books. 

Library Catalog



Searching the Library’s online catalog can serve as the first step in order to see if the library holds any books on your artist of interest. Books are good sources for well-known artists, but may not be available for artists that are more obscure. Do not discount non-English language sources since they cover artists of all nationalities and may be the only sources containing information. 

There are different ways to search for books on individual artists:

  • The best way is to search under “Subject” (LastName, FirstName)

    • ​It is with this type of search that you can find material about the artist such as biographies, criticisms, interpretations and analysis about an artist's life and body of work.
  • Artists can also be searched for as “Author” (LastName, FirstName)

    • ​It is with this type of search that you can find an artist's critical writings, artists' books, collaborations with other artists and writers, and exhibition catalogs. 

  • You can also do a “All Fields” search If your subject and author searches provide you with little or no results.


How to Request Offsite Items from the Research Catalog

Items that are located offsite can be requested via the blue "Request Button" found in the catalog. 

You can select the location where you would like the material delivered or if you would like a small portion of the item scanned after logging in with your Library card and pin number. Please note: Requests for onsite items cannot be made via the catalog. Delivery of same-day requests and onsite items may take up to two hours.  

How to Find Material Outside of NYPL

WorldCat --  A catalog that links multiple libraries holdings in a one-stop search engine for easy searching across libraries worldwide.  

Interlibrary Services and Document Delivery (ILL) -- Interlibrary Services provides access to materials held at libraries outside the NYPL system. To begin using ILL, please create an online account here.

How to Access our Collections


A Library card will provide you with access to our collections and our remote digital resources. NYC residents or visitors to NYC (domestic or international), can apply online here. Please note, a photo ID and proof of address is needed to validate your card when you visit. Further information on Library cards can be found here

Book an Appointment

To book an appointment to view materials in the Art Collection please visit our website at and click on the book an appointment link:

The site allows you to book three or more days ahead of time. Once you click on the day, you will need to select the time and seat. It will then provide a form that will let you request up to ten books to view. Click on Submit and your appointment request will be sent to the collection. Once your items have been paged, and have arrived in the room, your appointment will be approved.

Appointment requests without a library card number or call numbers of items will be rejected and asked to resubmit with the proper information. 

Consultations with a Librarian


Meet Virtually with a Librarian

Researchers of all levels are welcome to schedule an online consultation with our librarians. Consultations include: catalog navigation, demonstration of online services and database (articles, abstracts, etc...), as well as exploration of sources for a specific topic. To schedule a consultation, please click on the link above or email us at: or for Art Librarians. A Librarian will review your query and get back to you as soon as possible.

Get Help

For further assistance in using any of these resources you can contact the Art & Architecture staff by visiting us in Room 300 of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building or through email at