Those needing access to heavy-visual materials, and/or collections that are non-circulating face a particularly challenging situation at present. Art and architecture books are image-heavy, can be extensive: text, images, scholarly apparatuses, etc., and art scholars frequently need whole books to browse through in order to determine what is needed: e.g. a particular image, or something specific about an artist, etc. Studio students in art and architecture, in particular, are heavily reliant on the ability to browse for particular types of image content. Scanning services for a portion of a book often aren’t sufficient. There are few ebooks to begin with, and many exhibition catalogs, for example, that are not available in digital form (particularly from abroad). Small print runs are the norm, and so a digital version is often unlikely, not to mention the challenge of image rights, and the like. Scanning whole art books is also logistically challenging due to their size and depth, the need for color images, and supplementary material like footnotes and plates. Previously non-circulating collections are being forced to circulate to some degree, or to ramp up scanning services.
There is a physical aspect to art and architecture books not unlike special collections materials in general. Some titles become rare or “medium-rare” very quickly due to small print runs or unique physical aspects. Special Collections colleagues are coming up with creative ways to make such unique, physically interesting materials available to patrons such as short videos of an individual flipping through a physical item, providing camera usage by faculty members in advance of a virtual class (by appointment), etc.
Do call on Rebecca Friedman (rfriedma@) and Gabriella Karl-Johnson (gjk@), respectively, for all of your art and architecture needs.