Subject Collection Development Guidelines

JMU Libraries supports James Madison University's School of Art, Design, and Art History with a collection that facilitates instruction and research, taking into consideration the school's curriculum for preparing professional artists and designers, educating future art historians and museum specialists, training elementary and secondary art teachers and enriching the general education of non-art majors.

The art, design, and art history collections are developed in accordance with the school’s evolving undergraduate programs that includes Bachelor of Arts in Art History including an emphasis in museum studies; Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art; Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with an emphasis in General Fine Arts, Graphic Design, or Interior Design; and Bachelor of Science in Studio Art with an emphasis in General Fine Arts or Industrial Design.  The school’s evolving graduate programs include Master in Fine Arts in Studio Art, Master of Arts in Art Education, and Master of Arts in Studio Art. Acquisitions and collection management of art materials also supports the library-wide mission of fostering environments that allow users to connect with ideas and information.

Collections that provide information about the subject in a systematic way to support the needs of general library users through college and beginning graduate instruction include:

  • A collection of general monographs and reference works and selected specialized monographs and reference works
  • Extensive collections of the works of well-known authors and selections from the works of lesser-known authors
  • The collection attempts to include all chronological periods and to consider all geographical areas with strength in American and European art and growing attention to African, Latin American, and Asian art. Less emphasis is placed on materials from Oceania, Canada, and Australia.

Collection Areas

AM 1-501   Museums Studies, Collectors and Collecting (Guides to the antiques and collectibles market are considered out of scope, with the exception of scholarly works on the decorative arts.)

N     Visual Arts

NA   Architecture (The collection emphasis is architectural history.  Materials on city planning and most guidebooks as well as technical material related to building design and construction are considered out of the scope.)  

NB   Sculpture

NC   Drawing and Design (Less emphasis is placed on commercial art and graphic design.)

ND   Painting (This classification includes stylistic periods and movements, individual artists, and genres. The collection attempts to include all chronological periods and to consider all geographical areas with strength in American and European art and growing attention to African, Latin American, and Asian art.)

NE   Print Media (The collection attempts to cover prints and printmaking from a historical and contemporary perspective.)

NK   Decorative arts, Applied Arts, Decoration and Ornament (Emphasis is on the history of the decorative arts, interior decoration and design, industrial design, arts and crafts movements, and contemporary craft with an emphasis on ceramics; fiber arts and textiles; and jewelry and metal work.)

NX   Arts in general (Emphasis is limited to artists working in multimedia; installation and performance artists, artistic movements, or broadly multidisciplinary works including popular culture and gender; technology and creativity).

TR   Photography (Current emphasis is on contemporary photographers and exhibition catalogs with minimal attention to the technical literature on photography. How-to books are considered out of scope.  Materials located in Rose Library.)

TT   Handicrafts; Arts and Craft.  (Minimal emphasis is placed on collecting in this area. Materials located in Rose Library.) 

Related Subjects and Interdisciplinary Relationships

  • Archaeology in connection with materials on the discovery and preservation of ancient art.
  • Education pertaining to art education.
  • School of Media Art and Design concerning photojournalism (TR 820-821), commercial art, advertising art, and animation.
  • History
  • Philosophy


Materials are considered for their subject, curriculum relevance, authoritativeness, currency, and price. User requests and appropriateness for the entire collection are also key criteria for consideration. Primary emphasis is on current materials.

  • Primary formats are print and electronic. When deciding between print and electronic resource of comparable scope and information type, preference is given for electronic materials that facilitate accessibility. Electronic formats are favored for reference resources and periodical collections.
  • The traditional art history genres are acquired including exhibition catalogues catalogues raisonnes, collection catalogues, inventories of architectural monuments and works of art, critical editions of writings by artists. Artists’ videos represent an area of growing interest and are added as funds permit.
  • Other formats including digital image collections and videos are purchased selectively to support the art, design, and art history curriculum.
  • Materials are acquired primarily from the United States.
  • English-language materials are purchased almost exclusively.
  • Textbooks are generally considered out of scope, but may be acquired as a reference source or if there is a scarcity of other material in the field.
  • The collection excludes histories and surveys of art and architecture developed for elementary and secondary school students, as well as most materials on practical techniques and “how to” books.
  • Artists’ books that serve instructional needs are purchased selectively and housed in the Special Collections. The preference is for works published in large editions with attention  to representing a variety of illustrative methods, structures, papers, and bindings.


The responsibility of acquiring and managing art, design, and art history collections primarily resides with the art liaison librarian. Liaison librarian works with the Visual Resources Manager and the faculty within the school. Collection management activities are monitored and administered by JMU Libraries' Collection Development Committee, with expenditures authorized by the Dean of Libraries.

Updated June 7, 2012 by Mary Ann Chappell.


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