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Greta Ku riger
L IS 560
Assignment 1 – I mage search and art students at UW
The focus of this paper is the user group undergraduate studio art students at the
University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, WA. The School of Art at the UW consists of the
following majors: Interdisciplinary visual arts (IVA), painting and drawing, photography,
and 3D4M which includes ceramics, glass, public art, and sculpture. These are students
with access to a large research university library system as well as a world class public
library system in Seattle. The goal of this paper is present findings about what art
students are searching for, where they are searching, and if they would benefit from
instruction on search strategies and resources.
One of the learning goals for all the majors in the School of Ar t is “to research,
question, organize and synthesize information about existing ideas and practices”1. Since
finding and using information is given such a prominent place in the learning goals of the
School of Ar t i t would follow that library use would be encouraged unfortunately by
examining some of the pages for each major it is clear the library is not the first place
students are sent to look for information. One indication is found in a “suggested readings”
link appearing on the IVA webpage.2 The list found on this page links students to
Amazon.com encouraging students to start searches for art books at a for-profit site rather
1 ht tp://art.washington.edu/index.php?id=38
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than at the University’s own library. Also at the IVA webpage under “resources” students
are provided with links to many appropriate information sources including email list-serves
and the School of Art sponsored “Go Post” bulletin board as well as resources in the Seattle
community on museums, classes, and funding opportunities.3 Each major has i ts own page
with a “resources” link, the IVA was the only one with an active “suggested reading” list.
Out of the four majors it was only the photography webpage that supplied a link to the
School of Ar t Library. This immediately tells one that the libraries at UW and in Seattle
are not seen as an important source for studio art students to find information relevant to
their needs. This may be due to a lack of knowledge about the resources found at the
libraries, or that art students information needs are being met elsewhere.
Analysis on information needs:
There have been many previous studies on the information needs of art students.
Some invaluable sources for understanding the art student user group comprise of the
following papers with copious li terature reviews: William S. Hemmig’s The Information-
Seeking Behavior of Visual Artists: a L iterature Review (2008), and Visick, R., Hendrickson,
J., and Bowman, C.’s Seeking Information Dur ing the Creative Process – a Pilot Study of
Artists (2006). A number of important findings are summarized in these papers including
what art students are looking for in terms of subjects, how art students locate information,
what types of materials are used most often, and what type of library is favored.
In terms of subjects art students are found to be very interested in subjects other
than art. They usually locate information by browsing, having only a vague topic or subject
3 ht tp://art.washington.edu/252_Resources
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interest. This may lead to more use of other libraries besides the art library which only
provides access to one topic. I t was found that the type of library most preferred was an
artist’s personal library but that students also rely heavily on academic libraries. When
students are looking for art related information current magazines are a substantial draw
for finding out about t rends. In general, art students seek out information mainly for
inspiration, techniques, materials and safety, specific visual information, career and
funding, and t rends in the art world.
Finding images is a top priority for art students. Browsing in the physical library as
opposed to the online catalog is more popular among art students perhaps because it allows
more access to visual information. “Artists want to know about the content (subject) of
images, how many images there are, and the type: black and white, color, line drawings etc
(Gregory 2007).” Unless artists are experts in reading MARC records in the online catalog,
the only way they will be able to indentify if a source is pertinent will be to physically
examine it. In a survey shown in Visick, Hendrickson, and Bowman’s paper, respondents
indicated that books were the most consulted source at 77.1%, online resources were second
at 68.8% and journals or magazines third at 53.1%.
In the future as students become more comfortable and savvy with regards to what
resources are available online and as computers become more advanced in loading times, an
in flux in online use is a probable possibility. Visick et al advocate libraries offering more
outreach and education with regards to their online resources. In both studies databases
were found to be the least popular means of searching for information. Taking the UW
library website as an example we can see some possibili ties why this might be the case.
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At the UW libraries website there is a page devoted to image databases and
resources. This page is not accessible from the UW libraries homepage. I t must be
accessed through the homepage by clicking on “more” under the “find it” shortcuts. A new
library user may be overwhelmed with the information they fi rst encounter at the library
homepage and may never make it to the “more” shortcut unless they are given specific
instructions. But once there they may find i t very helpful. The library also has a link to its
Delicious account, a popular social bookmarking site. This provides links to t rusted sites
beyond the libraries website that provide much better image quality and content than the
sites that appear when searches are conducted using a large search engine such as Google
From previously conducted research reports we know studio art students are using
their academic library, they are mostly searching for images, and they have a predilection
for browsing. I believe there is a need for online instruction if more students are going to be
confident enough to fully take advantage of the resources their academic library has to
Following are some questions I would use if I was conducting a survey of the user
group studio art students at the University of Washington.
What is your major in the School of Art at the University of Washington?
Interdisciplinary Visual Ar ts
Painting and Drawing
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What year are you? First / Second / Third / Fourth or more
Since you have been in the School of Art have you used the UW libraries? Yes / No
Since you have been in the School of Art have you used the Art Library? Yes / No
When you use any of the libraries do you usually visit them in person or access them online?
In person / Online
If you have used the libraries in person what have you used them for?
(check all that apply)
To find a specific book or article to aid in research
To browse books
To read magazines
To use the internet for non library purposes
To find images
If you have used the libraries online what have you used them for?
(check all that apply)
To see if the library has a specific book or article and then put a hold on it or access it
To browse the library’s catalog
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To find images via databases such as ARTstor
Do you want to know more about ways to search / browse the library online?
(check all that apply)
Yes – especially with the catalog
Yes – especially with databases
Yes – especially to find images
Do you use the internet to find images? Yes / No
Do you want to know more about where to find images online? Yes / No
URL for Catalyst Web survey:
Gregory, Tori R. Under- Served or Under-Surveyed: The Information Needs of Studio Art
Faculty in the Southwestern United States, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 26 No.2, 2007.
Hemmig, William S. The Information-Seeking Behavior of Visual Artists: a L iterature
Review, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 64 No. 3, 2008.
Visick, R., Hendrickson, J., Bowman, C. (2006), Seeking Information Dur ing the Creative
Process – A Pilot Study of Artists, available at:
University of Washington Libraries homepage -
University of Washington School of Ar t Division of Art - ht tp://art.washington.edu/2_Art