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Collection Development @ SJSU Library

Collection Development Policy - Art & Art History

Last Updated: 2018

Programs Supported

Selection for this subject discipline is designed to support the undergraduate and graduate programs in the Department of Art and Art History. 

Undergraduate Degrees

The BA in Art offers three concentrations:

Art History and Visual Culture The program provides students with the communication skills, research techniques, and methods of critical inquiry that have become a vital part of modern life. Course offerings include a wide range of themes and topics in ancient, Renaissance, Baroque, modern, contemporary, Islamic and global art. Examination of the visual culture of these diverse areas encourages students to become responsible citizens through an understanding of the aesthetic, cultural and ethical choices inherent in human development.

Studio Practice is for students who wish a general study of the visual arts or to combine studies in the visual arts with studies in other fields. For students preferring a broad art background instead of an intense specialization, this program provides students with a variety of art experiences. The required studio work is intended to intensify awareness of visual art forms and introduce a variety of technical processes and theoretical approaches.

Studio Practice, Preparation for Teaching major is designed for students interested in teaching art in high school or middle school. The course work satisfies San José State University's requirements for a BA in Art, Concentration in General Studio Practice. This program is approved as subject matter preparation for a single subject credential in art, pending final approval by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC).

The Bachelor of Fine Arts Program is for the student seriously interested in a career as a professional artist. It combines a general background in studio art with an intensive preparation in an area of specialization and is recommended preparation for the MFA degree. The BFA in Art offers concentrations in:

● Digital Media Art
● Photography
● Pictorial Art
● Spatial Art    

With minors in:

● Architectural Studies
Art Education 
● Art History and Visual Culture
● Photography 
● Studio Art


Graduate Degrees

The Art and Art History Department offers graduate work for qualified students who desire to earn one or more of the following:

MA - Art, Concentration in Art History and Visual Culture

The Master of Arts in Art History and Visual Culture offers a broad education in art history including preparation for a Ph.D. degree program. It also helps to prepare students for a graduate library degree with a specialization in art history as well as a variety of positions including community college professor, researcher, museum curator, art administrator, conservator, and visual resource librarian. This program is especially strong in modern and contemporary art, architecture and design, and the art of the Renaissance.

MFA - Art is a highly selective program that provides professional training and education for artists and prepares artists and college and university teachers in these areas. Includes concentrations in:

● Digital Media Art
● Photography
● Pictorial Arts including: Painting, Drawing and Printmaking
● Spatial Arts including Ceramics, Crafts, Glass, Installation, Performance, Weaving/Textiles, Sculpture

Minors & Interdisciplinary Programs
Minors are offered in: Art Education (helps students obtain a supplementary authorization in art), Architectural Studies, Art History and Visual Culture, Photography, and Studio Art.
To a lesser degree, the art collection supports in part a number of interdisciplinary programs that offer a BA or an undergraduate minor. These include American, Asian, African, Middle East and Jewish Studies; Afro-American, Asian-American and Mexican-American Studies; Women's Studies; Communication in the Information Age; and the Humanities Department—Humanities, Liberal Studies, and especially the Creative Arts Program.

Existing Resources

The University Library serves as the main resource for this subject. Access to resources is provided through the Library’s Catalog and databases. Materials that we do not own or provide access to may be accessed through CSU+ or Interlibrary Loan (ILL). The Department of Art and Art History also maintains a Visual Resources Library, which includes slides, electronic images, and some films. Films purchased by the Library are housed in the Instructional Resources Center. Some of the audiovisual materials in the East Asian Regional Materials and Resource Center (EARMARC) pertain to art and design as well. University students, faculty and staff also have access to the collection of the San José Public Library, which is housed in the King Library and the branches of the San Jose Public Library (SJPL).

Multiple online resources for Art and Art History are available through the library website. Research databases serving Art and Art History include Oxford Art Online, Grove Art Online, Oxford Reference, Art & Architecture Source, ARTBibliographies Modern, Art Index Retrospective, Arts & Humanities Full Text, Humanities International Complete, Bibliography of the History of Art: BHA, DAAI: Design and Applied Arts Index, International Bibliography of Art, JSTOR Journals and Books, and Project Muse.


Considerable overlap exists between Art and Art History and certain areas of Anthropology, Computer Science, Design, Technology, Engineering, and Television/Radio/Film/Theatre. The increasing use of industrial and electronic materials and processes by artists and designers requires students to seek out more technical resources, that are added to the art collection. Responsibility for acquisition of items in other areas of overlap is decided in consultation with librarians responsible for collection development in the humanities noted above, and also several other areas where overlap occurs (such as other Ethnic and Area Studies, and Women's Studies).

The collections of the University Library and the San José Public Library are largely complementary. As of 2018, SJSU owns over 56,000 print titles in fine arts and photography. SJPL purchases multiple copies of books on art techniques, applied arts, and current craft trends, whereas SJSU purchases only single copies (with rare exceptions) of techniques and a limited selection of craft books. The combined King Library collection should be particularly useful for art education majors and undergraduates in studio art courses. SJPL has a significant collection of materials on residential interior design, while the SJSU collection concentrates on commercial interior design. SJPL buys popular biographies of artists. SJSU also buys some biographies, but concentrates on works of criticism and interpretation, and exhibition catalogues. 

Materials Collected

Special Materials – Exhibition catalogs and some artist's books are collected. Limited-edition posters and/or original prints and photographs are sometimes collected.

Languages – Works written in or translated into English are preferred, although significant materials in the major Western European languages are also collected.  Works in any language may be collected if justified by the quality and importance of the illustrations and other content.

Geographical Areas – Materials on the art of all geographical areas are collected.

Chronological Periods – All periods of art & design history are collected. Studio-oriented materials heavily emphasize contemporary art.

Current / Retrospective Materials – Emphasis is on current materials. Retrospective collection is done primarily in art and design history to ensure that standard histories, critical works and reference tools are held. Works dealing with materials and techniques heavily emphasize the last twenty years.

DVDs, films, and other media formats - In recent years the library has moved towards streaming services to provide students and faculty with videos that support the curriculum.  DVDs may still be purchased in rare cases if the video is not available in a streaming format.  DVDs, and in some cases even VHS videotapes purchased by the library over the last few decades are shelved in the Instructional Resource Center, though most of these items no longer have corresponding catalog records.

Collection Strengths

The collection provides basic coverage in undergraduate-level general materials in Western European art, art history and design. The SJSU collection of exhibition catalogs, especially of contemporary art, is quite strong for materials published from about mid-1987. For non-Western art, the collection is strongest for China and Japan, and developing in holdings related to the art of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. The Islamic art collection is stronger than it was a few years ago, but should be stronger still, given the increase in interest and enrollment for classes on Islamic art. SJSU has a good basic collection of African and indigenous art, but few specialized materials.

SJSU subscribes to the following major art indexes/databases: Art Index Retrospective, Art & Architecture Source, Arts & Humanities Full Text, ARTBibliographies Modern, Bibliography of the History of Art: BHA, DAAI: Design and Applied Arts Index, and Materials ConneXion. 

In addition, the University subscribes to ARTstor, a premiere collection high resolution images, and Oxford Art Online, which includes the full text of the Grove Art Dictionary. 

Other university subscriptions that support the Department of Art and Art History include interdisciplinary databases such as Academic Search Premiere, Arts and Humanities Citation Index, JSTOR, Project Muse, and Proquest Dissertations and Theses

The Library subscribes to the majority of its periodicals in electronic form.

Reviews used to help determine purchasing decisions come from Gobi, ChoiceReviews, and ARLIS-NA.

Evaluation of Collection

Digital and print resources will continue to be evaluated using usage statistics and user feedback to ensure sufficient research support is provided. New materials are discovered through professional listservs (ARLIS-NA), reviews in journals, and recommendations from faculty and students. The collection needs to be augmented with materials that support the emergent emphasis on digital and multimedia. The ultimate goal is to build and maintain a balanced collection of materials in all appropriate formats to support the curriculum of the department.  Special attention will be paid to the areas of the subjects currently being emphasized by the teaching Faculty.