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Art History

Search our catalog

Use the search box below to run a quick search for books, or use the advanced search page to limit your material type to books prior to searching. 

How to search for print books in our library

1. Use the search box within the "Search our catalog" box on this page to input your keywords.

2. Look to the column on the right under the "Material type" section and click "Books."
Screenshot of the section of the library catalog described above with a superimposed red arrow pointing to "books."

3. Now look to the right column again under "Show only." Click "Available in the Library."
Screenshot of the described section of the library catalog above with a superimposed red arrow pointing to "Available in the Library."

4. See a title that looks interesting? The information you need to find it in-person is right there in the list of results. The entry itself often has other information to help you determine if it's useful, so click on the title if you want to know more about it first.

Screenshot of an entry in the catalog with "Available Online" underneath the title, author, and publisher information. A superimposed red arrow points to the floor it's located on and the call number.

5. Before coming to the library, check our hours and make sure you have your UMass Pass to check out the book!

Browsing for Art Books

An image of a large 20th century Korean folding screen illustrated with piles of books, vaes, fruits, flowers, and furniture.
Unidentified Artist, Books and Scholars' Possessions, early 20th century, ten-panel folding screen; ink and color on silk, 
69 x 180" (175.3 x 457.2 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,


Our library uses Library of Congress Classification to organize our books by call number. If you know a little bit about what the call numbers stand for, you can browse the stacks more efficiently. 


Every call number that starts with N is about the visual arts. It all could be useful to you. Here are the main subclasses and a few sub-subclasses that art historians often have interest in. For more detailed information about the N's try looking here.


3rd Floor: 

N - Visual Arts

N 81-390 - Study and teaching. Research

N 400-3990 - Art museums, galleries, etc.

N 5300-7418 - History

NA - Architecture

NA 190-1555.5 – History

NA 2335-2360 - Competitions

NA 2400-2460 – Museums. Exhibitions

NB – Sculpture

                NB 60-1115 – History

                NB 1120-1133 – Study and teaching

                NB 1134-1134.4 – Competitions

NC - Drawing, Design, Illustration

                NC 50-266 – History of drawing

                NC 390-670 – Study and teaching

                NC 673-677 – Competitions

ND – Painting

                ND 49-813 – History

                ND 1115-1120 – Study and teaching

                ND 1630-1662 – Examination and conservation of paintings

NE - Print Media

                NE 400-774 – History of printmaking

                NE 970-973 – Study and teaching (of printmaking)

                NE 975-975.4 – Competitions

                NE 1030-1196.3 – History (of wood engraving)

                NE 1634-1749 – History (of metal engraving)

                NE 1980-2055.5 – History (of etching and aquatint)

NK - Decorative Arts

                NK 600-806 – History

                NK 1135-1149.5 – Arts and crafts movement

                NK 1175-1498 – History (of decoration and ornament. Design)

                NK 1648-1678 – Religious art

                NK 1700-2138 – History (of interior decoration and house decoration)

NX - Arts in General

                NX 280-410 – Study and teaching. Research

                NX 411-415 – Competitions

                NX 420-430 – Exhibitions

                NX 440-632 – History of the arts

                NX 700-750 – Patronage of the arts


5th Floor:

AM – Museums. Collectors and collecting

TR - Photography

TT - Handicrafts. Arts and Crafts

Click here to see a more thorough explanation of the Ts (look to TR and TT specifically).

Reading Call Numbers

Here's a quick guide on how to read call numbers in our library (and most other academic libraries).


An image of a call number on a side of a book. An arrow points to the first line.

The first line is read in alphabetical order.

  • ex. This would be before the PQ's but after the PM's.


An image of a call number on a side of a book. An arrow points to the second line.

Read the second line in numerical order.

  • ex. This would be after PN 6746 and before PN 6747.1 or PN 6748.


An image of a call number on a side of a book. An arrow points to the third line.

The third line is tricky. Read the letter in alphabetical order then the number as a decimal.

  • ex. PN 6747 .S245 would come before PN 6747 .S5, because .5 in decimal is really .500!


An image of a call number on a side of a book. An arrow points to the fourth line.

Sometimes the fourth line will look like this and you read it exactly like the other line.

  • ex. PN 6747 .S245 P4713 would come before PN 6747 .S245 P8, because .8 in decimal is really .800!


An image of a call number on a side of a book. An arrow points to the fifth line.

When you see a line near the bottom that looks like a year, it is a year! This goes in numerical order.

  • ex. If there was a book just like this except the date was 2003, it would go before the 2007 edition.


You could think of a call number like a detailed address in reverse: planet, country, state, city, street, street number. Each line helps you narrow down the book's exact location!

How to find print books we don't own