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Too much to look at, too much to read

  • Trevor Fawcett


When applied to the visual arts the concept of universal availability implies access to a massive and heterogeneous corpus of visual and archival material as well as printed texts. Achieving full bibliographic and iconographic control will be an enormous undertaking and may eventually become counterproductive. Universal availability also supposes the widest possible popular access to art, despite doubts sometimes expressed about the effects of overexposure. Community libraries have a special responsibility towards the general public’s visual education through targetted selection of printed and visual resources and through the encouragement of local art initiatives.



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1. Phillpot, Clive. “Art libraries for the people”. Art Libraries Journal, v.10 no.4 Winter 1985 p.311.
2. Pacey, Philip. ‘The universal availability of art publications: a global context”. Art Libraries Journal v. 10 no.3 Autumn 1985 p. 730; “International co-operation between art libraries 1: towards an international cooperative acquisitions scheme”. Art Libraries Journal v.11 no.2 1986 p.913.
3. Art Journal 1862 p.61 and 109.
4. Freitag, Wolfgang. “Tapping a serviceable reservoir: the selection of periodicals for art libraries”. Art Libraries Journal v.1 no.2 Summer 1976 p.1021.
5. Freitag, Wolfgang. “Co-operative collection development and resource sharing among art libraries: past and present”. Art Libraries Journal v.11 no.2 1986 p.1932.
6. Borges, Jorge Luis. “The Library of Babel” in Fictions, ed. Kerrigan, A.. London, 1965.
7. Roberts, Helene E.Visual resources: proposals for an ideal network”. Art Libraries Journal v. 10 no.3 Autumn 1985 p.3241.
8. The Athenaeum 1857 p.8567.
9. Smith, Roger. “The rise and fall of the Art Unipn Print”. Print Quarterly v.3 no.2 June 1986.
10. Ruskin, John. The Works of John Ruskin, ed. Cook, E.T. and Wedderburn, A., 39 vols. London, 1903-12 v.22 p.4712.
11. Wind, Edgar. Art and Anarchy. London, 1963 p.89.
12. Ibid. p.9.
13. Ibid. p.101.
14. Rosenberg, Harold. “Art books, book art, art” in The Anxious Object. Chicago, 111., 1966 p. 1978.
15. Ibid.
16. Cited in Webb, W.L., “The end of the world is nigh”, The Guardian 2 December 1986.

Too much to look at, too much to read

  • Trevor Fawcett


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