Architecture, the focus of this issue, is held to be the ‘mother of the arts’. It is also referred to as the ‘queen of the decorative arts’. But in the family of art libraries and art librarianship, architecture is often a neglected stepchild. So I welcome the invitation extended in this issue of the Art Libraries Journal to the ‘Cinderella of the arts’, and hope that her appearance at the art ball will extend beyond midnight.
Over the past quarter of a century or so that I have been an architectural librarian, I have sometimes wondered why architecture libraries are isolated from their sister libraries in the world of art and design, and why architecture libraries and librarians feel the need to separate themselves from their art and design siblings. Is it because the art community is uncomfortable with architecture? If so, is this because architecture is outside the mainstream of art education or art history teaching? Or is it because architecture libraries are generally part of professional institutes, schools of architecture or architectural firms, whose concerns and affiliations may have more in common with the engineering sciences (civil, structural, materials, environmental), the building and construction industries, urban and landscape design, town and country planning, and estate, project and business management, than with the more scholarly and historical focus of art libraries in museums and universities?