Visual Arts: Books

Books can provide

Generally, books provide much more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of a topic than a webpage targeted at the layperson.

You might find it useful to look for books on:Search hints - keywords [Image source: UniSA Library]

Using books - tips

  • If you are new to an area, begin with a general work to gain an overview, then read more specific works
  • As you read, take notes of areas that you can follow up in further searches, e.g. artists, publications, theories, events
  • Select the green subjects or tags links in online search tools (e.g. the Catalogue) to find works on a similar theme
  • Some artists may not have a whole book about them, but have had their work featured in various journals or exhibition catalogues

Is it a scholarly text?

list / liste [Image Source: Open Clip Art Library,, CC0 1.0]

To assess how authoritative a work is consider a range of factors including:

> author's credentials (does the author have expertise or qualifications in the field?)

> publisher - credibility (e.g. a university press is generally regarded more highly than a publisher producing works targeted at the popular market)

> does the author cite references to support claims?


['video_icon', 西沙, CC Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0 (, Image source: flickr (]

Watch the short video Scholarly Sources Explained (3 min) for further help.

Library catalogue search tips

[Horia Varlan, 'Hardcover book gutter and pages', CC Licence: CC BY 2.0, Image source: Flickr

  • Use double quotes to narrow your results e.g. "theory of craft"
  • Search in Title or Author by changing the drop-down menu from All fields
  • Sort by Date(newest) to see the most recently published editions
  • Limit to Format by selecting Book

Common title? Add in some extra information, such as the author's surname, using basic search, for example: art history stokstad - limited by Book

Where's my keyword?

Puzzled when the Catalogue record for a book does not appear to mention what you are looking for (and typed in)?

Scroll down the screen. More information (e.g. subject, summary / description and participating artists) may be listed here.

Not all records have this level of detail - but it's useful when they do! Book reviews in journals can also help guide you to suitable books and may mention more details than contained in the Catalogue book record.

Details that may be present in a book record [Image source: UniSA Library]