Art and Art History


The art and art history collection serves the needs of the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, which offers art history and studio courses, and undergraduate as well as graduate programs up to the Ph.D. level. Students and faculty enrolled in undergraduate and graduate level courses in certain departments such as the Faculty of Education, Classical Studies, History, Anthropology, French, Italian, and Hispanic Studies, and students enrolled in Digital Media courses at the Great Northern Way campus are users of the AArP collection, as are staff members from the Museum of Anthropology and the Helen and Morris Belkin Art Gallery.

Current areas of collecting

The art selector covers European, North American, Asian, First Nations, and Latin American art for all major artists and artistic movements. Our coverage in these areas ranges from ancient to contemporary art movements and prominent new artists, but only materials in which there is substantial critical text. We maintain a small collection of materials on costume design.

Research and publishing characteristics

Art books can be among the most expensive to purchase. Many titles, including exhibition catalogues, are limited editions. There is the added problem of currency with exhibition catalogues as some are published during the exhibition itself, and often in very small press runs. Many exhibition catalogues are not listed in the book trade lists and require direct contact with the galleries and museums. There are a limited number of books published or distributed in Canada. Books in all languages from all countries are needed to support up to the Ph.D. level.


As the study of art depends on visual material, we subscribe to ARTstor, a comprehensive online image database, while also maintaining picture collections as well as books. We purchase catalogue raisonnés, reference books, books on significant art collections in major museums and galleries, or privately owned.

Chronological limits


There are no chronological exclusions.

Publication date

The majority of acquisitions will be for current publications, with retrospective purchasing to fill collection gaps and to meet research needs of users, in particular faculty.


Predominantly English language, but we collect in Western European languages such as French, German, Italian, and Spanish. When a significant book is translated into English, we try to purchase that as well as the original version. We buy books in Asian languages as long as there is some text in western languages.

Geographic origin

We collect from all areas worldwide; emphasizing books published in Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain, and Latin America.


Slides are not purchased by the Art + Architecture + Planning Library as AHVA maintains its own Visual Resource Collection consisting of slides, digitized images, and film/DVDs. We do not collect film and video titles, as this falls under the purview of Koerner Library. Our coverage of auction catalogues is highly selective and for the most part, limited to auctions in Canada.

Collections in other UBC Libraries/ Areas of overlap

Asian Library: Material on the arts with text in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Indic languages.

Education Library: Material on teaching art, and some “how to” books.

Koerner Library: Multidisciplinary material involving a mix of visual art and literature, music, theatre, film, etc.

Woodward Library: Material on botanical illustration and anatomical drawing.