art museums of america; a guide to collections in the united states and canadaby lila sherman


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  • ART MUSEUMS OF AMERICA; A GUIDE TO COLLECTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES ANDCANADA by Lila ShermanReview by: Marcia R. CollinsARLIS/NA Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 6 (OCTOBER 1980), p. 185Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Art Libraries Society of NorthAmericaStable URL: .Accessed: 15/06/2014 20:32

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  • A RLISI NA Newsletter, October 1980 185

    izations* names and addresses arranged by states. No indication is

    given of special interests or activities, staff, funding, or projects. Since this is a first effort, perhaps later editions will contain fuller information.


    Rifkind, Carole. A FIELD GUIDE TO AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE. N.Y.: New American Library, 1980. 322 p. illus. LC 79-29651. $19.95.

    This is very simply one of the most attractive and usable books on the arts to be seen this year. From the seventeenth to the twentieth century, the Field Guide presents a classified survey of

    American architecture. It is a sort of Bannister Fletcher for the

    history of architecture in the United States. The book is divided into four parts which deal with functional types: residential, eccle

    siastical, civic, and commercial and utilitarian; each of the main sections is arranged chronologically.

    The major part of the volume is given to its illustrative matter,

    mostly line drawings of elevations and floor plans drawn from the Historic American Buildings Survey or the Historic American

    Engineering Record, and a few photographs. Although interest

    ingly written in a manner which conveys some of the social history of the buildings' times, the text is not lengthy. The well-selected and

    arranged illustrations communicate the essentials, and it was wise to have alllowed them to speak for themselves. The book's layout is

    cohesive and excellent, utilizing all elements?the drawings, the

    schematically rendered architectural ornament used for the head

    pieces, and the attractive type?to best advantage. Designed to serve students who need to identify architecture, the book should also provide many pleasurable hours for the growing number of

    non-specialists with an interest in architecture and preservation. The librarian has only one question: How can a book of this

    high quality be published without adequate indexes? Do the users of popular works not need to find facts quickly too? Following the text is a list of 119 terms, most of which are architect or firm names. No names of buildings or cities, and just a few building materials, methods, and types are included. Fortunately, the book's lucid

    arrangement and presentation are mitigating factors. In all other senses this guide demonstrates that a reference book does not have to be a boring assemblage of data with a banal, redundant com

    mentary. This is a book which works. M.R.C.

    Sherman, Lila. ART MUSEUMS OF AMERICA; A GUIDE TO COLLEC TIONS IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA. N. Y.: Mor row, 1980. 416 p., photos LC 79-20022. $12.95.

    Is there room on our reference shelves for another list of muse ums in America? Yes, in this case, because this is a guide in the true sense of Baedaker or Michelin. Lila Sherman's purpose was "to

    celebrate, in a practical way, the great surge towards the the United States." Her book succeeds in being an impressive listing, written with complimentary bias, of fine arts museums in the United States and Canada. It is remarkable that this sort of

    handbook has not been available before now. Erwin O. Chris tensen's 1968 Guide to Art Museums in the United States listed

    only 88 museums and is long out of date. This new guidebook includes over 550 institutions and presents a comprehensive view of American museums.

    Art Museums is not comparable to either the AAM's Official Museum Directory or the American Art Directory, both of which contain a greater number of listings but with briefer entries. The information in this new guide offers a favorable contrast to the

    undigested, questionnaire-generated data in the larger directories. Ms. Sherman's method is to profile each museum in a concise

    paragraph or two. Each entry is a thumbnail sketch which gives the

    history of the building and the collection, a selection of important museum holdings, exhibits, special events, library, restaurant and museum store facilities and services, hours, directions and parking information. An admirable job has been done assembling the information and illustrations, then compacting it into readable,

    though terse paragraphs. The book's arrangement by state and

    province seems especially useful for travellers. One cavil: Contrary to the publisher's claim, the subject index to

    collections is not unique. Both The Directory of World Museums and Museums of the World contain extensive subject indexes to

    collections. Also, many of this index's categories are too general or

    unfocused to be useful, e.g., "Sculpture," "Contemporary,""Mod ern," with no mention of MOMA under the last.


    SLIDES TWO Irvine, Betty Jo. SLIDE LIBRARIES: A GUIDE FOR ACADEMIC INSTITU TIONS, MUSEUMS, AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS. 2nd edition. Littleton, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1979. 321

    p., 98 illus. ISBN 0-87287-202-5. $19.50. A second edition of Slide Libraries has been badly needed, since

    the first publication has been out of print for some years. Written with the assistance of P. Eileen Fry, this revision uses the same

    format as the 1974 version. A book that directs readers to sources

    and resources, Slide Libraries provides not only a general over

    view of the subject but also specific information on: ( 1 ) administra tion and staffing, (2) classification and cataloging, (3) library techniques and tools, (4) acquisition and production methods, (5) storage systems, (6) planning for physical facilities, and (7) projec tion systems.

    Longer by some 100 pages, the 1979 edition includes new sec

    tions on environment controls in the slide library, distributors and manufacturers of materials for film care and prevention, sources for slides on crafts and folk arts, and bibliographical entries for conference programs on slides. Much of the text has been enlarged and updated; the numerous figures that illustrate slide labels,

    catalog cards and shelflist cards are a useful addition. The Selected

    Bibliography has been culled for outdated material and expanded to about 750 entries, double the number in the 1974 edition. There are also additional references at the end of each chapter.

    Although Irvine stresses the need for professional slide librar ians to administer slide collections, this is obviously not always the situation. One of the important aspects of Slide Libraries is that it can be used not only by the professional in a large organization but also by the non-professional curator who oversees a collection in a small museum or college. However, for the latter, who may have had no library training, certain elementary terms, such as Cutter

    numbers, might need a brief word of explanation. Moreover, the

    importance of all professional career people supporting their pro fessional organizations needs to be more heavily stressed. It would be helpful to have a list of the various organizations which include slide librarian groups, accompanied by the name and address of the Executive Secretary, newsletter publisher, or officer of the organi zation who could be contacted. Although the 1979 edition men tions the many valuable articles and guides published by ARLIS/NA, MACAA, and CAA, no information is provided for the unsophisticated beginner as to how to obtain these materials.

    As the only book published on the subject, Slide Libraries is obviously valuable, and this new edition was needed in order to

    keep the material relevant. For instance, a look into the future of reference collections is provided by the descriptions of the compu terized systems?and the various indexes possible with such pro grams, such as subject indexing?used at the National Collection of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C., the University of California at Santa Cruz, Purdue University for the Bodleian Library illumi nated manuscript slide sets, and Indiana University for the African Studies Program. For those confronted with the classification of decorative art slides, data on the system employed by the Art Institute of Chicago was a welcome addition.

    Naturally, new slide librarians and students will use this second edition. The question arises, d