Opening Artists’ Books (OAB) intends to facilitate access to artists’ books in collections that utilize standard cataloging procedures. By linking commonly used vocabulary to controlled vocabularies, we hope that scholars, makers, and community users of artists’ books will be better equipped to research individual interests. The site is a work in progress and currently provides definitions of terms used to describe binding styles/book structures and production techniques/media as well as visual exemplars and resources for further investigation. The site continues the work of the ARLIS-NA Artists Book Thesaurus (ABT) and includes the findings of that project in addition to expanded terms and links to cataloging databases such as Library of Congress Genre and Form Index (LCGF), Getty Research Institute Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), and Rare Books & Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries Controlled Vocabularies (RBMS).


On the ARTISTS’ BOOKS TERMS page, definitions, links to resources, and visual exemplars can be accessed by clicking on individual terms in the alphabetized list. This index presents primary terms that our experience and research have thus far proven the most useful. The search function allows a user to type in any term and discover potential secondary and linked terms including those in the aforementioned cataloging databases as well as broader terms (BT), narrower terms (NT), synonyms (SYN), and alternative or “also called” terms (AC). The only adaptation made to ABT definitions (when they are the only definition presented) is to make terms singular. The SUGGEST A TERM page allows a user to submit suggestions for commonly used terms that will enhance and expand discoverability.


Current contributors to this project are Associate Librarian Marnie Powers-Torrey and Graduate Fellow Jonathan Sandberg. We thank the Marriott Library’s Website Development staff Amanda Crittenden, Leah Martin Donaldson, and Gabi Sui for bringing this site into being. We also offer our gratitude to the current stewards of the Artists’ Books Thesaurus project Heather Slania, Director of MICA’s Decker Library, and Suzanne Rackover, University Librarian at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, for their collegial willingness to share their data and findings in support of the OAB project. We are incredibly grateful for the support of the University of Utah’s Digital Matters Faculty Grant, which made this project possible.