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Starting points for research in art

Reed Library Catalog

In the Library Catalog, you can search holdings from Reed and Summit (a group of 39 academic libraries in the Pacific Northwest.)

To search a specific database, select the “Databases” button and find the desired database in the list.

To find materials beyond Reed and Summit libraries, select the "WorldCat" button. This expands your search to libraries worldwide and allows you to request materials through Interlibrary Loan.

Search Strategies


All research begins with the language used to think about your topic. This language provides keywords to frame your research topic. Start your search by developing a simple concept map of your topic using keywords.

Here is a sample keyword concept map to begin research on Italian Renaissance portraits

Concept of place or time Concept of material/technique Concept of subject
16th century portraits nobility
Renaissance oil painting peasants
Italy   patronage

Subject Headings

A subject heading is a phrase used to describe content or subject matter. Finding the subject heading that leads to the information you need can be the most difficult step in doing library research. The keywords you use to describe your topic may not be the same words or in the same order as the subject headings used in the catalog. If you were looking for book on German painters, you could search for keywords German painting or use the subject heading, "Painting--German"

Start your search by using keywords in your own natural language. From the catalog results list, find an item of interest and click on the full record to see the subject headings assigned to that item. Click on the relevant subject heading to retrieve more items in the same category. Be sure to keep track of particular phrases that narrow or broaden your results.

Always remember that you can Ask a Librarian if you need help during your research.