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Art & Design Research Guide: Finding Books

An introductory guide to research in Art & Design at Sacred Heart University Library

Searching the Library Catalog

Use the Library Catalog to search our collection of over 310,000 books, videos, journal titles*, and other resources, including links to over 150,000 electronic books and almost 50,000 electronic journals.

Keyword searching is a good place to start, since it uses natural language – you can search your topic in your words.  A keyword search will return records that include the words you entered, anywhere in the record – title, chapter heading, subject, etc.  This can make a search very broad – but is also very useful in finding your topic in, say, just one chapter of a book. To narrow a too-broad keyword search, browse the subject links on records of the books that are most relevant to your topic, and click to find other relevant books.

Search the catalog by title if you are looking for a particular book, or by author for a particular person’s works.

Subject searching uses a controlled vocabulary – for example, the subject heading in our catalog for “Dutch painting” is “Painting, Dutch.”  If you search “Dutch painting” as a keyword, you will find records that include those words – say, in the title of the book.  If you search “Painting, Dutch” as a subject, you will get records for books on the topic, whether those books describe such a group as “Dutch painting” or “Painting, Dutch”.  

A keyword search looks for words, but a subject search looks for a concept. Because of their different strengths, using both keyword and subject searching will often get the best results.

Use Advanced Keyword Search for additional search options, and to limit your search by location, type of material, language, or year.

*To search for journal articles focused on the disciplines of Art & Design, use this page for further information.

Exploring the Shelves

If you want to simply browse the shelves of the Ryan Matura Library for materials, you can look for works on Art & Design by call number. Use the subclass designations at the beginning of the call number to direct you to information on the topic of your choice. Below is a list of the Library of Congress subclass call numbers for Art & Design:

  • N     Visual Arts
  • NA   Architecture
  • NB   Sculpture
  • NC   Drawing.  Design.  Illustration.
  • ND   Painting
  • NK   Decorative Arts
  • NX   Arts in General

Electronic Books

While books in the collection, whether print or digital, can all be found using the library catalog, a large number of the library's electronic book collection is accessible directly from the eBook Academic Collection.


-eBook Academic Collection

On the eBook Academic Collection homepage, click on the eBooks link at the top of the page.


To only generate results within the appropriate subject area, find the "Browse by Category" menu below the three-box, advanced search and on the left-hand side of the page and select "Arts & Architecture."


From the "Results List" page, you can further limit your results by using the "Refine Results" menu to the left of the page. Additionally, you can utilize further "Advanced Search" functions, located below the first search box, to search for specific titles, subjects, authors, etc. within the "Arts & Architecture" section.

Interlibrary Loan

What is an Interlibrary Loan?

  • Interlibrary Loan is a service that makes it possible for SHU students, faculty, and staff to obtain copies of books, articles, and other library materials that are not owned by SHU from other libraries.  SHU Library, like many other academic libraries, both lends and borrows materials from other cooperating institutions.  Sacred Heart University students, faculty, and staff are eligible to use the service. A request form is available below.

Request an Interlibrary Loan

Please note: Before requesting an article, a book chapter or book through the library Interlibrary Loan service, please search Sacred Heart University Library's catalog and Research Databases, our A to Z Listing, making sure the library does NOT own the resource.  We cannot request items that we already own.  Consult the Reference Desk (203-371-7726) on the 1st Floor of the library if you have any problem with this. 

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