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Artists' books: managing the unmanageable

Nola Farman (Clovelly, Australia)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 30 May 2008




The artists' book is a hybrid art form: it has no home, no shelf upon which to comfortably reside. Nor is its readership easily described or accounted for. It is a book art form that is in transition; it is still evolving. This paper maps attempts to define the artists' book and explains why definitions fall short and what the slipperiness of the form might imply for library collections.


This article has been informed by a literature search, the examination of special collections of artists' books in libraries in Europe, the UK, North America and Australia as well as negotiations with librarians to acquire books.


The artists' book as a minor genre within both art and literature is also an interdisciplinary practice: as such is difficult to manage and display within the conventional library system.


This article suggests an approach to the inclusion of the artists' book in special library collections.



Farman, N. (2008), "Artists' books: managing the unmanageable", Library Management, Vol. 29 No. 4/5, pp. 319-326.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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