Wed 3 March 2021

The Warburg Library shares its catalogue with the Art Discovery Group union catalogue since 2017. Launched in 2014, this international catalogue is a unique tool for art-focused research, using the infrastructure of OCLC WorldCat. WorldCat is not available in every library, including at the University of London. Our contribution allows researchers at the Warburg and SAS to use the tools of WorldCat and makes our collections more visible worldwide.  

Art Discovery Group catalogue brings together bibliographic data from sources including institutional, thematic and archival repositories, online bibliographies, publishers’ archives, review databases, open access publishing platforms, and e-journal collections.  

The origins of the Art Discovery Group catalogue can be found in merging the metadata from a set of national union and museum catalogues, including the KVK (Karlsruhe Virtueller Katalog), the union catalogue of French national museums, the Riijksmuseum and the Getty Research Library collections. Further metadata was added from the Hathi Trust and Google Books, and many other libraries and partner organisations followed. It has recently incorporated Scipio, an index of auction catalogue collections in 25 organisations, dating from the late sixteenth century to the present.  

It is particularly useful for scoping and doing preliminary searches or finding the location of a specific book within a world library that can be requested through inter library loan.  

Key print tools in art historical scholarship, like exhibition and auction catalogues, remain limited in open access formats. The pandemic has accelerated the need for, and use of, open access material. JISC Library Hub  (the major union catalogue for British research libraries) now makes full-text open access material the most relevant hits in their search results.  Library and digital rights associations around the world, and mandates such as Plan S, are creating expanded access to copyrighted electronic material. Art Discovery network is increasingly offering full text material and image collections too. The future of such union catalogues will be as much to link to open access material as to collate metadata.