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Thomas J. Watson Library

Thomas J. Watson Library, the Museum's central library, is the heart of research and scholarly activity at the Museum. Its collection, together with the distinctive collections of the Museum's departmental libraries, comprises one of the preeminent libraries for research in the history of art.

In Circulation

American Bound: Watson's Rare Trade Bindings, Part 1

Holly Phillips, Associate Manager for Acquisitions, Thomas J. Watson Library; Diane De Fazio, Volunteer, Thomas J. Watson Library; and William Blueher, Metadata and Collections Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015

To encourage scholarship and recognize the artistic contributions in the field of bookbinding design, Watson Library is developing a collection of nineteenth-century American trade bindings, purchased with funds from the Friends of Thomas J. Watson Library. This collection is currently composed of over three hundred decorative books dating from the 1870s through 1930. Spanning the Aesthetic, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco periods, the collection represents major designers, artists, themes, and techniques.

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In Circulation

Cube Your Enthusiasm: Early Cubist Source Material

Katherine Borkowski, Digital Resources and Instructional Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Have you ever looked at a work of art and thought to yourself, "What was the artist thinking?" How about an entire style or movement? Whether you are looking for theoretical enlightenment, practical guidance, or just a little context, the writings of artists, their supporters, and critics are valuable reference materials in the study of art. As the exhibition Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection nears the end of its run, it seems only fitting to take a moment to look to the Museum's libraries to explore our own collection of source materials regarding early Modern art.

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In Circulation

Nolen Library Welcomes Renowned Illustrator Brian Floca

Leah High, Public Services Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The picture book is often one of our first points of entry into the world of art appreciation and a natural companion to the museum experience. Fittingly, Nolen Library offers more than six hundred picture books for visitors to explore and enjoy together as part of their trip to the Met. Throughout the year, Nolen Library hosts special programs that give visitors of all ages (there are many grown-up picture-book lovers among us!) the opportunity to meet the talented creators of these timeless portals into the imagination.

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In Circulation

Lamps, Slippers, Trumpets, and More: Recently Digitized Trade Catalogs

Holly Phillips, Associate Manager for Acquisitions, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Trade catalogs have long been a way for businesses to show off their wares. Looking at these catalogs from past decades—sometimes centuries—gives us a glimpse into what the commercial and social life of earlier times was like. We can see what people used to wear, what sort of products they used to yearn for, and even how they lit their homes. In the Nagel-Chase catalog near the end of this post, you'll see that a "600 candle power" chandelier is offered up for sale, confronting you with an age in which illumination was still thought of in terms of candles—something almost totally alien to most of us today.

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In Circulation

If You Build It, One Million Pageviews Will Come: A Digital Collections Story

William Blueher, Metadata and Collections Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner's character famously hears the words, "If you build it, he will come." And sure enough, by the film's end Costner has built it and the people have come. It is Hollywood, so of course everything works out in the end.

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In Circulation

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, Your Branches Green Delight Us!

Dan Lipcan, Assistant Museum Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The holiday season brings fragrant trees into our homes, green wreaths attached to doors, and carpets of pine boughs to the dividers along the uptown stretches of Park Avenue near the Met. In concert with the season, I thought I'd highlight a few items from Watson Library's special collections that feature Christmas decorations and evergreen motifs.

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In Circulation

The Importance of a Good Hat: Individuality in Millinery

Gwen Mayhew, Senior Library Associate, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The practice of millinery dates back to the early sixteenth century. Although hats have come in and out of fashion over the years, milliners, who make hats for women (hat makers make hats for men), have always been making hats that reflect the style and fashion of their culture. For example, in the 1920s, a close-fitting hat such as a cloche was made to show off a shorter hairstyle, which was becoming increasingly popular.

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In Circulation

Introducing Nolen Library

Leah High, Public Services Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Conveniently located on the ground floor in the Uris Center for Education is one of the Met's lesser-known gems: Nolen Library. Open to all visitors, Nolen Library welcomes readers of all ages to explore a wide range of materials about the Museum's collection, exhibitions, programs, and the history of art.

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In Circulation

Crowdsourcing the Letters of Frederick Stuart Church

William Blueher, Metadata and Collections Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In a recent post on Frederick Stuart Church for the Highlights from the Digital Collections blog, I asked readers to help me decipher what was written in a few of Church's letters. Within weeks I had responses from two different readers—one of whom has published a book on Church, and the other who is currently working on a book about the artist.

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In Circulation

Decorated Paper Techniques: A Selection From Watson Library's Special Collections

Jenny Adolfson, Book Conservation Associate, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sometimes—and, in fact, frequently here in Watson—we do judge a book by its cover (or its endpapers). From the gold-tooled fine bindings of the Renaissance to nineteenth-century mass-produced publishers' bindings, the book as an object of beauty has always been important to collectors. While there are many techniques used to create decorated paper, four are represented here—paste, marbling, block printing, and Dutch gilt—in items from Watson Library's special collections.

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