Department of Art & Art History

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Visual Arts Complex
Visual Arts Complex

Tech Tips: Finding the Best Books, Articles, and Images for Your Project

Going Beyond Google: Finding the Best Books, Articles, and Images for Your Project

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Department of Art and Art History, University of Colorado Boulder, March 2012

  • Allison Page, Art and Architecture Librarian (former)

University Libraries

  • Elaine Paul, Director, Visual Resources Center

Department of Art and Art History; 303.492.6136;



Searching on the Library website

Library homepage and catalog:

  • Use Prospector (on the right side of all library catalog pages) if the item you want is unavailable

Using keywords to search for books and articles

Finding articles

Where to go for further library help



VRC Training and Support

  • The VRC is available for assistance with any of the topics below. Quick drop-in inquiries are welcome; lengthier trainings and consultations may require an appointment so that we can give your needs the attention they deserve. Contact for more information.

Image Files and Sizes

  • Image file formats: JPEGs are compressed, good for presentations and in papers. TIFFs are uncompressed and very large, best for archival purposes.
  • Image sizes for classroom presentations: Data projectors in the Visual Arts Complex currently have a WXGA (1280 width x 768 height) or WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution. For presentations with large numbers of images, reduce the pixel dimensions to these ranges in order to avoid overwhelming your presentation software.
  • Don’t try to enlarge images that you find online; the larger you make them the more they will pixelate.

Google Image Search

  • Advanced image search: Enter search term in Google Image Search. Gear icon appears at upper right, with Advanced search option. Includes searching by image size, file type, and usage rights.
  • Remember:
    • Images within the Deep Web (a.k.a. Invisible or Hidden Web) are not generally visible to Google web crawlers. The Deep Web is FAR bigger than the surface Web (e.g., password-protected sites, unlinked content, databases, etc.).
    • You also cannot always find or trust the descriptive information with images you find on the Internet. Confirm your facts with scholarly sources.


  • Help:
  • System requirements:
  • Registering and signing into an account: Not required to search for images, but required if you would like to save images as groups, download them individually, or export them directly into a PowerPoint presentation.
  • ARTstor is a collection of collections: Images and data come from a variety of sources, therefore sometimes there is inconsistent descriptive information. It’s usually best to begin a search with broad parameters and narrow it with an advanced search as needed. Consider possible alternate spellings of names and terms (e.g., “thangka” and “tanka”).
  • Off campus access: You can access ARTstor any time from a computer on campus. To access it from off campus, there are two methods: VPN software (free through OIT, OR ARTstor’s Remote Access Grace Period: register from any computer on campus — this automatically logs you on for the first time. This launches the 120-day Remote Access Grace Period, during which you can log on to ARTstor from off campus with you e-mail and password. Each time you log in from a computer on campus (including your own laptop), the 120-day clock is reset.
  • Exporting images: Once logged into your account you can export images one at a time as jpegs by double-clicking on a thumbnail and clicking on the download image icon. After accepting the Terms and Conditions of Use, two files will download, an image file (.jpg) and a descriptive data file (.html). You can also save images as an image group and export them directly into a PowerPoint presentation (click once to select thumbnail then go to Organize > Save selected images to > New image group).
  • Image citations: (note that ARTstor lets you export citations).

VRC Image Collection

  • Niche collection of items relating to our departmental curriculum, with a focus on contemporary art, works by our MFA students and studio faculty, images and videos from the Visiting Artist Program, and images requested by our faculty for use in teaching and learning.
  • Instructions for access:
    • Off campus users need a VPN connection (software that makes you appear to be accessing the collection from campus; available for free to CU-Boulder users at the CU-Boulder OIT Web site:
    • Log in (upper right) with the following:
      • username = boulder
      • password = boulder
  • General guide to finding images in the VRC collection:
    • Enter search term(s) at upper right; use quotation marks to find an exact string of text.
    • The Advanced Search feature lets you conduct more specific searches, but as of the moment there is a glitch in the list of fields from which you can choose: a number of fields are appearing but shouldn’t be. For instance, there are three Work Title fields appearing (preferred, search, and sort preferred) — select the search field in these cases.
  • To find videos from the Department’s Visiting Artist Program:
    • VA lectures: keyword search for “visiting artist lecture” (use quotation marks)
    • What Follows interviews: keyword search for “what follows” (use quotation marks)
    • Note that you must log in once more with the same boulder/boulder username and password combination to watch the streaming video.
  • To find images of work by previous MFA students:
    • Do a keyword search for “mfa” (no need for quotation marks)
    • In the Narrow Search column to the left, click on MFA recipient under the Who section.

CU Digital Library (CU-DL)

  • CU system-wide collaboration with the Auraria Higher Education Center (Denver), includes digital collections from many local departments, colleges, libraries, and other institutions from around the world. The VRC image collection is part of the CU-DL.

Other Image Sources

General Search Strategies

The Getty Vocabularies ( can help improve the quality of search results in digital libraries (e.g., ARTstor and the CU Digital Library) and library catalogs (e.g., Chinook, WorldCat, etc.) by providing authoritative search terms. These include artists’ names, geographic locations, periods and styles, and other terms related to art and art history. For other tips, see Finding Images Online from JISC Digital Media (

Scanning and Photographing Images


U.S. Copyright Office

General and Educational Copyright Sites

Public Domain and Copyleft

Appropriation Art and Copyright

Image Citations