CityLIS Virtual Dissertation Collections. 1. Art and artists

Updated to include dissertations submitted in January 2019.

This is the first of an occasional series of posts in which we celebrate and publicise the excellent work done by CityLIS students in their dissertation projects. Each post will focus on a topic, and present a series of dissertations in that area; this first one deals with art and artists.

The dissertations are mini-research projects, taking four months full-time or eight months part-time. Though necessarily small-scale, the best dissertations can produce results that may be immediately valuable for practice, as well as expanding the knowledge base of the library/information discipline.

All too often, when the dissertation is written up and the student has graduated the results are not publicised any further; this series of blog posts is one of the ways we will address this problem. We are also encouraging our students to deposit their dissertations in the CityLIS area of the Humanities Commons repository; some dissertation titles from the list below are linked to the full text in the Humanities Commons.

Some dissertations are also presented at conferences, or published as journal articles. From the list below, Helen Mason’s dissertation was published in this way: H Mason and L Robinson, The information-related behaviour of emerging artists and designers: inspiration and guidance for new practitioners, Journal of Documentation, 2011, 67(1), 159-180. It has been cited more than 50 times since its publication. An open access version is in the City University repository.

The dissertations listed below show the interest in this topic among CityLIS students over the past decade. They span a wide range of approaches and methods – philosophical and conceptual analyses, case studies, surveys, interviews, international comparisons, action research,  literature reviews, and more – and deal with issues including classification, social media management, information literacy, information behaviour, collection policies, and document theory. There is a strong and continuing interests in all aspects of arts information among CityLIS students.

The hyperlinked dissertations on the list may be accessed in Humanities Commons; anyone interested in the others may obtain a copy from Lyn Robinson ( or David Bawden ( If any former students whose dissertation is on the list happens to read this post, please consider putting a copy in Humanities Commons.

Dissertations: Art and artists

How to explain information to a dead hare: Floridi’s approach to information and its relevance to arts practice
Gordon McQueen (2018)
A conceptual analysis of art works and art practices in light of Floridi’s Philosophy of Information

Digital and tangible: the collection and accessibility of sketchbooks in UK galleries                                                                                                                                         James Hobbs (2017)                                                                                                                          This dissertation examines the way in which artists’ sketchbooks are collected, organised, indexed and made accessible in libraries and other memory institutions in the UK, based on document analysis, interviews with artists, and a survey of sketchbook-holding institutions.

The photobook in the face of pervasive digital resources: is there an enduring need for the physical book among students of photography                           Tristan Hooper (2017)                                                                                                                     This dissertation examines the continuing relevance for photography students of the physical photobook, and its role vis a vis digital sources, based on interviews with librarians, lecturers, and recent graduates, and an online survey of current students.

Social media in art galleries                                                                                            Lucia Lopez Garcia (2017)                                                                                                                This dissertation project examines the ways in which social media are being used in art galleries in London to reach current and potential audiences and increase visitor engagement, focusing on the National Portrait Gallery and the Serpentine Gallery as case studies.

How are new media artists working with cultural institutions to document the creation and authenticity of their work for future access and use? A comparative case study of two digital media residencies at the British Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum                                                                        Wendy Durham (2016)                                                                                                                    This study examines the documentation produced by artists-in-residence in cultural institutions, using residences at the British Library and at the V&A Museum as case studies, based on examination of documents and interviews with stake-holders.

Examining digital art as a new form of document                                                Nicole Rogers (2016)                                                                                                                               This study examines the documentary status of digital art, how it is collected, indexed and made accessible, and the present and future roles of libraries, based on literature and document analysis, and on interviews with librarians, and using the Royal College of Art Library as a case study.

The information seeking behaviour of photography students                            Nick Galvin (2014)                                                                                                                               This study examines the information needs and behaviours of photography students in UK universities, using in-depth qualitative interviews, and focusing on the behaviours and sources involved in finding images.

Classification and the domain of history of art                                                   Jennifer Laurenson (2014)                                                                                                             This study examines the relationship between the academic discipline of art history and the classification of the disciplines’ intellectual materials, focusing on the Dewey Decimal Classification, the Courtauld Classification Scheme, and the Warburg Institute Library Classification.

The artist, the muse, and the library: exploring ‘inspiration’ and the library’s potential role in the creative process                                                                             Cait Peterson (2014)                                                                                                                         This study examines the nature of inspiration for art and design, and the role libraries may play in supporting it, with a detailed literature analysis and in-depth interviews with artists, academics and librarians.

Art in the library: do the arts have a role to play in defining the public library of the future?                                                                                                                        Laura Doggett (2013)                                                                                                                        The relationship between the arts and UK public library service is examined by means of a survey and series of case studies, evaluating ways in which art may be used to increase engagement of public library users.

Teaching information literacy to art and design students                              Antonia Williamson (2011)                                                                                                           Good practice in information literacy instruction for art and design students in UK higher education is evaluated by document analysis, a survey of students, and interviews with librarians, and the results used to plan an information literacy workshop for students at Goldsmiths, University of London.

(Mis)classification and the art/craft divide                                                           Suzanne Cowan (2011)                                                                                                                     This literature-based dissertation examines the the way in which the distinction between fine arts and crafts has developed, employing historical and conceptual analysis.

The library as a reflection of current art theory: investigating the pre-modern, modern and post-modern library                                                                 Sara Ahmad (2010)                                                                                                                           This study examines the extent to which art-based theories have been adopted in wider contexts, including librarianship, focusing on post-modernity, and taking the Bodleian Library as a case study.

How have new ICTs affected the handling of artists’ books in art libraries   Conor Donegan (2010)                                                                                                                    This study examines the way in which artists’ books are handled in UK libraries, in terms of physical organisation and access, and of inclusion and description in catalogues.

The information behaviour of emerging artists                                                     Helen Mason (2009)                                                                                                                           This dissertation examined the ways in which ’emerging artists’, those newly established in practice, engage with information sources, using an in-depth online survey of new graduates from universities and art colleges, mainly in the UK.

Art libraries in the US and UK: a compare and contrast analysis of institutional culture                                                                                                             Leah McGowan (2008)                                                                                                                     This study examines the differences in the practices of art librarians in the United Kingdom and the United States, based on document analysis and a questionnaire survey of academic, public and museum libraries.

The book as object: depictions of the bound volume in modern Western art      Laura Miller (2008)                                                                                                                         This study examines the bound volume of script as an enduring visual symbol, examining the role of books as objects within Western art.

This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.