• Digital and tangible: the collection and accessibility of sketchbooks in the UK's galleries, libraries, archives and museums

    James Hobbs (see profile)
    Archives--Administration, Archival resources--Management, Archival materials--Management, Archives--Collection management, Archival materials--Conservation and restoration, Art--Research, Drawing, Library education, Archives--Study and teaching
    Item Type:
    City, University of London
    accessibility, art, Conservation, digital libraries, sketchbooks, Archival management and conservation, Artistic research, Digital archives, Library and Archival Studies
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    The aim of this research is to understand and explore the ways in which sketchbooks are collected by and accessed in institutions in the UK. This is an under-researched topic in the UK and internationally, with previous sketchbook research focusing rather on articles and books about how particular artists use sketchbooks. As part of a qualitative mixed-method approach, four artists are interviewed to get an overview of the issues they faced when accessing sketchbooks in a variety of galleries, libraries, archives and museums. This approach is augmented by a questionnaire sent to institutions identified as holding sketchbooks. It covered topics relating to how sketchbooks come to be held by these institutions and how they are made available to the public, and it asked for ideas on how to improve the accessibility of sketchbooks in the future. The findings show a variety of perspectives and approaches, and a trend towards greater online access to sketchbooks through digitisation. While sketchbooks are generally available to be touched and examined closely in archives, digitisation broadens access and aids preservation by lessening physical handling of the books. The range and variety of the qualitative data that was collected from a diverse group of institutions, covering the arts, architecture, engineering, science and crafts, makes it difficult to offer specific recommendations, but the findings are useful for institutions that hold sketchbooks that are looking to bring them to a wider audience, and suggest routes towards making them more easily found, as well as raising their profile.
    Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MSc in Library Science at City, University of London.
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago


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