The National Portrait Gallery’s Library supports the Gallery’s research needs. The Library holds published materials including about 35,000 books and 70 periodicals to which the Gallery subscribes. Visitors may consult these resources in the Archive and Library Public Study Room, but must make a booking to do so.
Books and Periodicals
The book collection supports research in British portraiture, history, and biography. Its strengths include:
- works about (and by) artists and photographers represented in the Gallery Collection (and significant figurative artists generally)
- monographs in the history of art and photography
- exhibition catalogues
- biographical reference materials.
A special collection includes approximately 600 books distinguished by their age, associative significance or scarcity. The Library also holds a complete set of Gallery publications, including catalogues of the Gallery’s Collections and exhibitions, and materials contributing to the understanding of British portraiture.
Books are arranged according to a subject-based classification scheme. The majority are on open shelves freely accessible to visitors working in the Public Study Room, with the remainder available for retrieval during the course of a research visit.
Published materials added to the Library since 1994, representing about 20% of the collection, can be found by searching an electronic catalogue. Older accessions are recorded in a card catalogue – conversion of these records to an electronic form is ongoing.
The periodical collection includes most titles vital to a study of art history. In several instances complete runs of periodicals are held.
The Library provides access within the Gallery to a small number of electronic resources, including the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Who’s Who, JSTOR, Early English Books Online, Burney Collection of 17th and 18th Century Newspapers, some electronic journals, and useful online resources linked through the electronic catalogue