06 March 2010

Two library blogs of note

Houghton Library Blog
The blog presents selections from the rare books collection held in the Houghton Library. It's a very lovely collection that spans centuries of European literary culture. The blog itself is a straightforward presentation of the collection highlights, but also a useful advocacy tool for the importance of book preservation. The entries are brief, but links to the exhibits of the collection or the bibliographic records of the preserved documents are provided.

The blog itself is simple and pleasing. The background is white and set with simple type and good pictures. It's not complicated or cluttered to scan or navigate. On the right side are the recent blog posts and the post categories. It looks good and makes the library look professional. If I had to make any recommendations, I'd say that the blog could have a more distinct visual presence and post more information on archival library matters.

UC Berkeley Art History News & Notes Blog (http://blogs.lib.berkeley.edu/arthistory.php)
The blog presents announcements for the Art History Library. Some of the announcements involve recent acquisitions for the Art History Library, but most of the announcements are informational in nature. These announcements are usually links to resources for studying art history, i.e. ArtStor, ArtBabble, CAA Reviews. These are helpful links and dovetail with the library mission of being an academic resource. Students can learn about how to use library resources. At the top of the blog are tabs for using the UC Berkeley library system. The blog has integrated itself into the library as a whole rather being separate from it.

The blog itself is rather stark and ugly. As a blog for an art library, it lacks artwork or any visual appeal at all. There is nothing to make this blog distinct from other blogs or even web pages. What it lacks makes it distinct in a bad way. I'd recommend that the blog dress itself up to look more appealing and less skeletal. It has good links to good content, but it's very lacklustre in appearance.

03 March 2010

Koerner and Friedrich are back/Abrams does Mary justice

I found two excellent books at the university library today. One is new to me and the other is an old favorite. Reaktion Books has brought back to print Joseph Koerner's book on Caspar Friedrich. I read this book in college a few years ago after finishing Koerner's other book on Durer. I was quite impressed with his writing on Friedrich and enjoyed his take on the paintings greatly. I was rather disappointed that I couldn't obtain a copy then, but now I can at last. It's a great book on Romanticism as well as Friedrich and the reproductions do his work great justice. Get it now and you'll never see painting in the same way. It'd be nice if he also wrote a book on French naturalism, but I guess I'll have to wait.

The second was a book from Abrams on Mary. Simply, it is a superb collection of art and a lovely little tour of religious painting and iconography. The selection of work is masterful and I found delights and revelations on every other page. It's organized well with sections on Mary and the saints, Mary and Jesus, Mary at the Crucifixion - amongst others - as well as sections of Marian prefigurations and Marian apparitions. It surveys Western art and provides helpful context and information for each painting. It is an excellent book and a helpful reference tool for religious art. The beauty of the paintings make this book quite enjoyable so even if religious art isn't an interest, the artists themselves make good recommendations for this text.

These are both new books from last fall and I've just learned of them. They're small books so they could easily serve as guides in museums. The Mary one is small and thick, but bound for easy use while the Koerner one is medium sized with good detail on the reproductions. I fell in love with them and I'm glad to see them in such excellent editions.

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