The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards Columbia a Grant to Study Contemporary Art History and Architecture Scholarship


NEW YORK, September 27, 2005 - The Columbia University Libraries have received a planning grant in the amount of $50,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a project to explore the landscape of scholarly publishing in the fields of art history and architecture, with the objective of understanding the challenges faced by researchers and scholars in these disciplines.

Scholars and publishers alike face an array of challenges. Researchers in the field must contend with shrinking opportunities for publishing their work, thereby jeopardizing the intellectual vitality of the areas of art history and architecture. Publishers confront commercial pressures and increasing costs that constrain their ability to publish in certain fields of scholarship. The goal of the study is to understand the scope of retrenchment in monograph publishing, the shifts occurring in the supply and demand for these types of publications, the reasons behind these changes, and effects on scholars at different stages in their careers.

Hilary Ballon, Professor of Architectural History and former chair of the Department of Art History at Columbia, and Mariët Westermann, Professor of Fine Arts and Director of The Institute of Fine Arts at New York University will lead this project, in consultation with Lawrence McGill, Director of Research and Planning at the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at Princeton University, and Kate Wittenberg, Director of the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia.

“A key question is how the changes in scholarly publishing are affecting the intellectual dynamism in the field of art history,” reported Professor Ballon. “Each genre in art history scholarship, from monographs to journal articles to exhibition catalogues, is valuable and makes different contributions to scholarship. We look forward to exploring this sector in greater detail.”

James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, noted, “scholarly publishing is undergoing a series of revolutionary changes, and this investigation will help us to better address the problems in this area that will yield some new models applicable to art history and other areas of study.”

The study will be carried out in several phases, beginning in September 2005: data collection; focus sessions with art historians; targeted discussions with publishers in the field; and a summit meeting of all constituent groups, including authors, publishers, and the Mellon Foundation to discuss the research findings and their implications.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

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09/27/05 RS