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SAM’s American Art Library: A Collection of Collectors: Professor David Tatham

An art museum is often fittingly described as “a collection of collectors,” for each is founded on the gifts of magnanimous individuals who loved art and built personal collections that became an invaluable public resource.

The same can be said about library book collections, too—they represent the personal interests of individual readers. This is especially the case with the American art book collection found within the other collections of the Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library at SAM downtown. The museum’s founding director, Dr. Richard Fuller, took a special interest in building a reference library to enhance public knowledge of the city’s art collection, and his tenure was marked by yearly growth of the book collection in all areas, through purchases, gifts, and exchanges with other libraries. Over the years, the library grew in relationship to the growth of individual curatorial departments, with American art thus little represented, since American art was not actively collected or exhibited at SAM.

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SAM Libraries: Book(s) of the Month Club: May and June

I didn’t get an entry in for May, so you’re getting a double-whammy of book highlights this month!

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. Many artists acknowledge, raise awareness of or define their own sexuality through their artistic practice. We have a number of books in our libraries that address the art, intersections, relationships and crossroads of the LGBT community.

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SAM Libraries: Book(s) of the Month Club: April

April is the month when we celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970. Interestingly, Nelson announced his intent to have a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment – which led to the first “earth day” – in the spring of 1970 at a conference in Seattle in September 1969. (Source:  EarthLink.)

Earth Day gives us a great excuse to look at books and videos in our library collections that focus on environmentalism and land-focused art.

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SAM Libraries: Book(s) of the Month Club: March

When I first heard about the blog, I was excited to have another avenue to connect our libraries with the public. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard visitors say, “Wow, I have been to the museum so many times, but never knew there was a library downstairs. It’s amazing! Look at all these books!” when they visit the McCaw Foundation Library at the Seattle Asian Art Museum for the first time. The library has been here as long as they museum has – more than seventy-seven years. I am excited to have this opportunity to showcase some of the marvelous books we have in this library.

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SAM Libraries: Book(s) of the Month Club: February

Black History Month
This month’s Book(s) of the Month Club entry highlights some of the more recent library acquisitions related to African American art production and African Americans as the subject in art. February is Black History Month and I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to highlight some our great resources in these areas.

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SAM Libraries: Book(s) of the Month Club

When I was first asked to write something for this blog, I immediately thought about our incredible library collections and my desire to highlight at least some of the interesting resources we have.

The “book of the month” idea also came to mind. Dependent upon your age and where you grew up, you might have been a subscriber to the Book of the Month Club ©, a book-by-mail service begun in 1926. My mother, an elementary school teacher, signed me up for the Children’s Book of the Month Club ™ as soon as I could read. I’d like to take a page from the BOMC’s playbook and feature a book or books from our library collections each month on this blog. We don’t have mail-order services, but our libraries are all open to the public for reference use. Our hours and other information are available here.

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