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Picture File Collection

Books On and About Picture Files

Other Picture Files and Picture File Information

Picture files may not be nearly as prevalent as they one were, but that does not necessarily mean we are looking at their total demise. Many design schools still have active picture file collections and creatives of all kinds, especially fashion and set designers, still utilize picture file collections for their works.

This page provides a short bibliography of recent articles that discuss picture file collections and links to a few outstanding picture file collections still in use. Also shared on this page are a few book sources in Pratt’s catalog that are specifically about creating and maintaining picture file collections.


Articles About Picture Collections: A Brief Bibliography

Heller, Steven. (2005). "off the shelf." Print 59, no. 5: 56-63. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts.

Heller briefly discusses the history of NYPL’s picture file collection and discusses its current condition. A detailed description and review of NYPL”s digital image collections follows.

Payson, E. (1995). “The vertical file: Retain or discard?.” College & research libraries. volume 56, Issue 5, 423-432.
Payson discusses the present debate (in 1995) of whether or not academic and other libraries should keep and maintain their picture file collections.  The article evaluates survey responses from 139 different libraries to a better understanding of their picture file procedures, finding that the results varied widely.

Shatford, S. (1986) “Analyzing the Subject of a Picture: A Theoretical Approach.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly. Volume 6, Issue 3.
Article presents a theoretical framework derived from cataloging classification, philosophy of art concepts, visual perception, and previously developed principles to help evaluate, identify and classify a picture’s subjects. This framework will also help with applying existing indexing languages and devising new languages for pictorial materials.

Sturdevant, Andy. (2012,08,01). "Exploring Central Library's picture files where past and present coexist." MinnPost.
Article discusses Minneapolis Public Library's picture file collection and suggests that picture file collections still have uses. One of the more significantly interesting features of the picture file collection, Sturdevant argues are the images' categorization.  

Other Picture File Collections

New York Public Library Picture File Collection

Located at the Stephen A. Schwartzman Building, Room 100, NYPL's Picture Collection contains over one million prints, photographs, posters, postcards, and illustrations from books, magazines, and newspapers. Pictures are classified into over 12,000 subject headings. Up to 60 picures can be checked out from the library at a time with a library card. 

NYPL Digital Collections: Thousands of NYPL's images have also been digitized.