The Picture File is a massive collection of file cabinets that you do not see when you come in to the library to the 3rd floor at the present time. In the past, these cabinets were prominently available in the Art and Music Room for library visitors to look through and make selections to check out. We are still checking out the Picture Files, but now since we have a much larger collection of books to display plus computer stations, there is simply no room for all of these file cabinets in the Art and Music Room, and they have been moved to closed stacks.
The Picture Files consist of folders on many topics, collected from books that could not be repaired, periodicals that were duplicates, and a whole myriad of images from calendars and other sources.
What use are these in our time, when we can find internet sources for images with ease? Since this collection was created in the Art and Music Room, it is particularly strong for these topics; there are hundreds of folders for the arts with thousands of pictures all together. If you are in the library looking for images of artists' works, it can be more practical to take home a manila envelope of images than a series of books. If you are working on ideas for a mural, for example, and want to experiment with combining images of different subjects, these files are useful for composition ideas.
Recently I was preparing a display of materials about the composers Bartok and Beethoven for a local festival and library concert, for which I used the Picture Files. There were some images of these composers that I had seen in books and on the internet, but a few that were a complete delight since new to me. So I suggest that it can be worth taking a look at these if you have a project. Simply ask the staff at the Art and Music Reference desk for picture files on a subject. We have an index of the subjects in this collection, and from these you tell the staff which folders you would like to look at. You can select up to 50 pictures at a time to check out from a range of folders.
These three images are samples from one of the three folders of paintings and drawings by Jean-Antoine Watteau (October 10, 1684 - July 18, 1721) whose drawings of musicians are so evocative of 18th century French baroque music.
Questions? Send our reference staff an email question or call the library: 503.988.5234.