Guide to Finding
the Best Resources

Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective information research in urban studies.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.




Meredith Wisner
Art & Architecture Librarian


Browse the stacks using the architecture call number range:  NA1-9428 

NA1-60                         General
NA100-130                   Architecture and the state
NA190-1555.5              History
NA1995                        Architecture as a profession 
NA2000-2320               Study and teaching.  Research
NA 2599.5-2599.9        Architectural criticism
NA2695-2793               Architectural drawing and design
NA2835-4050               Details and decoration
NA4100-8480               Special classes of buildings
NA4170-(7020)            Public buildings
NA4590-5621              Religious architecture
NA7100-7884              Domestic architecture. Houses. Dwellings
NA9000-9428              Aesthetics of cities. City planning and beautifying

Reference sources

CTBUH Tall Building Database Maintained and updated by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the database contains information on 10,000+ buildings – including height information, number of floors, function, structural material, location, professions involved, building images etc. This database is based on building data collected by the Council for more than 40 years.


Dictionary of Architecture and Construction This resource has a comprehensive range that spans terms encountered in the practice and study of architecture including design, environmental concerns, materials, regulations, services, and techniques. 


Dynamic National Archive (The Collection of Women of 20th-century Architecture) This resource made possible by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation is part of an ongoing project to catalog the names, biographies, and work of female architects and designers who have contributed to the development of the places and spaces of the United States. The Collection includes over 1,100 practitioners from all 50 states, and is growing.

Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Provided by the Library of Congress American Memory, the collections document achievements in architecture, engineering, and landscape design in the United States and its territories through a comprehensive range of building types, engineering technologies, and landscapes. Started in 1933 the HABS/HAER/HALS collections includes more than 556,900 measured drawings, large-format photographs, and written histories for more than 38,600 historic structures and sites dating from Pre-Columbian times to the twentieth century.


Oxford Reference Online  Includes A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture, The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture, and The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance.


RIBA Library Online Catalogue This catalog features books, journals, drawings, photographs, slides, manuscripts, audio-visual and other material in the British Architectural Library, and an index to approximately 300 architectural periodicals. Includes a biographical database of British architects.


SAH Archipedia Published by the Society of Architectural Historians and the University of Virginia Press , this resource is an authoritative online encyclopedia of the built world. It contains histories, photographs, and maps for more than 8,500 structures and places.


Recommended databases

ArchNet A free online database that provides ready access to visual and textual material to facilitate teaching, scholarship, and professional and promotes sharing of intellectual resources and expertise, debate, and critical thinking within the online community of international architects, planners, urban designers, landscape architects, conservationists, and scholars, with a focus on Muslim cultures and civilizations.


Art & Architecture Complete  Featuring a comprehensive bibliographic indexing, abstracts, and full text for academic journals, magazines and trade publications, this resource's coverage includes architecture and climate, energy, globalization, history, photography, religion, science, society, and urban renewal.  An image collection is also available. 


Art Full Text  Indexes, abstracts and full-text from international periodicals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins are included in this database. Areas covered are archaeology, architecture, art, film, humanities, marketing, motion pictures, and photography. It also offers full text plus abstracts and indexing of an international array of peer-selected publications.


Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals Citations to articles in worldwide architecture and related periodicals with primary emphasis on architectural design and history, but coverage as well of archaeology, landscape architecture, interior design, furniture and decorative arts, garden history, historic preservation, city planning, urban design, real estate development, and environmental studies.


Design & Applied Arts Index This periodical index covers from 1973 to Present. It contains annotated references to articles in design and craft journals, and covers both new designers and the development of design and the applied arts since the mid-19th century.


Getty Research Portal This free online search platform provides global access to digitized art history texts in the public domain. Through this multilingual, multicultural union catalog, scholars can search and download complete digital copies of publications for the study of art, architecture, material culture, and related fields.


JSTOR Full-text articles from many scholarly journals, from the first issue of each journal (including some started in the nineteenth century) up to 3 to 5 years ago.


Office for Metropolitan History Provides research on New York City buildings; typical projects involve document recovery and reports with a wide variety of purposes, for engineers, architects, lawyers and anyone interested in the evolution of New York's built environment.


Digital images


ArchitectureWeek's Great Buildings Collection. Cross-linked with Archiplanet and ArchitectureWeek, this free database has documents about buildings and architects with photographic images and architectural drawings, integrated maps and timelines, 3D building models, commentaries, bibliographies, and web links for notable designers and structures.


ARTstorProvides more than one million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences with a suite of tools for  research.


American Cities: National Archives. In this publication, there is a selection of photographs that depict New York City, the development of it, and its people and their way of life from the early 19th century to recent times. They were selected for their aesthetic quality and historical relevance to the development of urban America.


Arounder - Travel in 360-degree Quicktime. 360-degree Quicktime panoramic views of monuments in many European and some American cities.


Canadian Architecture Collection (CAC). As one of McGill University Libraries Special Collections, this resource documents the work of past and present architects who have studied and/or taught at the McGill University School of Architecture and Urban planning. Through photographs, drawings, and corollary documentation, the CAC seeks to represent the evolution of the McGill campus, the city of Montreal, and the architectural heritage of Quebec and Canada.


Cities Around the World. With over 6,000 digital images representing over 450 cities from the photographic collections of Harrison Forman and Harold Mayer housed at American Geographical Society Library, this database focuses on architecture, city life, people, transportation and other aspects of urban development, such as neighborhoods, commercial streets, and business districts.


Cities/Buildings Database. A collection of imagery of buildings and cities drawn from across time and throughout the world, available to students, researchers and educators on the web. The database can be searched by name of building, architect/builder, or country.


Great Buildings Collection  This gateway to architecture around the world and across history documents a thousand buildings and hundreds of leading architects, with 3D models, photographic images and architectural drawings, commentaries, bibliographies, web links, and more, for famous designers and structures of all kinds.


Mapping Gothic France Initiated by Stephen Murray, Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and Andrew Tallon, Assistant Professor of Art at Vassar College and funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this open source project provides new ways to understand the relationship of hundreds of buildings conventionally described as "Gothic” in France.


NYPL Digital Gallery Over 700,000 images digitized from the New York Public Library's vast collections including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, floor plans, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs.


RIBApix The world’s most extensive visual archive devoted to architecture, the British Architectural Library at the Royal Institute of British Architects world architecture covers all periods together with related subjects such as interior design, landscape, topography, planning, construction and the decorative arts.


SkyscraperPage Global Cities & Buildings Database Featuring skyscraper diagram illustrations, a world-wide buildings database, and skyscraper-themed discussion forums, this resource is for skyscraper and urbanism enthusiasts. A searchable database with images and statistics to over 80,000 high-rise buildings from around the world.


Vitruvio While written in Italian, this resource covers international topics and architects,  it has a searchable database of historical and contemporary architecture includes, pictures, drawings, and texts as well as architectural forums and resources. This can be translated into English by your browser.


Or search multiple databases simultaneously:

Find Articles



Finding Books

CLIO - Online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library.

CLIO search tips:

  • To find primary sources in CLIO, use the keywords: archives, correspondence, diaries, interviews, narratives, memoir
  • Use the truncation symbol ? to search for variants of a word stem  (example: essay? will search for essay, essays, essayists, etc.)
  • Limit your search to Barnard College Library, if you wish.

Worldcat Search for items in libraries worldwide.

BorrowDirect Borrow books directly from the libraries of Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale, in addition to select libraries of Harvard and MIT. Items requested through BorrowDirect typically deliver in 3 to 4 business days, with a 6-week loan period + one 6-week renewal.

Interlibrary Loan Borrow books, articles/book chapters, music scores, and selected audiovisual items (i.e. maps or films) that are not currently available at Columbia University Libraries. ILL has a larger scope of participating institutions than Borrow Direct.


Finding Dissertations

Digital Dissertations: Full text of American dissertations accepted at an accredited institution published since 1997. These dissertations have extremely detailed bibliographies and can be an excellent starting point for research.


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