Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
“As a publisher, when you run out of copies of a book you can basically either reprint it and keep selling it, or you can retire the title, declaring it out of print,” said Greg Albers, Digital Publications Manager for Getty Publications, in an email interview with Hyperallergic. “If it doesn’t make financial sense to reprint and the book goes out of print, the original author or another publisher may choose to pick up the reins and publish a new edition, but more often than not, the book will just sort of disappear. This isn’t a fate anyone wants to see for their books and luckily at the Getty, a decidedly mission-driven organization, we were able to pursue an alternate option. We worked though some legal/copyright issues and released PDFs of the original books, for anyone to read and download, 100% for free.”
At its inception, the library offered just over 250 books — some of which, Albers is quick to mention, are still available for purchase through the Getty store and other retailers. It has since grown to 311 titles.
“That 311 represents a significant chunk of our list,” said Albers, “more than a quarter of the books we’ve ever published. And we’re going to continue adding titles moving forward.”
The virtual catalog includes books across the scope of the Getty’s interests, roughly divided into titles relating to the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Research Institute. Some publications focus on specific artists, others on decorative arts or historical periods, and others on topics as diffuse as Roman gardens, the far Eastern lacquerware tradition of urushi, and the effects of light on materials in collections. Most of the books are in English, but the library also contains some translated volumes in Spanish, French, Japanese, and a few other languages. Albers reported that since the 2014 launch, the Virtual Library has had 398,058 unique downloads of its PDFs.
“Digital or not, that’s a lot of books out in the world!” said Albers. “And I can only presume, in a lot of hands, and in a lot of places around the world that may not have had access to them otherwise.”
Albers characterizes the Virtual Library as not only a way of sharing older books in the collection, but building a model for future work in digital publishing, that releases books in multiple formats for free from the beginning, under Creative Commons licenses. The first of these offerings are already available online, with two more to come in the next few months, and “many more in the pipeline.”
The Getty is not the only institution with an eye on virtual publishing of their catalog. Albers calls out the Met as the first to make this move, now offering 576 books for free download, and the Guggenheim has some 200 books hosted on the Internet Archive. While die-hard bibliophiles know there’s nothing like the real thing, lovers of information and environmental conservation can appreciate the tremendous wealth being offered by these institutions and others.
Poussin and the Dance is a valiant attempt to break into Poussin’s staunchly academic oeuvre and provide a relatable point of entry, highlighting the exciting elements of revelry and movement despite impenetrable and unemotional rendering.
Anarchist illustrator N.O. Bonzo produces decentralized media in a highly bureaucratic cultural landscape. Their illustrations, murals, and literature emerge in unexpected places, from the streets of Portland, Oregon, to the far ends of Reddit and Twitter, addressing relations of labor and identity in the workplace and on the streets. Growth and care are central themes…
This exhibition explores how images of the human body were used to provoke profound physical and emotional responses in viewers from the 15th through 18th centuries.
With scavenged materials, Amanda Maciel Antunes constructs a motherland.
Where are the directors taking the stage to acknowledge workers’ demands today?
The collaborative handmade paper- and printmaking center at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts publishes new works by Liz Collins and Sarah McEneaney.
There is a debate whether the memory of Little Syria should be seized upon to tell truthful and positive stories about Arabs in the US, or whether any conflation between its history and contemporary politics is inappropriate.
The profile includes works by Egon Schiele, Amedeo Modigliani, Peter Paul Rubens, and a prehistoric Venus of Willendorf figurine.
These horrifying dolls definitely won’t murder you in your sleep.