OCAD University Dorothy H. Hoover Library

Ask a Librarian

Find what you need in our searchable FAQ.

Do I have to be an OCAD U student to use the library?

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The Dorothy H. Hoover Library is opened to the general public during regular operating hours and any print materials in the collection can be used on site during operating hours. Note that access to any internet-based electronic resources, databases, or online image collections is limited to current OCAD U students, staff, and faculty only.

If, however, you do want to sign out books as a visiting researcher, the following procedures apply:

  • Direct Borrowing for undergraduate students is available only to Ryerson and York Universities members; with a valid student ID card, these student can sign out up to 9 circulating books.
  • Direct Borrowing for graduate students, faculty members, and staff from all participating Canadian universities is available. 
  • Special Membership is available for the general public and visiting researchers for a cost of  $50 for a 6 month membership or $100 for 1 year.
  • OCAD U Alumni with proof of graduate status can apply for Special Membership at a discounted price of $25 for 6 months or $50 for 1 year.

OCAD U Library does not have the book I need.

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You have various options:

  • Search both Ebooks and Print Books using Summon: if you have only used the library catalogue to search for titles, double-check our ebooks using Summon "More Search Options" then limit the "Content Type" to show only "Books / eBooks."
  • Inter-Library Loans: request the book through RACER/VDX; this allows you to search for books from university libraries across Canada or from selected International collections.
  • Direct Borrowing: with a valid OCAD U ID card, you can sign out circulating books from any other university library in Canada, except at University of Toronto libraries.  See: "Borrowing Library Materials: Using Other Libraries."
  • Worldcat.org: A quick way to search many GTA academic libraries, as well as the Toronto Public Library system, is to use worldcat.org.  This search portal is the "world's largest network of library content and services" and allows you to search for books by title, subject or author. When you find a book, click on the title to view the record, the scroll down and add your postal code. Worldcat will show you the closest library that has a coy of the book.
  • Don't forget Internet ArchiveWith millions of open access (OA) books, audio files, videos, software, the "wayback machine" and more, Internet Archive is a significant research tool. Most of the over 2 million books are in the public domain--so published 75 years ago from the current date--; however, more and more current OA books, monographs, anthologies are being uploaded. It works especially well for OCAD U print reference books which cannot be signed out over night by undergraduate students. Always check Internet Archive, as OCAD U has  digitized over 300 books for this portal.


What is JSTOR?

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JSTOR is a journal database that provides access to hundreds of academic journals from all subject areas. There are over 200 art journals and also has excellent coverage of design research. It is the most popular database in the library's collection and generally presents half of all the journal articles accessed here at OCAD U.  Is it the best source to use for peer-reviewed journals?


  • No peer-review limits: in general, the titles in JSTOR are scholarly; however it does not offer a specific "peer-review" limit like other databases such as Academic Search Premier; Business Source Complete; or Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA); so chances are you will find "peer-reviewed" articles, but it's not guaranteed.  You can always look for the publication information from the ejournal page, using the "Browse Journals" feature.
  • No current articles: JSTOR is an archival collection so offers access to articles from every issue of journals from the first volume number to approximately 5 - 10 years from the current date. So for current, cutting-edge research in art and design, it is not an ideal source for articles.
  • No Canadian art & design journals: you can certainly find information on Canadian artists and designers, but there are no Canadian arts periodicals in the collection.
  • Everyone uses JSTOR!: because the collection is so popular, there is the danger of missing out on journal titles that are more specialized to contemporary art practice.  Ejournal collections such as ACM Digital Library ; SAGE Journals ; Taylor & Francis Journals offer unique cutting-edge research that is not accessible through JSTOR
  • Why not use Summon instead? Summon searches through all our journal databases, including JSTOR, so you will be accessing much more comprehensive and current articles.


  • Excellent coverage of art history: JSTOR is ideal for searching obscure artists or artisans from all historic time periods.
  • Excellent source for interdisciplinary research: because there are hundreds of journal titles from the sciences, humanities, social sciences, JSTOR is an ideal tool to search for information on visual and material culture.
  • Ideal for accessing primary documents:as an archival database, you can search for exhibition reviews or academic essays published when an artist was alive. For example, by using the publication date limits you could see how Frida Kahlo's art was reviewed in the 1940s, or even when the first time Vincent Van Gogh was mentioned in an academic art journal!

What is the BEST database for Canadian art, artists, or designers?

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Although Canadian art is covered in many sources, the best starting point for academic essays, exhibition reviews, interviews with contemporary artists is Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA) . Although the database does not sound like an art-based research collection, it includes seminal publications including Canadian Art, Canadian Architect, C Magazine, Border Crossings and others. As well, major Canadian periodicals that publish exhibition reviews are included, notably the Globe and Mail, the Walrus, or Toronto Life

In second and third place are the databases Canadian Periodicals Index Quarterly (CPI.Q) and Art Source respectively.

What are citations?

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Citations are an important part of academic writing; they help us track the history of an idea from its first iteration through to the present. By not using citations when borrowing ideas, concepts, images, or direct quotations from others, you are in danger of plagiarism or academic misconduct charges. View our OCAD U Library Citing Sources guide. 

There are three major citation styles:

  • Chicago (16th edition) usually used for art history research
  • MLA (8th edition) often for languages and literature research
  • APA (6th edition) primarily used in design or the social sciences

Citations use two basic elements: the cited reference in the body of your paper and the bibliographic entry at the end of the paper. Each style has a unique format:

  • Chicago (16th edition) uses footnotes or endnotes AND a Bibliography
  • MLA (8th edition) uses in-text citations AND a Works Cited list
  • APA (6th edition) uses in-text citations AND a Reference List

Verify with your instructor to see which style you are to use, the links above will offer guides from the Online Writing Lab from Purdue University which are useful for most questions on citations.

How do I find an image of a specific artwork?

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This actually can be a challenging request. In general our OCAD U Library Image Databases will offer effective coverage of art and design from all time periods and all cultures of  the world, but these resource do not cover EVERY artwork ever created!

One of the foremost collections is ARTstor Digital Library which offers sample images from all historical eras, so you may want to select artworks for use in academic research based on what is available through this collection. The OCAD U image collection is searchable in this database. Note that it offers full catalogue records for each images (creator, date of creation, medium, dimensions, image rights information), so it offers all the information needed for full image citations. It also features impressive zoom-in capabilities for a fine detailed view of artworks.

Other options include:

  • using the "Art Reproduction" limit in Art Source this will allow you to search artworks published in art journals, although you will have to search our Journals A - Z to find if OCAD U has print copy of the journal.
  • try using Summon Search for the title of an art work in quotation marks. Summon uses Google Books metadata to keyword search the full text of books, then will show you results from our OCAD U Library's print collection. In this way, it is more powerful for searching the entire text of a book than our Library Catalogue.
  • realizing that you can create your own digital images using our extensive art and design books! If you find a catalogue raisonné on an artist, then it will include every work produced by him/her/they. The library offers scanning on the premises, or just use your cellphone to take pictures!
  • don't forget that Google Images offers a drag and drop image search, or you can cut and past an image's URL to find citation information. Don't just rely on the keyword image search, which rarely provides accurate citation information and generally seems to only retrieve results from Pinterest! Use the "Search by Image" camera icon to find digital reproductions from art galleries or other academic sources.

What are peer-reviewed journals?

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Peer-review is similar to art critiques (crits) used in studio-based learning.  Before any work of art or design is completed, it is evaluated by one’s peers in the studio.  Similarly, before an article is published, it must be read and approved by a board of scholars who decide whether it is should be included in a scholarly journal or whether changes are needed before it is published. There are two basic ways to search for peer-reviewed articles:

  1. select "More Search Options" from Summon Search, then select "Show only -- Peer reviewed publications"

  2. choose a Journal Article database, then read through the description of each to identify whether:

For more information, see the Finding Articles Guide

Can I book a study room at the OCAD U Library?

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We use a "first come, first serve" policy for our four group study rooms. So there's no need to book ahead, just come to the library and feel free to use one our rooms. Note that we offer a whiteboard and a projector in one of our rooms; whiteboard markers, VGA cables, or dongles can be signed out at the circulation desk.

In Summon, I found a "Full Text Online" link that does not work.

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Summon is a portal that searches almost 200 different databases, catalogues, and other web resources; each with a different configuration and metadata standards. Given this volume of information, sometimes links to external resources are temporarily broken.

But trust that Summon is correct; the article, ebook, or streamed video that is indicated as being available in a database collection usually is accessible. You just need to do a little extra work to get it! If you see an error message after clicking a "Full Text Online" link from Summon:

  • try staying in the external database, then look for the "Search" button, or try clicking on the logo for the database (for ex.: GALE Academic OneFile, EBSCOhost Art & Architecture source, etc.)
  • from the Summon results list, try cutting and pasting the title of the article, video, or image into the external database search box; note that for exact phrases you can use quotation marks to search for the exact title of the article you are looking for.

Usually this will then lead you to the article. Note that if you are looking for a full text journal article, you can also try:

  • type the NAME of the journal in Journals A - Z  (do not type the title of the article, but the journal's name, such as Artforum, Canadian Art, IAQ, etc.)
  • click the TITLE of the database that includes the journal title.
  • on the database ejournal page, either BROWSE for the article using volume, issue, page numbers OR oftentimes you can keyword SEARCH words from the article TITLE within the ejournal.

How do I start my research when writing a research essay?

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Research is a unique process, but you may want to review some of the material from the Getting Started guide to see the basics of academic research.

In general, it is best to FIRST start with comprehensive information sources. You are likely doing this already, as most people start researching topics with either a Google search and/or Wikipedia to find background information, key ideas and theorists, citations to articles, related terms, etc. However, we strongly encourage OCAD U researchers to begin with:

  • academic encyclopedias to ground your research in an academic context;
  • one of the best sources is Credo Reference , a portal that search over 750 academic encyclopedias, guides, handbooks at once!

Use broad search terms to start; for example if you are research an object from another time period or culture of the world, then these eras and/or country names will be your first search terms. If you are researching an nautilus shell cup from sixteenth century Germany, then the entry on Germany from Grove Dictionary in Oxford Art Online will help you evaluate the object through a material culture perspective. 


What information do I find from a Summon Search? 

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Summon is a powerful portal that allows you to search almost all our databases as well as our print library collections. It is the default search box accessible from the OCAD U Library homepage. By adding a search term, you could potentially find books, ebooks, exhibition catalogues, journal articles, images, streamed videos, and more. See the search guides for Finding Books or Finding Articles for more assistance.

Summon works best when you begin limiting search results by:

  • Content Type (books, journal articles, images, etc.)
  • Publication Date
  • Discipline

Note that:

  • all citations that indicate "Full Text Online" will allow you access the article or book from one of our various databases.
  • if you see "Book" with a library call number (and an indication whether it is "Checked in" or "checked out," then this is a print book. You will have to come to the library in person to sign out the title.


How do I cite images?

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Citing images correctly is just as important as citing written sources in your work. The following guides provide specific guidelines for citing images from some of the most common sources.

How do I search for a specific journal article?

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If you have an exact citation for a journal article,

  • type the NAME of the journal in Journals A - Z  (do not type the title of the article, but the journal's name, such as Artforum, Canadian Art, IAQ, etc.)
  • Note that we have some journals in PRINT only, but if we have access to an ejournal version,
  • click the TITLE of the database that includes the journal title.
  • on the database ejournal page, either BROWSE for the article using volume, issue, page numbers OR oftentimes you can keyword SEARCH words from the article TITLE within the ejournal.

For example, for Canadian Art

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