Literature lists or ‘Course Reserves’ at the National Art Library

January 30, 2023

Under the V&A logo, in the dark grey band, on the National Art Library (NAL) catalogue homepage is an unassuming looking button called ‘Course Reserves’. Something of a misnomer brought about due to the NAL sharing its library management system with thousands of academic libraries, the NAL ‘Course Reserve’ lists are accessible to all, you don’t have to be part of a specialised course.  Course Reserves are specialised lists of NAL material chosen by Library staff dedicated to certain topics, exhibitions or events.

The Library team regularly create course reserve lists to respond to current V&A exhibitions. Much of the material in these reading lists has been drawn from the bibliographies of the associated exhibition catalogues, allowing you to delve directly into the source materials that helped develop the exhibitions. 

Course Reserve – Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature closed recently but the NAL has plenty of material if you’d like to find out more about Potter and the books that informed the exhibition.

Highlights include Beatrix Potter: artist and illustrator by Anne Stevenson Hobbs (former curator of the V&A’s Beatrix Potter collection), covering a previous exhibition of Potter’s works, and multiple volumes of the journal Beatrix Potter studies which examine every possible aspect of Potter’s life, work and legacy, running from 1985 to present day.

Explore Course Reserve – Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature

Course Reserve – Hallyu! The Korean Wave

Hallyu! The Korean Wave is an exciting exhibition dedicated to the creativity of Korea and its impact on the world. Spanning music, film, fashion, beauty and much more, this exhibition covers the vast Korean cultural scene, which never loses touch with its history and heritage.

Highlights from the books that informed the exhibition include Pop city: Korean popular culture and the selling of place by Youjeong Oh, an e-book examining how Korean television and music influence the growing popularity of certain locations in South Korea, and Cultural policies in East Asia by Hye-Kyung Lee and Lorraine Lim, which examines the policies that have allowed the impact of Korean culture to grow worldwide.

Explore Course Reserve – Hallyu! The Korean Wave

Course Reserve – Africa Fashion

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Africa Fashion covers the hugely varied and vibrant fashion of the African continent and everything that inspired it. Drawing on photography, textiles and music from the mid-20th century to today, this is an extensive display of the creativity and ingenuity of the modern African fashion scene.

Highlights in the Course Reserve list include The new black vanguard: photography between art and fashion by Antwaun Sargent, which covers the new wave of young Black photographers making an impact around the world, and Fashion and postcolonial critique by Elke Gaugoule, which examines the latest debates around the crossover of fashion and postcolonial issues.

Explore Course Reserve – Africa Fashion

Our reading lists don’t just cover recent V&A exhibitions. We have a whole range on offer:


An indispensable resource for researchers, these lists collate our wide range of e-resources into easily navigable lists. E-Resources – All National Art Library Subscriptions (A-Z) comprises all the NAL’s subscription databases, such as and Oxford Art Online. Due to licensing restrictions, access to these sources is only available onsite at the NAL. There are also plenty of free resources available to everyone, wherever and whenever, within E-Resources – Recommended and Freely Available (A-Z) which have been checked and approved by Library staff.

V&A Group Visits

The NAL offers packages of tours in which groups such as students or societies can hear more about specially chosen titles which show the diversity of our collections. We change these titles periodically, but here you can see some of the titles we’ve shown in the past.

Find out more about NAL Library education group visits

Friday Lates

Once a month the museum extends its opening hours late on a Friday for a celebration open to all. Based around a certain theme, these events bring together fun activities with contemporary visual culture and design. These lists take their lead from sessions that have taken place in the NAL using items from the collections.

Find out more about V&A Friday Lates

Subject guides

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

There are many different aspects to the study of art, design and performance. These lists cover some of the most common areas of research of our users, such as the history of the V&A, auction catalogues, and researching prints and printmakers.

Drawing inspiration

The Library has run self-led workshops for artists who wish to take inspiration from our collection, giving them exclusive access to our rare materials such as illuminated manuscripts and handbooks. These lists contain the material used in such sessions.

If you’re stuck for what to read next or want to easily find related material all in one place, the Course Reserves page will help you out, and you can be sure that they are all librarian-approved.

0 comments so far, view or add yours

Add a comment

Please read our privacy policy to understand what we do with your data.


Join today and enjoy unlimited free entry to all V&A exhibitions, Members-only previews and more

Find out more


Find inspiration in our incredible range of exclusive gifts, jewellery, books, fashion, prints & posters and much more...

Find out more