National Art Library Online Catalogue, New Feature: Course Reserves

National Art Library
June 1, 2018

The National Art Library (NAL) has recently moved to a new online library catalogue and this series of blog posts will highlight the new features that have been introduced to support research and discovery.

This blog post focuses on Course Reserves, our new online reading list feature that has allowed library staff to select and bring together recommended resources. The reading lists in Course Reserves provide direct links to catalogue records so that you can check availability, view bibliographic information and request items for consultation in the NAL reading rooms. Each list displays in alphabetical order (A-Z).

We are using Course Reserves in varied ways to enrich access to Library collections. Our E-Resources and Subject Guides can help you find a wealth of information on a range of art and design subjects. Our V&A Display reading lists encourage anyone who has felt inspired by the Museum’s displays to develop a wider understanding of a topic, object or idea. We have also worked together with the V&A Learning Academy to provide access to course reading lists for students and non-students alike.

More detail on each of these four types of Course Reserves below:


The NAL subscribes to many resources to support research and these are available to access on Museum computers or through personal devices connected to the ‘NAL’ Wi-Fi when you are in the reading rooms. Content from some of our e-resources will automatically appear in your library catalogue search results. However, not all e-resources are included and these will need to be searched individually. We have created an alphabetical list of our e-resources in Course Reserves and included a brief note on the type of content each e-resource provides (for example: JSTOR provides access to full-text journal articles).

View Subscription Databases (available onsite only)

Alternatively, you can find our E-Resources list by clicking on the ‘Library Links’ drop-down menu in the catalogue and selecting ‘E-Resources’.

We understand that our catalogue is accessed across the UK and beyond. Due to licencing restrictions, we are unable to provide access to subscription databases outside of the reading rooms. However, we have created a list of recommended freely available web resources relating to art and design. We update this list regularly as resources are increasingly made available:

View Open Access E-Resources

2. Subject Guides

Our Subject Guides bring together recommended resources for finding information on a range of topics, including art auction sales, artist biographies, History of the V&A Museum, V&A Official Reports and many more.

Explore our Subject Guides

You can also access our Subject Guides through the link under ‘Services’ on the National Art Library webpage.  

3. V&A Learning Academy

Compiled by expert tutors, these reading lists aim to support students on the diverse range of courses taught at the V&A. We hold many of the recommended titles, however if not available in the NAL we’ve included links to holdings at other libraries too.

All reading lists have the prefix ‘V&A Learning Academy:’ and can be found on the Course Reserves homepage by scrolling down the page or by using the search tool. V&A Learning Academy students are sent direct links to their reading list by the course administrator.

4. V&A Displays

Our displays aim to inspire and intrigue and these associated lists will help readers to develop a wider understanding of a subject by highlighting related resources. Our use of Course Reserves for this purpose is currently under development and our first reading list has recently been activated; ‘V&A Displays: Maqdala 1868’ contains a selection of material exploring Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage.

All reading lists will have the prefix ‘V&A Display:’ and can be found on the Course Reserves homepage by scrolling down the page or by using the search tool.

Browse or Search all Course Reserves by clicking the link on the library catalogue homepage:

Every Course Reserve reading list has its own static web address (find in address bar), allowing you to share and/or embed it online.


We hope you found this post useful and we will be posting more ‘new feature’ insights via this blog over the next couple of months. If you have any feedback to share concerning the design of the new library catalogue, please use the ‘Feedback’ link found at the bottom of each library catalogue webpage.

If you have a direct question for the National Art Library, please contact us directly, here.

Other blog posts in this series:

Tracking your item requests


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