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  General Information and mission – Virtual Catalogue for Art History (, formerly the VKK, is an international  specialized meta catalogue allowing the integrated retrieval of bibliographic records and, should the occasion arise, other objects of distinctive art historical databases.
Currently, gives access to ca. 13 million records (as of September 2012, not counting the targets Google Books and HathiTrust), including a high percentage of records for articles in periodicals, conference papers, festschriften, exhibition catalogues and exhibition books, etc., and an increasing percentage of records for archival and photographic materials as well as for online resources. is a meta search interface based on the technology of the well known KVK (Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog) which conducts a simultaneous search in a number of web catalogues. As does not have its own database, it depends on the availability of target systems. produces standardized short-title hit lists. To view the full information for a selected title requires following the link to the respective target catalogue, with the possibility of deriving further benefit from that system's complete features, for example, additional retrieval options, interlibrary loan, or document delivery.

This meta catalogue was launched in 1999 as VKK (“Virtueller Katalog Kunstgeschichte”) with funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) within its art libraries programme. Since then, it has been expanding, first on a national, now on a international scale, with the aim of reaching a high degree of thematic completeness and coverage of all publication types. The interface has been relaunched in March 2007 and the name changed to Target systems may be research institutes, educational institutions, museums and exhibition centres, pertinent holdings of general research libraries, as well as specialized union catalogues, online bibliographies, and other relevant web databases. In order to obtain a truly European-wide co-operation serving the international art historical community, the circle of participants will be extended especially to institutions in Great Britain and Scandinavia, in other Southern European countries, and in the Eastern European countries that have joined the European Union.

One very important structural principle of is the complementary character of the holdings traced in the individual databases. In addition to striving for comprehensiveness in the coverage of subject areas and formats, the future development will also be guided by the aims of improving direct access to online resources and of multiplying and networking document delivery services. As a bibliographic and documentary tool, is thus intended to satisfy the needs even of highly specialized art historical research.

The participating institutions acknowledge the principle of Open Access to scholarly information. They feel that should also be used to further this principle.
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  Organizational principles and information for future participants

Under the common responsibility of the participating institutions acting as partners, – Virtual Catalogue for Art History is being continuously developed, not only with regard to new target systems. It is equally important to improve the quantity and the quality of the information provided by the participants, as well as to evaluate and enhance the effectiveness of the retrieval software of both the meta catalogue and its targets. Therefore, is also to be understood as a platform for connecting important international partners on a truly operative level.

The specific usefulness and value of depends particularly on the degree of completeness, specialization, and subject indexing of the records found in the target systems and on the extent to which their individual holdings complement one another. All art historical fields, including the most recent ones, should be taken into account and be represented very well. Archaeological holdings are, however, largely beyond the scope. Articles and review articles, sales catalogues, 'grey literature', non-print materials and online resources are to be comprised as broadly as possible. Some specialized targets already provide entries for photos, videos, archival materials or newspaper clippings. With the participation of the libraries of the French national museums, 'world art history' has been introduced into Other targets, such as the Florentine IRIS consortium, are contributing interesting interdisciplinary elements. – Virtual Catalogue for Art History is a gateway to the participating institutions' web catalogues. It in no way replaces these websites, with their genuine individual features and services. On the contrary, it renders them more visible and efficient within a federation of cooperating partners.

Regular meetings of the general assembly of the partners and additional meetings of its international committee sustain the fulfilment of the aims described above within the general context of art historical web resources. All decisions concerning software, web design, retrieval options (insofar as these are not covered by the general development of the KVK), additional common services, and especially the integration of new target systems are taken jointly by the participants. In order to consolidate the general and particularly the financial organization of as well as its long-term development, the creation of an association based on local law remains an option for the future. For the time being, the organization's common administration and development is carried out in an un-bureaucratic manner in trustful partnership.

If necessary, in case the partners do not come to an agreement otherwise, votes will be taken at the general meetings or by e-mail. Decisions by vote require a two-thirds majority (one vote per target system). Only the admission of a new target system always requires a vote. Qualified requests for participation should be made in writing and should preferably be addressed to one of the members of the committee. Such requests will be discussed with reference to the characteristics and aims of as described above. The committee members, volunteers appointed by the assembly, are prepared to serve as contact persons and, together with the technical supervisor, to deal with retrieval problems and with other issues regarding the multilingual website. In addition, these colleagues are available for public relations and for bringing development concepts to fruition.
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  Technical administration and charges for participation 

Insofar as is based on the technology of the "Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog (KVK)", it is hosted by and administered in collaboration with the University Library of Karlsruhe, Germany. For each additional target system, the University Library of Karlsruhe must provide an appropriate structural CGI description. Currently, the cost for integrating a new target is ca. EUR 3.000, or half this sum if an existing CGI script can be reused. Subsequently, there is an annual charge for hosting and maintenance by the University Library of Karlsruhe. This charge is recalculated annually depending on the number of targets, and amounts to less than ten percent of the full initial fee. One of the partners, at present the Zentralinstitut fuer Kunstgeschichte, acts as collection agency for the annual charge and once a year sends the total amount to the University of Karlsruhe.

Relaunch and webdesign:, 2007

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Interested institutions are invited to contact one of the members of the international committee:
Véronique Goncerut Estèbe, Bibliothèque d'art et d'archéologie des Musées d'art et d'histoire de la Ville de Genève, E-mail:
Wendy Fish, British Architectural Library, Royal Institute of British Architects, London, E-mail:
Rüdiger Hoyer, Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, München, E-mail: 
Deborah Kempe, Frick Art Reference Library, New York, E-mail:
Geert-Jan Koot, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, E-mail: 
Paulo Leitao, Biblioteca de Arte, Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, Lissabon, E-mail:
Michael Rocke, Biblioteca Berenson, Villa I Tatti, Firenze, E-mail:
Kathleen Salomon, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, E-mail: 
Jan Simane, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz (Max-Planck-Institut), E-mail:

Technical supervisor:
Uwe Dierolf, Universitätsbibliothek Karlsruhe, E-mail:
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 Selected further readings

Goncerut Estèbe, Véronique: De à Art Discovery Group Catalogue ou l'évolution de métacatalogues pour l'histoire de l'art et d'un réseau des bibliothèques d'art dans le monde. - In: Revue électronique suisse de science de l'information (RESSI) n° 15 décembre 2014. - Online:

Fabian, Carole Ann / Salomon, Kathleen: Future of Art Bibliography Initiative : Charting a New Future. - In: Art Documentation 31.2012, 2, pp. 176-185.

Hoyer, Rüdiger:, WorldCat and common initiatives for the future of art bibliography. [Paper presented at the IFLA Art Libraries Section Open Session at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2012 in Helsinki] -
[earlier version online at:, with French translation]

idem: Meta catalogues and search engines : and the state of the art. - In: Art Libraries Journal 36.2011, 3 (Special issue: the future of art bibliography), pp. 19-24.

Uwe Dierolf: [sic!] : Bericht über die 4. vom 28. bis 30.Oktober in Lissabon. - In: BIT online 13.2010, 4, pp. 409-410.

Hoyer, Rüdiger: The realities of subject indexing in art libraries. [Paper presented at  the IFLA Art Libraries Section Open Session at  the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2010 in Gothenburg] -

Hoyer, Rüdiger / Simane, Jan: and : new developments and co-operations. - In: International Cataloguing and Bibliographic Control 38,3 (July/September 2009), pp. 53-56.

Hoyer, Rüdiger: International art libraries networking : new target systems for the Virtual Catalogue for Art History. – In: IFLA Art Libraries Section Newsletter n° 59 (2006), pp. 7-8. – online:

Purpus, Elke: Virtueller Katalog Kunstgeschichte: erstes Treffen der Bibliotheken und Verbünde. - In: AKMB-news 10(2004), 3, p. 54-55.

Hoyer, Rüdiger: The "Virtuelle [sic!] Katalog Kunstgeschichte" (VKK). - In: AKMB news 9.2003, 2, pp. 15-16.

idem: The Virtueller Katalog Kunstgeschichte as a tool for international co-operation. - In: Art Libraries Journal 28.2003,1, pp. 15-18.

Effinger, Maria / Hoyer, Rüdiger: Der Virtuelle Katalog Kunstgeschichte (VKK). - In: Bibliotheksdienst 53.1999, 10, pp. 1660-1666.

Realisation Relaunch, Webdesign:, 2010