Barber Fine Art Library


Barber Fine Art Library
Barber Institute of Fine Arts  
University of Birmingham  
B15 2TT

The Barber Fine Art Library is located on the ground floor of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Find out about our opening hours.

Tel: 0121 414 7334 
Fax: 0121 414 5853



About the library

The library is a specialist research level collection of over 50,000 books, exhibition catalogues and sale catalogues on Western art covering most of the major European schools of painting from the early Renaissance to twenty-first  century, the history of collecting, and also some Byzantine art.

Although many items are available for loan, the majority of items in the Barber Fine Art Library are for reference use only. Books on African art, Ancient art, oriental art, and on the decorative arts are located in the Main Library and the Orchard Learning Resource Centre. 


The Barber Institute and its interiors have grade II listed status and has undergone very few alterations except for the provision of up to date IT facilities. The tables and chairs were designed by Gordon Russell. The Main Reading Room functions as a dedicated quiet study space. 

Large Reading Room

Books in this room are for reference use in the library only. Please note some older reference books are still listed only in the Barber Fine Art Library Card catalogue which is to be found in this room. Please keep this room a place of quiet study.

Small Reading Room 

Books in this room are available for loan and are mainly for student courses. You will also find some art exhibition catalogues, and previous years' dissertations from the History of Art Department.

Photocopying and printing  

There is a colour and black and white photocopier in the Small Reading Room. There is one black and white printer connected to the networked PC. All printers and copiers operate via the charged printing system. Please ask library staff to credit your account at the desk.
Find out about photocopying and printing.


The library has two PCs. One is dedicated to the library catalogue and the other is a networked PC which requires your ADF details to log in.


The networked PC is connected to a scanner and is equipped with scanning software.


The collection includes: 

  • Books and catalogues raisonnées, guide books and pamphlets 
  • Exhibition catalogues, dating back to the eighteenth century 
  • Catalogues of permanent collections from galleries around the world 
  • A major collection of early rare Sales catalogues from major auction houses dating back to the late seventeenth century 
  • Current subscriptions to Sothebys and Christies sales catalogues 
  • Over 350 books published before 1850 on architecture, art topography, biography of artists and the history of collecting
  • Over 150 periodicals titles, of which approx.100 are current 
  • A small collection of videos 
  • Networked and stand alone electronic resources 
  • A substantial proportion of items are in the original language of publication, mainly in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish. 

Please note: Pressure on space dictates that a large proportion of material is housed in closed access stacks. Material from the stacks has to be collected by library staff. It may not always be possible to obtain these items immediately. Visitors coming some distance are advised to contact the library in advance to check availability of material.

Disability support

General facilities and access

All libraries and resource centres offer the following services: 

  • Book fetching 
  • Extended loans 
  • Help with catalogue 
  • Stock transfer 
  • Text Relay

Please note: These services are available in the Barber Fine Art Library from 09.00-17.00, Monday to Friday, but there is no book fetching from 12.00-14.00

Specific facilities and access in this library

  • Accessible toilets 
  • Parking for people with disabilities 
  • Quiet / Silent Study area 
  • Wheelchair Access (limited)

Specialist equipment

This site has the following equipment available:

  • Bar Magnifier 
  • Coloured overlays 
  • Magnifying glass 
  • Magnifying sheet

Additional information

Filming requests

If you wish to enquire about filming or photography in the Fine Art Library, please contact Jean Scott, Site Libraries Manager (

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