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Visual Resources Center: Images in Books

The Vanderbilt University Visual Resources Center is located in Cohen Hall 134 and is your source for finding and properly using high-quality images resources for your papers, presentations, and projects.

Art Reproductions in Books and Catalogues

Scholarly monographs, exhibition catalogs, and catalogues raisonnes (a complete inventory of an artist's work) are widely available at the library and often include images of lesser known artworks which may not be easy to find online. If you are searching for works by a particular artist, and you know his/her name, remember to do both AUTHOR and SUBJECT searches in Vanderbilt's library catalog, Library Catalog. If the artist's name is fairly distinctive, try a simple keyword search; this will work well for distinctive names like Robert Rauschenberg.


If you are receiving hundreds of results or the results seem irrelevant, try narrowing your search. Select Advanced Search next to the search bar. Select Any in the left-hand drop-down menu and search instead by Title or Author

Scanning Recommendations

  • Set the scanning quality level to at least 300 dpi, the standard for presentation or publishing. The higher the dpi, the longer it will take to scan and the larger the file will be. 
    • Note: Many images reproduced in books are printed using a halftone process which leads to a loss of some visual information. Scanning such reproductions may not always result in a clean image, so look for a digital copy first. Using the descreen option available on most scanners may help to eliminate a visible "dot" pattern.
  • Scanning an image on a high-quality flatbed scanner results in an image that is clean and scalable without quality loss. Photographing images out of books with a personal camera (or phone) may produce sufficient images but other factors such as lighting, alignment, and focus could negatively impact the quality of the image.
  • Crop or edit your image with a professional tool such as Adobe Photoshop. Retain an unedited copy of the original scan as a backup.

VRC Services

The VRC provides the following equipment to assist you with digitizing printed images:

  • Epson flatbed scanner 
  • Mac and Windows computers available for student and faculty use
  • Adobe Creative Suite and other image editing tools