This post originally appeared on the LAIP in 2012. We’ve updated the information below with current links. Enjoy learning about this terrific resource! 

One of our goals at the Library as Incubator Project is to showcase resources and programs that can benefit libraries of all kinds– even those with zero budgets– and create opportunities for librarians to share art with patrons.

Given the alarming trend of gutted arts budgets and curricula in communities and schools across the nation, this goal has become even more important, so I was delighted to discover Art Resource Transfer.  Art Resource Transfer runs A.R.T. Press, which publishes conversations with artists about their work, influences, and craft.

Even more exciting, the organization also manages the Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program, which distributes new, contemporary art titles to public libraries and schools free of charge.  The program has garnered the support of a long list of fine art publishers (view the catalog) who share the idea that everyone should have access to information about contemporary art, as well as landmark artists like the painter Chuck Close, who is featured in this inspiring introduction to the program:

Watch a video about the DUC Library Program

It’s been just an extraordinary relationship for us…we didn’t have to submit a lengthy application and justify ourselves.  The staff understood our mission immediately; they understood what we were trying to create, and literally within days, we had a roster of books, and we had books arriving here to fill the shelves.  ~Nina Massen, Phoenix House

Public schools, libraries, and community centers the United States that are located in rural or inner-city communities (view a current distribution map here) are eligible to receive free materials from the DUC.  All you have to do to enroll in the program is choose from a list of available titles and create a login to complete your order.  The DUC will mail the titles to your library, and the only stipulation they make is that all of them must be cataloged and made available to all patrons.  Once you enroll, your library will receive a new-inventory announcement every year. (Visit the program’s About page to get started).

If you are a librarian who has partnered with Art Resource Transfer, I’d love to hear from you! How has your collection grown? What kind of programming do you create using the contemporary art titles you receive through the partnership?  What has been the response from your patrons?

Feel free to drop me a line at or to share your story in the comments!


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