Suzanne Rackover (Library Director at Emily Carr University) and Heather Slania (Library Director at the Maryland Institute College of Art) created this form of the Artist Book Terms project in 2020 for the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA).

History of the Visual Guide to Artist Book Terms

In 2012, at the ARLIS/NA Annual Conference in Toronto, the Book Arts SIG meeting had a spirited dialogue about the need for a vocabulary for indexing artists’ books and their features, ultimately leading to the enhanced discovery of artists’ books. After that conference, a Book Arts SIG working group began working on what would be known as the Artists’ Books Thesaurus (ABT).

The ABT working group diligently gathered, refined, and defined terms over a few years to create a comprehensive thesaurus specifically for use in cataloging and scholarship of artists’ books. Progress updates and calls for feedback were given at the 2013 and 2014 ARLIS/NA conferences. In 2019, the work was brought to the ARLIS/NA Cataloguing Advisory Committee, who came to the conclusion that while the work was valuable, smaller vocabularies are no longer viable in a future of linked open data. Their recommendation was that the remaining group members contribute terms to Getty’s AAT in addition to creating a stand-alone resource that visually guides users to terminology across vocabularies.

This stand-alone resource is the one you are looking at today!

Original Artists’ Books Thesaurus Working Group:

  • Heather Slania
  • Suzanne Rackover
  • Allison Jai O’Dell
  • Esther Marie Jackson
  • Jaye Fishel


  • Josh Hockensmith
  • Amy Dawn Wickner
  • Roberta Brody

Our website address is http://artistbookterms.arlisna.org.