Access to all resources of the ICOM documentation centre
The result of the work of several generations of documentalists since 1948, but for a long time reserved for them alone, the Library database is now directly consultable by everyone, in its entirety, in the three official languages of ICOM.
It contains, first of all, all the publications of ICOM and its network of international committees, national committees, regional alliances and associated bodies since their creation, but also a large number of references to books, reviews, articles, guides and manuals, directories, conference proceedings, studies and reports in the fields of interest to ICOM, such as the protection of endangered heritage, the fight against illicit trafficking in cultural property, the social role of museums, education and ethics.
A short history of the ICOM ONLINE library
1948: Yvonne Oddon creates the UNESCO-ICOM Museum Documentation Centre
1981: The first ICOM computerized bibliographic database is created. Shared with ICOMOS until 1999, it is hosted by UNESCO. In 1989, the 27,400 cardboard cards that made up the previous manual bibliographic catalogue were converted into electronic records and integrated into the database.
1994-1995: ICOM entrusts a large part of its collection of books and journals on museology and its collection of museum and exhibition catalogues to the Direction des Musées de France and the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris.
In the current Online Library, the records for the documents concerned are marked Location: DMF (ICOM deposit) or Location: ENSBA – ICOM deposit.
Documents entrusted to the DMF are also referenced in the Capadoce database, which can be consulted via the Collections Engine of the Museums of France
2010: the redesign of the ICOM website is the occasion for the creation, under the heading Resources, of a Publications Database which allows the consultation of bibliographic records of a selection of books, journals, articles and various documents published by ICOM and its network. The two databases are not interconnected.
2021: A new documentary platform is created to allow online access to all ICOM’s documentary resources: ICOM and network publications, library collections, and archives. >
The “Archives” and “Images” databases, dedicated to written and multimedia
archives (photographs, posters and videos) are reserved for members and can be consulted via the members’ area.
Some tips for research
The language of the portal is the one you have chosen for your browser if you are English, French or Spanish speaking, and English by default for the others. You will not find a button to navigate from one language to another, but it is possible to change this criterion through the browser settings.
Two types of search are possible:
Free search: each page of the portal has a line at the top that allows you to search all the fields of the database at once with your own words. If the search is for several words at the same time, the records containing all the words requested will be returned (Boolean operator AND).
Advanced search: more precise, it offers a wide choice of criteria that can be crossed: titles, authors, keywords, year of publication, type and nature of document, language of the text or summary…
Several tools are available to optimize the search and preserve the results
Lexicons: each field in the advanced search has an icon to access the corresponding lexicon
If you choose to enter a word directly, in a free search or without using the lexicon proposed in the lines of the advanced search fields, it is possible to use the truncation * at the beginning and/or end of this word to widen the search.
For example: in the title field, the word “concept” gives 53 results. The word concept* gives 137 results, because it includes concepts, conception, conceptor…
Basket: Each record can be saved in a basket to create a selective bibliography from the results obtained.
Sorting: The list of results can be sorted by-
date of entry of the record in the database (from the most recent to the oldest)
– date of publication of the document (from the most recent to the oldest)
– collective author (organization, institution or museum author of the text)
– type of document (book or monograph, book chapter, periodical, periodical article, document, website)
Filtering: To refine the results of a search, filtering – reversible – can be applied to reduce the list, according to 5 criteria:
– by keyword –
by country or geographical area –
by type of
– by document location: source document available for consultation at ICOM, digital version available online, deposit at DMF or ENSBA
∆ Warning. In cases where a search with a slightly too broad scope produces a number of results greater than 1000 references, the page will display “1000 results for your selection” regardless of the actual number of records meeting the search criteria. A more precise search, by crossing at least 2 criteria for example, is then recommended.