Lucy Campbell and Barbara Opar, column editors

Column by Barbara Opar (Syracuse University), Kathy Edwards (Clemson University) and Rose Orcutt (University of Buffalo)

As the library association most closely linked to serving the direct needs of faculty and students in Architecture, AASL members strive to provide appropriate resources to meet the ever changing field of architecture and design. To this end, AASL has assumed responsibility for creating a core list of periodicals aimed at first degree programs in Architecture.

The core list was first compiled in 1995. The need for such a resource was initially suggested a few years earlier by Pat Wiesenberger, then architecture librarian at Kansas State. Sharing her thoughts at an annual meeting of AASL, she proposed preparing a list of titles “without which we cannot operate.”

This principle has defined the core list through four subsequent editions. The list began with several members trying to create their own versions. Then Jeanne Brown of the University of Nevada- Las Vegas and Judy Connorton from City College compiled an extensive list of architecture periodicals and surveyed members about their holdings. Michael Leininger of MIT, Kay Logan-Peters of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Pat Weisenberger reviewed the survey data, taking into account the discussions held at the annual meeting and created the first core list. In creating the first list, the number of holdings of the title at member libraries became part of the criteria.  New versions of the list with additions and deletions as necessary were compiled in 1998, 2002 and 2009. By 1998, Progressive Architecture and Design Quarterly had ceased to exist. Detail was added. El Croquis was moved to core. With each new edition, volunteers from the larger membership reviewed titles and prepared the list, gathering input from the memberships of both AASL and ARLIS/NA (Art Libraries Society of North America). Martin Aurand of Carnegie Mellon and Margaret Culbertson of the University of Houston volunteered to update the list in 2002. This version added electronic titles and expanded the supplementary list. In compiling the 2009 version, Barbara Opar of Syracuse University again surveyed members via email. Discussions included whether or not the list should be a “stretch” or kept to key holdings most libraries held. Certain regional and foreign language titles were debated.


Throughout the process of creating each new edition, knowledge of the current state of architecture as well as survey data from members has been key. The compilers of the fifth edition- Kathy Edwards of Clemson University, Rose Orcutt of the University of Buffalo and Barbara Opar –expanded the data they gathered about each title. Barbara tallied browsing statistics of current print titles for several weeks. While faculty often chose titles like Architectural Review, students repeatedly looked at titles like Dwell and Surface, leading to a conclusion that patrons do not always chose key titles when browsing. The availability of indexing as well as format (print, electronic) was investigated. The quality of graphic documentation (e.g. plans, sections, notation of scale) and image quality was considered. The length of the articles, and notable contributors were carefully noted.  In addition to peer review, Rose and Kathy sought out impact data when available.

This version was begun after the annual meeting in 2014 with survey data gathered from faculty via ACSA News as well as input from both AASL and ARLIS members. Indeed, the survey data at one point actually became a stumbling block. Input included removing Casabella from core; while others advocated expanding the core list to include titles like Axis, Cabinet, Candide and Pidgin. Only by returning to the original concept of titles “without which we cannot operate” was the group able to finalize the list.

The working group came to realize that some librarians might be taking issue with the categories of core and supplementary. So the categories used in this version are core, recommended and topical. By topical is meant highly specialized or regionally focused. Titles to watch, also a new category, consists of titles new to the market or ones which may be evolving. Titles also may cease as in the case of Praxis, a core title.


The list which follows is meant as a guideline for faculty and students and as a working tool for collections librarians. New or small schools may only be able to add core titles, while larger institutions may even consider more topical journals or additions from outside the immediate field. Regionally important titles should become part of every collection. Hopefully this list will enable users to become more aware of the breadth of architectural periodic literature.


See the complete list at: