Acquisitions Policy

The National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL) is a unique public access resource, established in 1997, which collects, stores and provides access to information in all formats on 20th and 21st century visual culture in Ireland.  In documenting developments in Irish art and design, the Library serves the present and future needs of its users. These range from academic researchers to artists seeking a secure and accessible repository for visual and textual information on their work for interested members of the general public.


  • The active collection of documentary material in all formats, and the secure and permanent storage of that material.
  • The provision of public access to the collections.  Material in the Library can be accessed on a reference only basis.
  • The provision of assistance to users of the resource.  A specialist staff member is available to give information and advice.


In summary the Library collects:

  • Material relating to Irish art and design in its various forms, from the 20th century onwards.
  • Material relating to non-Irish artists resident in Ireland or who have lived here for a period.
  • Records of the National College of Art & Design, the parent institution.

The term “visual arts” is used in its broadest sense and encompasses all art forms from painting and sculpture to design, craft and fashion.  While there has tended to be an emphasis on the fine arts in available material, the Library is greatly concerned with the documentation of applied art and design.

The Library acquires documentation generated by or about artists, designers and others engaged in some way with art and design including collectors, writers, critics, commercial dealers and galleries, societies, artists’ groups and studios, and institutions that contribute to the visual culture of Ireland.

Documentation in all formats is acquired.  Correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, notebooks, artists’ records of their own work, administrative records of art galleries and institutions, audio-visual material, photographs, slides, press material and ephemera are all of interest.  Books, journals, and catalogues are also collected.

The Library does not collect actual works of art (paintings, drawings, etc.) although an artist’s notebook containing sketches would be acceptable.

Material is acquired by bequest, donation, by long or short term loan (deposit) or by purchase.

Regional Collectors

In support of the collections policy, NIVAL engages a team of Regional Collectors to act as representatives of the library throughout the country.  The role of the Collector is to:

  • liase with local artists and arts organisations;
  • visit exhibitions, festivals and other arts events;
  • promote the research and repository role of NIVAL;
  • collect all available documentation for return to the library

To date, Collectors are located in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway/Northwest and Belfast/Northern Ireland.