PhotoLit - data bank on photographic literature

An international databank „in the making”

PhotoLit is a freely accessable databank which aims to list photographic literature published since 1839 . It is NOT a list to order books from. At present (June 2011) PhotoLit lists 38.000 entries (c. 74 MB) of books, periodicals and periodical articles which have – in a wider or more narrow sense – to do with photography in all its artistic, visual and technical aspects. The stock listed so far is only a small part of the world’s existent photographic literature – but titles are constantly added to. And we ask your assistance to make PhotoLit more complete.

As PhotoLit has been founded in Germany it yet reflects listings which are predominantly German or English language based. An internationalisation is definitely aimed for. In spite of its present language-based handicaps (see below) PhotoLit already offers remarkably interesting research results if used creatively.

"I have been using PhotoLit constantly since I learned about its existence a few weeks ago. This is an invaluable contribution to the advancement of photographic research, and a tool so many of us have been dreaming about. On behalf of all of us thank you."
Nissan Perez, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Dez. 2002.

The basics for PhotoLit consists of the then-8000+ titles of a private collection, that of Rolf H. Krauss in Stuttgart (see www.photocoll.de). Individual hints, the contents of other private libraries, of information supplied by specialized bookshops, from bibliographies, from the net – and much else - have been added since. Though the general aim is to include as much data from public collections as possible this has proved difficult due to the fact that a transfer of electronic data also needs data formatting which is often too much of a demand on PhotoLit’s limited personal and technical resources.

PhotoLit is a database originally based on the program Claris FileMaker. FileMaker works in Windows and Mac environments. The program, if run direct on a PC or Mac, offers very good search and sorting functions plus fast access of a large number of titles. Single entries or the result of search runs can be exported e.g. to Microsoft Word, or imported from Word or Excel lists. The PhotoLit data CD (without program, of course) is available for a nominal fee of 25 $/€ from hcagoe@yahoo.de . The CD version is well suited not only for advanced research but also for the accession of one’s own photographic library as many titles on your own shelves will have been bibliographically listed already, and so might save you much time. hcagoe@yahoo.de also offers to catalogue your photographic library as a commercial service, provided that the data accessed may then be used in PhotoLit also.

"I was astonished to see PhotoLit has not only blossomed to include 23,000 [now 32.500+] entries but in such an elegant and simple web accessible database. It is a very important resource work and an excellent example of the spirit of the Internet."
Edward Earle, International Center of Photography, New York, Nov. 2002.

This internet version presented here (www.photolit.de) is kindly provided by the Cologne-based photo book shop schaden.com. www.schaden.com may in fact help you to find new and some older photo books (especially artists’ books plus a fine selection of antiquarian photographic literature). However, in the internet version of PhotoLit some comments and some other fields of information are not shown. Not included are e.g. new and antiquarian book prizes, or a field in which can be entered the state of one’s personal book copy.

Users who want to add their own titles have now two choices: Start out from your own PhotoLit CD, or enter a title right here. The latter will then be transferred to PhotoLit at some later date.

In both cases you are asked to choose a short personalized abbreviation for your own personal book - e.g. John Miller London = JML - which is to be entered in the field “collection.

Hans Christian Adam