The program encompasses publications issued in conjunction with art and architecture exhibitions and includes catalogues published by museums, galleries, and trade and university presses. Only publications that can be bibliographically identified as exhibition catalogues are included; regular art books that may be sold in conjunction with exhibitions but do not specifically document them are excluded from this program (but see also the information on our separate program covering American trade and university press books). Although publications from North America and Western Europe figure most prominently in our regular selections of museum and gallery publications, catalogues from other areas of the world are also represented.

Coverage and Selection Policies

Worldwide's coverage of new exhibition catalogues is international in scope and encompasses publications in all areas of art and art history. To ensure that our selections and acquisition recommendations are based on the fullest possible survey of new material in the field, our staff continuously monitors the activities of many hundreds of art institutions around the world, from major museums to small regional galleries. We annually evaluate thousands of newly published catalogues, only the most worthwhile of which are chosen for inclusion in our distribution program. Every effort is made to acquire review copies as soon as the catalogues are published so that those selected can be made available to our clients without delay.

No catalogue is chosen for distribution through our program until a conscientious appraisal of its probable importance to our library customers has been made. Among the many factors considered in evaluating each catalogue are the significance of its theme, the quality of its textual and pictorial documentation, its importance in comparison to catalogues of a similar nature and its value in relation to its price. The selection process is designed to ensure that only the catalogues judged to be most useful and important for academic, public and museum libraries are provided through the program.

Titles selected for this program are not restricted by country of publication or by language, and our selections routinely cover all historical periods and artistic media. However, titles from North America, Western Europe, and Australia/New Zealand predominate (with English-language material from Asia and elsewhere increasingly represented). And because most of our clients are in English-speaking parts of the world, our selections are weighted towards English-language material. Nonetheless, titles in other languages (especially French, German, Italian and Spanish) are routinely included, particularly if the language relates directly to the subject matter, if equivalent material on the subject is not generally available in English, and if the foreign-language catalogue would likely be an appropriate acquisition for a significant number of academic libraries in North America.

Approval Plan Coverage: Level Classifications

Each year our staff selects more than 2,000 new exhibition catalogues for inclusion in our listings. While it is possible for a library to receive all of these titles under an approval plan, our program is designed to accommodate the diverse needs and resources of the art-library community. We therefore provide a variety of coverage options intended to serve both broad and specialized collections. Based on our evaluation of its overall importance, each catalogue chosen for distribution is assigned to one of four selection groups: Basic, Supplemental, Special Order and Additional Selections.

Standard Plans

Worldwide offers a wide range of standard approval plans that provide varying levels of coverage based on our general ranking of titles, as well as customized plans that provide focused coverage of specific subjects. Standard subject-based plans offered by Worldwide include plans covering architecture, photography, Asian art and contemporary art. A list of the standard plans with cost estimates for the current subscription period is provided at the end of this section. Costs are monitored very closely over the course of the year, and customers may make budgetary adjustments at any time.

Basic Selection (Plan 1): Forming the core of our approval plan program, this group consists of catalogues judged to be of central importance to the support of most undergraduate and graduate curricula. Catalogues documenting retrospectives on established artists, significant group shows, and important thematic exhibitions are typically included in this selection.

Plan 1 titles are subdivided into two basic categories, English-Language Catalogues (Plan 7) and Foreign-Language Catalogues. Note: catalogues fully bilingual in English and another language are included in Plan 7 rather in the foreign-language category.

Plan 7 is further subdivided into increasingly selective categories to assist libraries that may find Plan 7 (or Plan 8, or Plan 9) too broad for their needs or their budget, and must therefore limit and prioritize their acquisition of English-language materials:

Plan 8 represents the most significant titles from Plan 7
Plan 9 represents the most significant titles from Plan 8
Plan 10 represents the most significant titles from Plan 9

Plan 7 (all of the English-language catalogues from Plan 1) encompasses some 250 titles per year, whereas Plan 10 (the most select group of English-language catalogues from Plan 1) encompasses just 35 to 45 titles per year, which are typically catalogues of major exhibitions mounted at key museums.

Similarly, a more focused selection of foreign-language catalogues is also offered: Plan 12 encompasses the most essential foreign-language titles from Plan 1, and is designed to meet the needs of libraries for which a relatively limited selection of foreign-language catalogues may be appropriate or desired.

Our Plan 1 Selection is complemented by our Supplemental Selection (Plan 2), Special Order Selections, and Additional Selections:

Supplemental Selection (Plan 2): This group encompasses noteworthy exhibition catalogues on more specialized topics, catalogues focusing on narrowly defined aspects of important artists’ oeuvres, or catalogues documenting the work of less prominent artists. Titles in this group are critical acquisitions for certain collections, but might be of less importance to libraries with more restricted collection needs.

Special Order Selections: A catalogue is offered as a Special Order Selection if its price exceeds its probable importance to most library collections, if its status as an exhibition catalogue is ambiguous, or if it largely duplicates previously published material. Only a small number of Special Order Selections are offered each month, and approval plans can be modified to include some or all of these publications.

Additional Selections: this group encompasses many smaller exhibition catalogues judged to be of secondary importance to most library collections, as well as collection catalogues and other museum and gallery publications unrelated to exhibitions. The category is especially pertinent to libraries with very strong collection interests in particular subject areas. Additional Selections include notable catalogues on lesser-known or emerging artists, chiefly pictorial treatments of major figures, and scholarly studies of peripheral topics.

See also the schematic diagrams showing how the various plans for museum and gallery publications relate to one another:
Customized Plans

Because the needs of our library customers vary greatly, we routinely administer individually tailored plans or modify standard plans to meet the unique requirements of our library customers. Subscribers may designate varying levels of coverage in specific subject areas, or can specify that our assignments be based on the material's suitability for general, undergraduate or graduate readerships. Plans can also be designed to exclude titles from certain museums, publishers or distributors (to avoid duplication of titles being supplied on approval by other vendors, or being received through exchange programs), or can be structured to ensure comprehensive coverage of specific imprints or series that may be particularly important to a library.

Although plans based solely on a specific list of publishers or museums can easily be administered by Worldwide, we often advise clients to implement publisher- or museum-based coverage only as a supplement to a content-based plan; a plan limited to titles from a specific list of publishers or museums would likely ignore many titles that might be of interest to a client, and that might not be available through their other vendors. A more prudent solution for a library interested in comprehensive coverage of certain imprints might well be to first define a subject-based selection profile, and supplement it with comprehensive coverage of titles issued by a specified list of museums or commercial publishers.

Likewise, many clients choose to subscribe to one of our basic plans, and then select elements from one or more specialized plans to ensure more extensive coverage of certain subject areas that are of particular relevance to their needs. For example, a library supporting broad academic programs in art and art history that also wanted thorough coverage of photography might choose to subscribe to a Plan 1 selection (our Basic Plan covering important catalogues in all subject areas) supplemented with photography titles from Plan 2 and the Additional Selection category.

Plans for exhibition catalogues can also be structured to accommodate selected trade and university press books that are unrelated to exhibitions; see also the separate section detailing our approval plan programs for Trade and University Press Books.

Worldwide has devised a worksheet to assist libraries that may be interested in defining a customized approval plan with varying levels of coverage in specific subject areas, or a modified version of one of our standard plans: