Architecture and Fine Arts History

A specialized library to benefit students in art and architecture was established in 1925. In 1939, the library moved into the newly built May O. Harris Hall. In 1974, the library relocated into the lower level of the newly dedicated Ray and Nadine Watt Hall.

The original library in Watt Hall occupied 6,200 square feet. In 1986, ground was broken to expand the library to nearly 13,000 square feet. The Helen Topping Architecture & Fine Arts Library was inaugurated in 1990. The library features the Alson Clark Reading Room, the Harry and Della MacDonald Periodicals Library, the John Stauffer Atrium (housing the reference collection) and the Torrey H. Webb Rare Books Reading Room. For some historic drawings and photographs of the Library, please go to the history of the Topping Library on the Public Art in Southern California web site.

Books and Journals

One of the many strengths of the AFA Collection is its book collection in the areas of architecture, fine arts, art history, landscape architecture and photography. Current and bound periodicals can be found in the periodicals stacks as well as the reading room. Other libraries on campus collect in related areas. These include the Doheny Memorial Library (main research library, concentrating on the social sciences and humanities); the Philosophy Library (aesthetics and philosophy); the Science and Engineering Library (engineering and mechanics; optics); and the Von KleinSmid Center (VKC) (urban planning). Books and journal titles held by the USC libraries (including AFA) are listed in the libraries' catalog, HOMER.

Rare Books

The AFA Library has a wide range of rare, first edition and precious titles that may be viewed in the Rare Books Room. Most titles in the AFA special collection are listed in the libraries' online catalog, HOMER.

Artists' Books

Among AFA's holdings is a small collection of Artists' Books, which are at times displayed in the library exhibition case. These books may be viewed in the Rare Books Room. Most of them are listed in the libraries' online catalog, HOMER.


The library has begun to acquire original collections in the areas of architecture, landscape architecture and public art. These collections contain drawings, photographs, slides and documents.