Review of the year in art cataloging, 2012

The new cataloging rules, RDA or Resource description and access, have dominated much of cataloging discussion over the past few years. Testing is now done and implementation scheduled for spring 2013. RDA records will not look much different from AACR2 records but there is the potential for much richer metadata when we have a bibliographic environment that supports all that RDA can do. So, LC has started the Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative which may actually get us past pushing records around, records that still reflect their origins in catalog cards.


RDA Implementation Day One has been announced by LC as 31 March 2013. Some LC catalogers who were involved with RDA testing are using RDA now. This is also the date that PCC has targeted for Day One for RDA Authority Records but PCC does not see a need for a Day One for bibliographic records (PCC standard records will require RDA access points after Day One for authority records but the description may still be AACR2).

RDA tutorials for NACO participants will be prepared and available online by the summer. All NACO participants will be expected to take the tutorial before Day One. I am in the early stages of planning for an Art NACO workshop at the 2013 ARLIS/NA conference in Pasadena; the workshop will be aimed at new artnacoisti as well as RDA for current participants.

RDA will allow for more specific family names than LCSH which has been a concern particularly for local history research and common names. LC has announced that they will use two headings: the specific one for descriptive purposes, the more general one for subject purposes will continue in LCSH.

RDA testing at Stanford and perhaps elsewhere looked at the need for uniform titles (Works; Works. Selections) for resources with titles such as: Renoir : paintings, drawings, pastels. CAC will look at this and perhaps request a LC Policy Statement about the appropriateness of such a uniform title.

There were copies of RDA in print at the ALA Store during Midwinter in Dallas, January 2012. Chris Oliver has been hired to do copy editing to reword RDA and make it clearer but not change the instructions.

PCC has looked at existing name authority records in LC/NAF and determined that more than 90% will be acceptable for use with RDA and that others can be updated algorithmically. Of course some will need record-by-record consideration and revision. Reports of the various task forces may be found on the PCC website:

Descriptive cataloging (other):

The Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) now includes headings from more than a dozen national libraries and some other agencies including the Getty Union List of Artist Names (ULAN). Note that ULAN headings without specific life dates will have an approximate date that looks like a life date in the VIAF display. Headings from various sources for the same person or corporate body may be clustered in the VIAF display (based on related titles as well as heading match).

"Latifah, Queen" (n92027193) vs "Lady Gaga" (no2008179258)? Cataloger judgment about whether the name is a pseudonym or appellation. 22.10a vs 22.11a. Whatever, don't change existing headings per LC PSD.

Sam Duncan asked on arlis-cpdg about main entry for commercial galleries, that is, should commercial gallery be given main entry for an exhibition of works then in the possession of the gallery? Daniel Starr cited LCRI 21.1.B.2 on auction and sales catalogs. There were other responses counseling the exercise of cataloger judgment.

Subject cataloging and classification:

The ARLIS/NA Book Arts SIG is looking at how to facilitate cataloging/discovery/information exchange about artists' books and book artists. Check ARLIS-L archives for "artist book cataloging fields feedback request" and pursuant discussion (26 Feb. 2012). This is on their agenda for discussion at the Toronto conference.

The LCSH editorial process has shifted from weekly to monthly meetings. While this may mean that a heading will take longer from proposal to approval, it is necessary with PSD retirements and also allows related headings to be grouped and complicated proposals to be studied. Reports from each monthly meeting are available and can be very informative about subject heading construction.

SACO proposals (new and revised headings) are now submitted via the LC Minaret software. You must have a ClassWeb subscription in order to participate. If you have a troublesome or missing heading, you may submit it to Art SACO and we'll see what we can do. Proposed headings no longer appear at

A subcommittee of the ALA Subject Analysis Committee has been working with LC and other subject library associations on form and genre terms and subdivisions. The subcommittee prepared a spreadsheet with several terms/subdivisions "deferred to art project." CAC will be working on this over the next year or so. If you are interested in helping, please let me know. Drafts will be available on the CAC wiki: The ATLA is about done with their work on theological terms and subdivisions, including liturgical objects. Their proposals will go to LC for analysis.

Ray Anne Lockard asked on ARLIS-L about processing and cataloging of biennial exhibition catalogs and several responses were received with some consensus that analytical records were more helpful than set records and that call numbers might spread around by topic. The importance of the catalogs and an appropriate access point was clear. A series of pamphlets is being issued for Documenta 13 (2012): Ray Anne is holding them at her desk; the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies is cataloging them and classing them as a series.

When I saw "Architecture, Domestic -- Carpenter gothic" on the list of approved headings, I was a little surprised that it was established directly as "Carpenter gothic (Architecture)." Several other styles are entered as subsets of domestic architecture, e.g., Mission and Shingle, even though they do appear more broadly than residences.

I was amused to see "Cell phones in art" on the "new LCSH for art and architecture" list for July 2010. Lynn El-Hoshy (retired now from LC) and I had had a discussion about "cell phones in art" versus "cell phone calls in art." My proposal had come from Piet Trantel auf dem E 1 von Hameln bis Freiburg. I had suggested "Cellular telephones in art" and Lynn convinced me that it was not the phones that were in the art but that calls had been used. Just passing this on to think about when you're cataloging and might want to use one or the other.

MARC format:

LC's Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative is looking at the future of MARC and other metadata. We are moving from a format for exchanging records to a means for sharing data and metadata. It is still early in the process but there is considerable information available from the LC page: or by searching "lc bibliographic framework" or similar. CAC will be considering what our role could or should be.

A MARBI discussion paper proposed fields to include titles related to the 1XX entity in an authority record. The Germans/Austrians do this by a search of the bibliographic database but they also do more of this in their records. cf A Core Oversight Committee is being established; probable members are co-chairs Trish Rose and Johanna Bauman, Robb Dettlefs, Dustin Wees, Rebecca Guenther, Elisa Lanzi, Kelcy Shepherd, and Esme Cowles.

The Getty Vocabulary Program is adding Chinese-language equivalents to AAT. Earlier this year, there were already over 3000 records with one or more Chinese equivalent terms.

Each of the Getty vocabularies, i.e., AAT, ULAN, TGN, has a contact address, i.e.,,,, that can be used for reporting duplicate records or other issues with a term.

The University of Virginia Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science have received IMLS funding to develop a National Archival Authorities Infrastructure. "The first activity will be devoted to increasing the archival community's expertise in the use of the recently released Encoded Archival Context--Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF), the international encoding standard for archival authority control. The second activity will focus on a community-based exploration of the essential requirements for establishing a sustainable National Archival Authorities Cooperative (NAAC)." (from their EAD-L announcement) This seems to hold promise for art cataloging since we also deal with headings that do not necessarily appear on works and which may need research in order to establish.


RDA Refresher Training at LC: Art catalogs (presentation and flowchart)

"Data aggregation and dissemination of authority records through Linked Open Data."
Xavier Agenjo, Francisca Hernández, Andrés Viedma.
Paper for IFLA 2011 in Puerto Rico:

Reminder: there is a list devoted to art cataloging issues, i.e., arlis-cpdg To subscribe:

Compiled by Sherman Clarke for the ARLIS/NA annual conference, Toronto, March/April 2012

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