Review of the year in art cataloging 2019

These notes on activities in art cataloging are prepared for potential discussion at the Cataloging Problems Discussion Group (CPDG) gathering at the ARLIS/NA annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, in March 2019.

Most of the terms in the LCGFT Art Project were accepted about a year ago and are now available for use in cataloging records. CAC prepared additional proposals for six terms that came up during the public LCGFT comment period or were otherwise lingering. Those terms are on the March 2019 list of tentative headings.
The new terms: Installation works; Multiples (Art); Negatives (Photographs); Patterns (Instructional works); Pottery; Stationery. This will complete the project phase of the art genre/form terms. We should be able to submit new proposals in an ongoing way in the near future.

LC issues monthly lists of new and revised LCSH terms as well as terms from other LC vocabularies. Deirdre Donahue (NYPL) compiles a list of art-relevant terms and sends it to ARLIS-L. "Gunpowder as artist material" caught my eye on a recent list, based on a book about Cai Guo-Qiang. It's not the first "... as artist material" heading but I'll keep it in mind when it fits better than "... in art" which is more applicable for themes in art. You can see the list of established "... as artist material" headings as narrower terms under Artists' materials. Other examples: Aluminum foil as artist material; Blood as artist material; Concrete as artist material; Ice as artist material; Postcards as artist material; Refuse as artist material. I saw a work at the Albright-Knox last week that involved daily litter pick-ups in the cellophane wrappers for cigarette packages. Looks like "Litter (Trash) as art material" to me.

The Book Art SIG has been working on a thesaurus of terminology for cataloging artists' books. The 2016 discussion draft version is available at
The Cataloging Advisory Committee is working with Heather Slania and Suzanne Rackover on term consistency, conflict resolution, hierarchy, and relationship to other vocabularies (AAT, TGM, LCGFT, RBMS).

CAC is working on getting "curator" added as a relationship designator in RDA at the Work/Expression levels, having only been available at Manifestation. It will have to go through the approval process and the RDA Steering Committee before becoming part of RDA (or not).

Andrea Cawelti (Houghton Library, Harvard) wrote me about symbols that are used as signatures by artists and how they play out in NACO records.
She also mentioned artists who add a symbol to their name, like Whistler and his butterfly. I pulled CAC into the conversation. The symbol could be described in a note on a bibliographic record ("Stamp of Paule Mainguy printed in red in the upper right corner.") or in a 670 source field on an authority record ("...: $b cover (R.S. Studio's stamp; represents a rosebud printed in black and red inside a golden frame)"). No one suggested that you might try to verbalize the symbol or logo as a textual-string reference. Until we're past MARC, there is no way to add an image to a NACO authority record.

LCSH will not be adding any new multiple headings and will be replacing existing ones with explicit authority records. For example, "Computers--Religious aspects--Buddhism, [Christianity, etc.]" is currently in LCSH. It will be replaced by records for those headings following this pattern already in the LC database, i.e., Computers--Religious aspects--Christianity; Computers--Religious aspects--Hinduism; Computers--Religious aspects--Zen Buddhism (and others). Any new religion needed in cataloging will be established explicitly.
OCLC will help identify which headings have already been used in these terms that use the multiple concept. LC is treating this as a project and does not wish to be notified about multiples that need to be broken apart.

CAC is working on a new edition of Cataloging exhibition publications. The The 2002 AACR2 edition is available at
The new edition will be RDA-compliant. RDA is currently going through a major reworking and the new CEP guidelines will reflect the new RDA. Comments are welcome to CAC.

One of the concepts working its way through the RDA Steering Committee is WEM-LOCK which is related to diachronic resources (those works whose content is expected to change over time, in contrast to static resources). WEM-LOCK will hold Work-Expression-Manifestation together when the Manifestation is new. This may help with the art cataloging issue of reproductions (cataloged as if originals, or not, and as part of an art book) as well as the fact that art works often share attributes of Work, Expression, Manifestation, and Item. Stay tuned, along with CAC.

Someone asked on some list about using MARC 518 or 585 for exhibition venue and date information. CAC looked at this and issued a best practice message recommending the use of 500 for this information. Field 585 is for notes on exhibitions in which the material described has been shown. Field 518 is intended for time of creation or capture information.

Sometimes, you're cataloging a book and you have a concept or theme that just doesn't seem to fit in the suite of subject headings and you cover it in a note. I remember working "intervention" into a note on a MoMA record some years ago. The other day, I ran across "art interventions" in AAT. I'll have to remember that and do a subject proposal for LCSH the next time I have an intervention.

Folks had been reporting that they saw "Photography, Artistic" subdivided by century. CAC asked Libby Dechman, subject specialist at LC Policy and Standards Division, and she said she's adding "Photography, Artistic" to SHM H 1148 so it will be considered a fine art medium like Painting or Sculpture. Centuries will be valid without an intervening "History" subdivision. The H 1148 update will appear in the next update of Catalogers' Desktop. Again, LC will treat the bibliographic maintenance as a project so they don't need to be notified about old-style records. There are some narrower terms to "Photography, Artistic" such as "Dance photography" and "Photography, Abstract." Do they also become fine art mediums as far as chronological (and geographic) subdivision are concerned? "Portrait photography" is NT Photography, not NT Photography, Artistic; some of the LC occurrences have "History" and some don't.

Reports from the ARLIS/NA liaisons to ALA committees (CC:DA, MAC, SAC) are on the CAC wiki page:

Compiled by Sherman Clarke

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