"Need help arranging artist monographs"
a discussion on ARLIS-L, March-April 2000

Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 17:13:46 EST
From: Jeff Weidman (jweidman@nelson-atkins.org)
Subject: Need Help Arranging Artist Monographs
---------------Original message-------------------
The Spencer Art Reference Library of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art arranges artist monographs by artist in the stacks.

We have developed an internal mechanism by which to do this, and we are in the process of refining it.

Do any other libraries out there arrange artist monographs in this way? If so, please contact us.

Many thanks,

Dr. Jeffrey Weidman
Associate Librarian, Access Services & Collection Development
Spencer Art Reference Library
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64111-1873
816-751-0409 - FAX 816-561-7154
E-mail jweidman@nelson-atkins.org

Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000 12:59:56 EDT
From: Helen Chillman (helen.chillman@yale.edu)
Subject: Re: Need Help Arranging Artist Monographs
-----------------Original message--------------------

Yes, Yale does. The originial Yale in-house classification scheme used the number J18 followed by the artist's Cutter number, keeping all monographs of artists, architects, sculptors, in one sequence, very much appreciated by the Art School the Arts Library originally served. When Yale went to LC throughout the library system, we persuaded the Catalog Department to preface the J18 number with N (the LC art class letter) and thus kept the same sequence using NJ18 plus the Cutter number.

The original classification also used date of publication as the final element in the class number, so that publications on an artist would be together under his name, by date of publication. This too has been kept, for the most part.

This is a very brief answer; more detailed information, if needed, should come from a full-time cataloger. I was in part responsible for preserving the J18-NJ18 arrangement, together with a long-retired member of the Yale Arts Library staff.

Helen Chillman, Yale

Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 16:46:39 EDT
From: "Barbara E. Reed" (Barbara.E.Reed@Dartmouth.EDU) [now barbara.reed@metmuseum.org]
Subject: Re: Need Help Arranging Artist Monographs
----------------Original message----------------------

Wouldn't it be useful to library users if this idea were to be adopted by LC for all twenty-first century artists, where so much art is mixed-media? For catalogers, too, because nationality would not be a required decision.

Catalogers, do you think that LC could be persuaded to make this change for artists born 2000 and later?


    Barbara E. Reed                barbara.e.reed@dartmouth.edu
    Art Librarian
    Dartmouth College                  phone 603-646-3831
    6033 Carpenter Hall
    Hanover NH 03755-3570            fax 603-646-1218

Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 10:14:26 EDT
From: Margaret Shaw (margaret.shaw@nga.gov.au)
Subject: Re: Need Help Arranging Artist Monographs
------------------Original message----------------------
Not long after we came into existence we created a modification of LC for artists.

The basic pattern is to put all single artists in Class N regardless of medium [except for photography and architecture] subdivided:

century - school or movement - country;

If there is no clear school or movement the artist goes under country.

C20 the division is predominantly by country.

The result is that for a school, movement or country the general works, and works on more than one artist, are followed by an alphabetical sequence of single artists monographs. The most useful aspect is to draw the works on a single artist into the same place on the shelves close to related artists.

While the modifications were drawn up by librarians, curators were consulted in the initial process.

This scheme works reasonably well. As with any system there are problems and if we were starting again we would do some things differently. Opinions among the staff vary.

J. Margaret Shaw
Chief Librarian
National Gallery of Australia
Research Library
GPO Box 1150
Canberra ACT 2601

Telephone: 61-(0)2 6240 6532
Facsimile: 61-(0)2 6273 2155
E-Mail: margaret.shaw@nga.gov.au

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 14:48:33 EDT
From: Jack Robertson (jsr8s@cms.mail.virginia.edu) [now jrobertson@monticello.org]
Subject: Re: Need Help Arranging Artist Monographs
------------------Original message----------------
Jeff and colleagues,
An interesting sidelight of libraries' efforts to shelve together all materials on individual artists is that, due to reliance on bibliographic utilities and copy cataloging, I now have three dozen artist monographs in my otherwise straight - LC collection classed in N 40.1 (the number used by the National Museum of American Art / National Portrait Gallery). The cataloging is good, but the "browsability" of the stacks is affected. (of course, "straight - LC" is pretty unbrowsable, too!).

-- jack

* * * * * * * *
Jack Robertson. Fine Arts Librarian
Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library
University of Virginia
(804) 924-6601

Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 18:23:58 EDT
From: Sherman Clarke (sherman.clarke@nyu.edu)
Subject: Re: Need Help Arranging Artist Monographs
------------------Original message-------------------
Barbara Reed suggested that all 21st-century artists might be nicely classified together, especially since many are mixed-media and don't fit into any category comfortably so you might as well arrange them by name. If your stacks are closed, that's probably fine.

On the other hand, the artist's name is the easy access point in the catalog. If a user is looking for all the stuff on a particular artist, they might wonder why you'd classified her or him in various numbers by format or nationality, etc., leaving the user to chase around the stacks fetching the books. But if they wanted to see a bunch of recent German or American or video or print or collage work, they'd probably be pretty happy that a browse of the shelves gave them a bunch of artists, including one-person exhibition catalogs.

I am of at least two minds when it comes to classing solely by artist. When we were debating this at the Amon Carter in the early 1990s, the print curator said she wanted the engravings, lithographs, etc. together rather than putting all printmakers in one sequence (to say nothing of putting the printmakers, painters, sculptors, photographers together). The photography curators however said put the photographers together (the TR schedule is quite horrible for classifying by artist and we used TR140 which is not in the art photography section of TR).

I'm not sure the change of century has any strong effect on my feelings about this topic.

Sherman Clarke - NYU - sherman.clarke@nyu.edu

Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 15:59:06 EDT
From: "Starr, Daniel" (Daniel_Starr@moma.org) [now daniel.starr@metmuseum.org]
Subject: Re: Need Help Arranging Artist Monographs
-----------------Original message----------------
I inherited a local "classification" scheme here at MoMA where artists are arranged in A-Z sequence. I have never understood how this facilitates browsing, as I've never encountered a question such as, "I'd like to see all of your books on artists whose last name begins with G." If I ever did encounter this question, I'd suggest the alphabetical arrangement of the on-line catalog would provide the information easily enough.

On the other hand, I have been asked if we can provide information about our holdings on contemporary artists, and that suggests that there is merit in Barbara's proposal. But first, since a book can only be in one spot on the shelf, we have to ask whether this proposed arrangement is more useful than the traditional classification by medium or by country. As artists become more international and tend to work in more media, or more mixed-media, perhaps some chronological arrangement would be more useful, but whichever one we choose, we still won't really have the information we need. We need to be able to have access to many chronological periods: post-war artists, artists working in the 1970s, artists of the 21st century, etc. Rather than trying to make the classification do what it can never do well, why don't we assign subject headings that will allow for an approach to the chronological coverage of the work, something that currently we do imprecisely (as in the subdivision 20th century) or not at all, depending on the heading. Why not use decades, or specific date ranges: Art, American--1980-1989 or Art, American--1972-1986? Or better yet, use an existing field in MARC for "time period of content" (045) that would make it easy to code this information.

The problem is to get library system vendors to provide a searching mechanism that would make these headings or codes useful. For example, we can code the cataloging for a book that discusses art produced from 1976 to 1998, no matter whether it is a general survey or a work about one artist, but this information isn't useful if the search engine won't retrieve this record when someone is searching for work done in the 1980s or specifically in 1984.

And I don't have a solution to that ...

Daniel Starr - The Museum of Modern Art

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