Catalogers Discussion Group
Frick Collection, April 7, 2003

A group of New York art catalog librarians met on April 7, 2003 at the Frick Collection, hosted by the Frick Art Reference Library. Agenda consisted of reports and commentary on cataloging sessions at the recent ARLIS/NA conference in Baltimore. Time permitting agenda suggested discussion of possible program proposals for the annual conference in New York in '04.

Attendees: Mark Bresnan (Frick), Erin Elliott (Bard), Lotte Falkenberg (Frick), Aimee Genell (Frick), Deborah Kempe (Frick), Rodica Tanjala Krauss (Frick), Beth Kushner (Brooklyn Mus.), Elizabeth Lilker (NYU), John Maier (IFA/NYU), Margaret May, Elizabeth O'Keefe (Morgan), Maria Oldal (Morgan), Zimra Panitz (Whitney), Christina Peter (Frick), Faith Pleasanton (MMA/Neue Galerie), G. Jesse Sadia (Frick),Paul Schuchman (Frick), Eric Wolf (Frick), Cindy Wolff (MoMA).

Cataloging Section meeting (Bresnan): Section members thought that they needed to justify the Section's existence in response to a ARLIS/NA board effort to find ways to streamline structure and reduce the number of meeting rooms needed at the annual conference. Most section members voiced support for the Section's continued existence. Revitalizing the annual Section meeting is a concern, now that it's not an incubator for conference proposals. One idea was for there to be one or more short presentations on cataloging issues or trends at the annual business meeting. Moderator: Ann Copeland; Vice-Moderator: Zimra Panitz.

Cataloging Advisory Committee (O'Keefe, Wolf): Bad news: LC has rejected the Committee's effort to move headings for buildings from Subject Authority File to Name Authority File, saying there was no proof the headings were corporate bodies, and that convenience alone is not reason enough to switch. There exists hope among some art catalogers that this might eventually come to pass but clearly another approach is needed. Eric Wolf cited headings for chapels as possible exceptions of buildings in NAF. Using building headings for exhibition venues might be a use for the 720 field, Debbie Kempe offered. Good news: Committee is working on guidelines for cataloging art exhibition documentation, an outgrowth of Kay Teel's earlier draft core for exhibition catalogs. Committee will work on fleshing out the NH LC classification schedule for photography and mount the schedule on the ARLIS/NA web site.

Next Generation of Catalogers (Panitz, group): Presenters Beth Picknally Camden and Diane Barlow investigated the perception that library schools were in general offering fewer cataloging courses and/or that cataloging courses were increasingly no longer core requirements for aspiring professionals. They concluded that this perception is a myth: just as many cataloging courses are offered today as were offered years ago and cataloging is still a core course (though sometimes under a different name). The New York group doubted this thesis: their perception is that cataloging courses are more theoretical than practical if they're offered at all and advanced cataloging courses are increasingly rare. Some argued that adjunct teachers teach cataloging better than tenured faculty, and vice-versa. Most agreed with Erin Elliott that cataloging is rarely presented as a career path. Elizabeth Lilker touted the woman who taught her cataloging, Sherry Vellucci.

Private Librarians and Library Consultants (Wolf): Eric Wolf discussed the session he led - an information exchange between colleagues who catalog private libraries and who design databases for their clients. Topics included database design, classification used, thesauri used, financial factors. An informal survey of attendees showed more that the majority did some work outside their "day job." Eric discussed the work he's doing for Blumka Gallery: setting up an Access database, using LCSH but mainly AAT; narrow local class. system with exceptions made for exhibition catalogs and auction catalogs.

Descriptive and Subject Cataloging for Art Materials (Bresnan): Mark Bresnan explained that the sessions consisted of descriptive cataloging of illustrated publications (Ewald), headings for named works of art (Hiatt), and subject assignment for works in the fine and decorative arts (Wewerka). The three presenters covered their topics well. Ewald covered main and added entry with plenty of examples printed out; one New Yorker thought they'd heard Hiatt's talk before; Wewerka stressed the differences for subject headings in fine vs. decorative arts. Bresnan found it a helpful re-grounding in the basics of our day-to-day work. He offered to share copies of session handouts with colleagues. See summary at Sherman Clarke's web page:

Betwixt and Between: Integrated MARC Data With Museum Object Records (O'Keefe): Elizabeth O'Keefe thought this was a good session, with presenters keeping to the topic - mainly addressing the technical aspects of museum/library system integration. She thought they paid too little attention to the intellectual aspects of integration, and she's going to propose a session for next year's conference on this aspect, possibly with a visual resources person and/or a representative of a natural history collection. The Morgan uses the 545 field for keyword access to alternate names and dates that curators may use in searches. Search results in the LACMA system show museum hits first, followed by library hits. Sort order is unclear. Zimra Panitz suggested that it might be by accession number. See summary at Sherman Clarke's web page:

Cataloging Problems Discussion Group: (Group) As a qualifier for auction houses, perhaps prefer (Firm) to (Auctioneers) seemed to be LC's position. Class Web is very different from Class Plus. It is good for verifying numbers. Default value in new RLG interface will be for local fields not to drop off. Guenter Waibel spoke about RLG's plans, which include cross-file searching. See their press release at

Brainstorming for New York '04: in addition to O'Keefe's proposal, some possible ideas mentioned were: 1-day workshop in rare book cataloging; FRBR; the solo cataloger; surviving a move of your technical service department; tech services management.

Next meeting will be hosted by Bard Graduate Center for the Decorative Arts, June 2, 2003.

Minutes compiled by Rodica Tanjala Krauss and Mark Bresnan

... go to CDG home page ...