Catalogers Discussion Group
7 February 2005, Frick Collection

A group of approximately 30 art catalogers met in the Walnut Room of The Frick Collection on Feb. 7th to attend the CDG meeting hosted by the Frick Art Reference Library.

Mark Bresnan, Head of Bibliographic Records at the host institution welcomed the attendees and introduced the two main topics on the agenda: a presentation by Rodica Tanjala Krauss, Head of Cataloging Projects, on the recently completed project of loading auction sales catalog records from SCIPIO to FRESCO (the local OPAC), followed by a discussion of reports on the ALA midwinter meeting by Sherman Clarke and others.

Tanjala Krauss gave an overview of the approx. 2-year project of loading the records for auction catalogs from the SCIPIO database into FRESCO and the specific problems that needed to be worked out in constant cooperation with RLG and Innovative Interfaces to facilitate the process. The already existing loading table, used for importing RLIN records, was retained, with certain modifications. In the first step a uniquely identifiable field, or “trigger,” was selected for scoping, i.e. isolating auction catalogs from the rest of the collection (in this case, LOCATION was chosen as a trigger point). Auction catalogs have specific access points, “date of sale” being the most important among them. A new index was purchased from III to enable searching and retrieval by date of sale, using MARC tag 033 (date/time and place of an event, used for “date of sale” in auction catalogs). Mindful of the high cost of purchasing individual indexes, FARL reached a decision to use existing ones for other auction catalog-specific fields (e.g. ISBN/ISSN for “sale code,” KEYWORD for “place of sale,” “Lugt no.” and “pricelist information”). Additionally, some mapping of data was performed by Innovative to generate a call number, a date of sale note, and a place of sale note. These enhancements provide more information in each record. Tanjala Krauss then demonstrated some searches in both the technical and public versions of FRESCO: the latter was enhanced and redesigned to accommodate new search features for auction catalogs. Now users have a choice to search the entire library catalog or the auction sale catalog database only. Debbie Kempe, Chief of Collections Management and Access, who oversaw the project, commented on plans for future enhancements. A short discussion ensued with Liz O’Keefe asking about the number of records for auction catalogs in FRESCO (approx. 76,000), Elizabeth Lilker inquiring about the most popular searches by users (date of sale), Sherman Clarke suggesting the additional capability of searching the catalog without including the auction sales catalogs (not in the works in the foreseeable future, unless there is a strong demand from users), and Daniel Starr commenting on how much the librarians at the Met, currently involved in a very similar project, learned from the Frick experience, and stressing the importance of the 033 field. Beth Kushner mentioned that the Brooklyn Museum Library was also adding SCIPIO records to their local catalog, which they update in the local system and then upload back into SCIPIO.

The discussion of the ALA midwinter reports focused on the AACR3 draft. Sherman Clarke’s written report on the ALA Midwinter Meeting (Boston, Jan. 14-17) had been distributed to the group both electronically and in printed form prior to the meeting, and can be consulted at Daniel Starr, ARLIS/NA’s liaison to the Committee on Cataloging : Description & Access started his remarks by addressing Clarke’s concern, expressed in the above document, that the revision of AACR2 is being rushed by the Joint Steering Committee, which may result in “rearranging rather than moving forward in compelling ways,” and that the “needs of special cataloging communities seem to be getting short shrift”. Starr stressed the need to move forward with the project without lengthy deliberations, partly because sales of AACR2 are plummeting as potential buyers are holding out for the new product and proceeds generated from sales of AACR2 are essential for financing AACR3, slated to be published in 2007. The draft of Part I in 3 chapters has been prepared by now, covering Part I of AACR2. Starr focused on two issues: the publication, distribution, etc. area (260), and cataloging works of art.

Liz O’Keefe noted that AACR3 does not solve the discrepancy of “place of creation” vs. “place of publication, distribution or manufacture,” a problem for catalogers of original works of art. Starr admitted that while most catalogers do not face the challenge of describing original works of art on a regular basis, the revised rules still show a bias towards books and are not always applicable to electronic resources, manuscripts, etc. He mentioned that the draft questions the need for abbreviations and suggests eliminating [s.l.] and [s.n.] from the 260; O’Keefe registered her dissatisfaction with the latter issue, noting that for rare book catalogers the 260 is the only field in the record that shows whether the item being described is published or unpublished. As for cataloging works of art, Starr considers the present chapter in AACR2 a “throwaway” that the writers did not consider important enough, and stressed the need for terminology in AACR3 that is more transparent to the users. He also drew attention to changes in the specific material designation in the 300 field, where a distinction is being made between carrier (primary expression) and content (secondary expression), an interesting idea that nevertheless produced some strange results in practice. Starr mentioned a few other topics in AACR3 that had generated discussion: GMD in the title, digital media, instructions in the general introduction, chief and prescribed sources of information, abbreviations, accompanying vs. ancillary material. An outline of the draft of AACR3, Part 1, may be found at the Committee on Cataloging : Description & Access web site:

Maria Oldal drew attention to some conceptual changes in AACR3: according to the revised rules, an item using any kind of writing system is considered “print,” resulting in manuscripts being lumped together with printed matter in this category. Oldal also thought that “chief source of information” was not adequately defined for works of art.

Time and again the discussion reverted to the issue that the specific needs of the art catalogers’ community were not represented adequately towards the Joint Steering Committee. Oldal thought that a task force on cataloging art objects would not have been a useless exercise. Starr posed the question whether any other libraries beside the Morgan would have been interested, and acknowledged that it was too late for such an initiative. The deadline for submission of comments, suggestions etc. for AACR3 is Friday, Feb. 11.

John Maier was interested whether any other English-language based cataloging communities outside of the U.S. have expressed their consensus on the draft (according to Starr, not yet).

In the midst of the lively discussion time was running out, so certain issues were mentioned in passing, while members were referred to relevant papers and reports published online. Oldal gave a brief report on her experiences serving on the Task Force on Cataloging Rules for Early Printed Monographs, convened approx. a year ago by CC:DA. The Task Force's final report can be found at:, and referred to her powerpoint presentation at ALA Midwinter, “SAC Task Force on Named Buildings and Other Structures,” which can be found at

Clarke drew attention to a noteworthy MARBI proposal on hierarchical geographic names (available at as well as to an Autocat discussion on AACR3 (

Some job vacancies were mentioned (three at the Morgan, one at Rutgers, and a para-professional position at MoMa).

Erin Elliott offered to host the next CDG meeting at the Bard Graduate Center Library on April 18, 2005, where ARLIS and VRA conference reports will be the main topics of discussion.

Minutes prepared by Christina Peter

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