Rare Book School

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L-40. Visual Materials Cataloging

Helena Zinkham

Need help with "hidden collections"? This course is intended for librarians and archivists who want to make visual material resources available and useful to researchers. The types of pictures we will consider range from eighteenth-century fine prints to born-digital photographs, from cartoons to posters, and from book illustrations to stereograph cards. The cataloging techniques we will use cover entire collections as well as single items. Specific topics include: description and transcription; subject indexing and form/genre access; the relationship between physical processing and cataloging; and establishing institutional priorities.

The core guideline is the new national standard Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics). DCRM(G) was published in 2013 by the Rare Book and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, in cooperation with the Library of Congress. The subject indexing tools are the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials and the Art & Architecture Thesaurus. The class will be held at the Library of Congress, thus enabling participants to work with collections and specialists in the Prints and Photographs Division.

Applicants should give a brief description of their experience cataloging rare and archival materials, their current duties with regard to visual materials, and the types of materials they expect to catalog. They are also encouraged to mention specific problems they have encountered, as well as any particular expectations they have for the course.

Course Resources

Course History


Helena Zinkham has taught this course since 1998.


This course is taught by Jackie Dooley.