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Preliminary Reading List

Visual Materials Cataloging

Helena Zinkham

Preliminary Advices

Welcome to the Visual Materials Cataloging class! All students MUST read the required material before arriving in Washington in July. Yes, it's about 400 pages in five sources, but much of the text is catalog records.

Optional readings are provided for those already familiar with the required readings. The full citation list serves as the course bibliography to help you pursue specific interests in greater depth. Ordering information is included for the core books. The online addresses are current through October 2014.

You are also asked to complete two exercises before the class starts. Searching for Pictures (3 hours) is at the end of this reading list. The second exercise, Looking at Pictures (30 minutes), is available as a PDF file.

I look forward to working with each of you!

Helena Zinkham
Prints & Photographs Division
Library of Congress
hzin@loc.gov; 202/707-2922

Required Readings

    Descriptive Cataloging Tools

  1. Association of College and Research Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscripts Section. Bibliographic Standards Committee. Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics). Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2013. http://rbms.info/dcrm/dcrmg/DCRMG.pdf.
  2. DCRM(G) is the essential text for this course. Please read the entire volume for general familiarity with its content and bring the book with you to class. If questions or comments arise, feel free to email them to me between now and the date of the course.

    Subject Cataloging Tools

  3. Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division. Thesaurus for graphic materials. TGM I: Subject terms. TGM II: Genre and physical characteristic terms. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service, 1995 (revised edition).
  4. The current thesaurus is available only on the web at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/tgm/. Read the entire application guidelines for both TGM I and TGM II: http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/tgm1/toc.html and http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/tgm2/. Also, browse some of the term entries, which are used to index the subject content, genre, and physical characteristics of visual materials.

  5. Petersen, Toni, ed. Art and architecture thesaurus. 2nd edition; 5 volumes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Published on behalf of the Getty Art History Information Program.
  6. Petersen, Toni, and Patricia J. Barnett, eds. Guide to indexing and cataloging with the Art & architecture thesaurus. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Published on behalf of the Getty Art History Information Program.
  7. In the Guide, read Chapters 1–3 (pp. 3–46), Chapter 5 ("Archives and Special Collections," pp 87–100), and Chapter 8 ("Visual Resources," pp. 163–179). Take a look at some of the sample cataloging records for architectural materials, photographs, prints, personal papers and manuscripts. In the AAT itself, choose various hierarchies to browse through in order to gain general familiarity with the thesaurus' scope and format. The current vocabulary is available on the web at: http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/vocabularies/aat/

  8. Library of Congress. Subject Headings Manual. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service, 2014. http://www.loc.gov/aba/publications/FreeSHM/freeshm.html
  9. Please read the Subject Cataloging Manual chapter on the subdivision "Pictorial Works" (H 1935), available at http://www.loc.gov/aba/publications/FreeSHM/H1935.pdf.

    Cataloging Practice

  10. Zinkham, Helena. "Description and cataloging." In Photographs: Archival care and management, Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler and Diane Vogt-O'Conner. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2006, pp. 164–206.
  11. Library of Congress. Network Development and MARC Standards Office. MARC 21 format for bibliographic data. 2 vols. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service, 1999–2014.
  12. Read about the following fields that are used often or with special settings when cataloging visual materials: Leader/06, fixed fields 007 and 008, fields 245$h, 300, 520, 530, 545, 655, and 856.

    Basic familiarity with the MARC format is helpful for the course. If you need an introduction to MARC format conventions, please read Understanding MARC bibliographic: Machine-readable cataloging. 8th edn. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service in collaboration with The Follett Software Company, 2009. Available online at http://lcweb.loc.gov/marc/umb/

Optional Readings

The following optional readings give you a chance to explore topics related to visual materials cataloging in greater depth. Select a few according to your particular interest areas to contribute to the class discussions. A more extensive list of readings is available in the "Visual Materials: Processing and Cataloging Bibliography," at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/resource/vmbib.html.


  1. Dooley, Jackie M. "Processing and cataloging of archival photograph collections," in Visual resources 11:1 (1995), pp 85-101.
  2. Summarizes processing and cataloging issues for photographic archives: identifying nature and purpose of a collection; limitations of original order; control of negatives; mythical need for item-level records; choice of cataloging code; authority work problems; choice of subject thesaurus.

  3. Malan, Nancy E. "Organizing photo collections: An introspective approach," in A modern archives reader, ed. by Maygene Daniels and Timothy Walch. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, 1984, pp 181-186.
  4. Ritzenthaler, Mary L., and Diane Vogt-O'Connor. Photographs: Archival care and management. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2006. 529 p.
  5. Includes illustrated chapters on visual literacy; acquisitions; arrangement; cataloging; preservation; reference services; legal and ethical issues of ownership, access, and use; duplication; digitizing; and outreach.

  6. Schultz, John and Barbara. Picture research: A practical guide. NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1991. 326 p.
  7. Data Structures and Application Guidelines

  8. Baca, Murtha, and Patricia Harpring, eds. "Art Information Task Force Categories for the Description of Works of Art," Visual resources 11:3/4 (1996), special issue.
  9. The current CDWA is on the web. http://www.getty.edu/research/institute/standards/cdwa/index.html

  10. Cataloging cultural objects: A Guide to describing cultural works and their mages. Chicago: American Library Association, 2006. 396 p.
  11. Selected sections and sample records are online at http://www.vrafoundation.org/ccoweb/index.htm

  12. Dublin Core. Metadata Initiative. http://dublincore.org/
  13. Visual information was the focus of a workshop described by Stuart Weibel and Eric Miller (OCLC) in "Image Description on the Internet A Summary of the CNI/OCLC Image Metadata Workshop, September 24 - 25, 1996, Dublin, Ohio," for DLib magazine, January 1997. http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january97/oclc/01weibel.html

  14. Encoded Archival Description: Application guidelines (Version 1.0). Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1999. 308 p. Also on the web: http://www.loc.gov/ead/ag/aghome.html
  15. The EAD Home Page provides links to an online tag library (version 2002), finding aid websites, and helper tools and files. http://www.loc.gov/ead/ead.html

  16. Fox, Michael J., and Peter L. Wilkerson. Introduction to archival organization and description. Getty Information Institute, 1998. 66 p.
  17. Also on the web. http://www.getty.edu/research/institute/standards/introarchives/index.html

  18. Gill, Tony, Anne J. Gilliland, and Mary S. Woodley. Introduction to metadata: Pathways to digital information. Online edition, Version 2.1.Getty Research Institute, undated.
  19. Includes a crosswalk of nine schemes available for visual materials, most of which come from the art and museum communities: CDWA, Object ID, CIMI, FDA, MESL, VRA Core, REACH, MARC, and Dublin Core. Also on the web.


  20. RLG. Descriptive Metadata Guidelines for RLG Cultural Materials. Mountain View, CA: RLG, 2005. 67 p. Also available online at http://www.oclc.org/programs/ourwork/past/culturalmaterials/RLG_desc_metadata.pdf
  21. Best description of the metadata concepts: structure, content & values, and format.

  22. Thornes, Robin. Introduction to Object ID: Guidelines for making records that describe art, antiques, and antiquities. Getty Information Institute, 1999. 72 p.
  23. Outlines the minimum information needed to identify stolen art objects. The "Object ID" project is on the web: http://www.object-id.com/index.html

  24. Visual Resources Association. VRA Core Categories, Version 4.0, Visual Resources Association, Data Standards Committee, 2007 http://www.vraweb.org/projects/vracore4/index.html
  25. Descriptive and Subject Cataloging

  26. Dooley, Jackie M., and Helena Zinkham. "The object as 'subject': Providing access to genres, forms of materials, and physical characteristics," in Beyond the book: Extending MARC for subject access, ed Toni Petersen and Pat Molholt. Boston, MA: G.K. Hall, 1990, pp 43-80.
  27. Lanzi, Elisa. A Guide to enhancing access to art and material culture information. Revised by Patricia Harpring, 2000. On the web: http://www.getty.edu/research/conducting_research/vocabularies/introvocabs.
  28. General information on controlled vocabularies and authority work, with details about the Getty vocabularies -- Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), Union List of Artst Names (ULAN), and Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN). http://www.getty.edu/research/institute/vocabulary/introvocabs/index.html

  29. McRae, Linda, and Lynda S. White, ed. ArtMARC sourcebook: Cataloging art, architecture, and their surrogate images. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998. 294 p.
  30. Includes architectural drawing cataloging examples.

  31. Orbach, Barbara. "So that others may see: Tools for cataloging still images," in Cataloging and classification quarterly 11:3/4 (1990), pp 163-191.
  32. Explains the core information needed to provide access to pictures and illustrates how multi-level descriptions (collection, group, and item) fit together.

  33. Shatford, Sara. "Analyzing the subject of a picture: A theoretical approach," in Cataloging and classification quarterly 6:3 (1986), pp 39-62.
  34. Provides a framework for understanding the different kinds of subjects in pictures.

  35. Shatford, Sara. "Describing a picture: A thousand words are seldom cost effective," in Cataloging and classification quarterly 4 (1984), pp 13-30.
  36. Physical Characteristics and Preservation

  37. Baldwin, Gordon. Looking at photographs: A guide to technical terms. Malibu, CA: The J. Paul Getty Museum, in association with British Museum Press, 1991. 88 p.
  38. Gascoigne, Bamber. How to identify prints: A complete guide to manual and mechanical processes from woodcut to ink-jet. London: Thames and Hudson, 1986. 208 p.
  39. Goldman, Paul. Looking at prints, drawings, and watercolours: A guide to technical terms. Malibu, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1989. 64 p.
  40. Jürgens, Martin. Digital print identification web site: 2004.
  41. Kissel, Eléonore & Erin Vigneau. Architectural photoreproductions: A manual for identification and care. Newcastle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press and The New York Botanical Garden, 1999 121 pp.
  42. Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division. Thesaurus for graphic materials. TGM II: Genre and physical characteristic terms. Includes extensive bibliography for ephemera, cartoons, posters, photographs, prints, etc. On the web: http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/print/tgm2/bibl.html
  43. Mustardo, Peter, and Nora Kennedy. Photographic preservation: Basic methods of safeguarding your collection. (Technical Leaflets Series no 9) Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, 1994. 36 p.
  44. Northeast Document Conservation Center. Preservation 101: Preservation basics for paper and media collections, 2006, http://www.nedcc.org/education/online.php. Includes photographs, prints, and drawings.
  45. Reilly, James M. Care and identification of 19th-century photographic prints. Rochester, NY: Eastman Kodak Company, 1986. 116 p.
  46. Electronic Imaging and Access

  47. Besser, Howard, and Jennifer Trant. Introduction to imaging: Issues in constructing an image database. Santa Monica, CA: Getty Art History Information Program, 1995/1996. 48 p. Also on the web: http://www.getty.edu/research/institute/standards/introimages/index.html
  48. Collaborative Digitization Program. Digital toolbox, 1999- . http://www.bcr.org/cdp/digitaltb/index.html
  49. Denver Public Library. About the digitization and cataloging program at the Denver Public Library, a National Endowment for the Humanities grant report, June 2002, modified and updated for web presentation April 2003.
  50. Hurst Associates. Digitization 101 blog, http://hurstassociates.blogspot.com/
  51. Includes a digital resources list, conference news, and more.

  52. Ostrow, Stephen E. Digitizing historical pictorial collections for the internet. Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources, 1998. 36 p.
  53. Also on the web. http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/ostrow/pub71.html

  54. Sandore, Beth, ed. "Progress in Visual Information Access and Retrieval," in Library trends 48/2 (1999), special issue, pp 283-524.

Exercise: Searching for Pictures

(Web Catalog Sampler)

Compare general approaches to cataloging pictures by selecting two or three search terms from the following list. Then, use those terms as queries in five online catalogs to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of their descriptive records and access designs. A list of Online Picture Catalogs is available through the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division website: http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/resource/223_piccat.html

farm sunrises & sunsets Indians caricature
industrial hammer & sickle Columbia photographs
doors love Washington postcards
sewing war Niagara Falls Currier
children playing good & evil Battle of Gettysburg Curtis