Cataloging Section

Our Mission

The purpose of the Cataloging Section is to provide a general forum for art catalogers and to develop and support programs of interest to catalogers at the annual conference. Many of the cataloging concerns raised by members of the Section are taken up by the Cataloging Advisory Committee, which prepares formal recommendations on cataloging policy. 


Attribution Qualifiers for Artists' Names [PDF file]
Qualifiers such as "School of," "Pupil of," and "After" are commonly used by art historians to associate a work by an unknown artist with the name of a known artist whose oeuvre is stylistically similar or otherwise related to the work at hand. The terms in this list are intended to provide a controlled vocabulary for conveying attribution information about art works. The list was developed by the Cataloging Advisory Committee of the Art Libraries Society of North American (ARLIS/NA) in collaboration with the Data Standards Committee of the Visual Resources Association (VRA). Comments on the list or additional terms are most welcome.

Send comments to the current chair of the ARLIS/NA Cataloging Advisory Committee.

READ the MARBI discussion paper "Subject Access to Images" prepared by Elizabeth O'Keefe with input from Sherman Clarke and sponsored by ARLIS/NA and VRA.


NH Photography Classification Schedule (2004 revision) [PDF file]
The 2004 revision of the NH Photography Classification Schedule is now available for use. NH is an alternative classification schedule originally published in 1974 by ARLIS/NA for art libraries who do not wish to use the Library of Congress TR schedule for artistic photography. The revised version contains many new terms, an updated materials, supplies, etc. section, and a greatly expanded cinematography section.

ARLIS/UK & Ireland offers these cataloging publications for purchase:

  • Trade Literature: Cataloguing and Classification Guidelines. (2004) [PDF]
  • Art Exhibition Documentation in Libraries: Cataloguing Guidelines. (2000) ISBN: 978-0-9519674-7-8. Compiled by the ARLIS/UK & Ireland Cataloguing and Classification Committee. Available through print on demand. This book is an invaluable addition to the professional literature for cataloguers interested in standards and data sharing. Download an order form here: [PDF].




First stops:
  • Art Cataloging homepage: Useful links, important topics, and vital information for art catalogers (from Sherman Clarke)
  • Cataloguer's Toolbox at Memorial University of Newfoundland
    A well-organized page devoted to cataloging resources, including a glossary of bibliographic information in major European languages
Quick tables:
  • ALA-LC romanization tables from LC's Cataloging Policy and Support Office (PDF document: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
  • LC Cutter chart
Major libraries and bibliographic utilities:
Research resources for authority work:
  • Getty Research Institute vocabulary databases Including the Union List of Artist Names (ULAN), the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), and the Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)
  • Dictionary of Art Historians is a biographical dictionary of historians, museum directors and scholars of art
  • Smithsonian Institution Research Information System
    Search the catalogs of the Smithsonian libraries; the Freer Gallery of Art library catalog; the archival, manuscripts and photographic collections catalog; the Smithsonian American Art Museum research databases, and more
  • AXIS contains curricula vitae and artwork examples of over 3,000 contemporary artists in the United Kingdom
  • GEONet Names Server from the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA)
  • Geographic Names Information System of the U.S. Geological Survey
  • National Register of Historic Places (from the United States National Park Service) A database that contains information on nearly 76,000 districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture
Special materials cataloging:
Cataloging software for small libraries 

One of these software packages may be appropriate for cataloging small private libraries. Links, prices and information are current as of April 2012.

Suggested Readings/Resources for Beginning Catalogers:

Chan, Lois Mai. Cataloging and Classification: An Introduction. Third Edition. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007.

Cole, Timothy W. XML for Catalogers and Metadata Librarians. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2013.

Fawcett, Joe, Danny Ayers, and Liam R. E. Quin. Beginning XML. Fifth edition. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wrox, 2012.

"Introduction to Cataloging, Library Juice Academy." Accessed January 25, 2015.

Maxwell, Robert L. FRBR: A Guide for the Perplexed. First edition. Chicago: Amer. Library Assn. Editions, 2009.

———. Maxwell's Guide to Authority Work. Chicago: Amer. Library Assn. Editions, 2002.

———. Maxwell's Handbook for RDA: Explaining and Illustrating RDA, Resource Description and Access Using MARC21. Chicago: Amer. Library Assn. Editions, 2013.

Mering, Margaret, ed. The RDA Workbook: Learning the Basics of Resource Description and Access. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited, 2014.

Miller, Steven J. Metadata for Digital Collections. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2011.

OCLC. "Bibliographic Formats and Standards." Accessed January 25, 2015.

Oliver, Chris. Introducing RDA: A Guide to the Basics. First edition. Chicago: Alpha Pub House, 2010.

"RDA: Resource Description & Access Training Materials." Accessed January 25, 2015. training materials/index.html

Weber, Mary Beth, and Fay Austin. Describing Electronic, Digital, and Other Media Using AACR and RDA: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2010.

"XML Tutorial." Accessed January 25, 2015.

Zeng, Marcia Lei, and Jian Qin. Metadata. Second edition. Chicago: ALA Neal-Schuman, 2014.

Summary of Cataloging-Related Sessions at Past Conferences:

For a complete list of conferences, sessions, and proceedings, please visit the ARLIS/NA Conferences page. 

2011: Minneapolis

Reconciling Vocabularies on the Semantic Web
More Than Meets the Eye? Retrieving Art Images by Subject
Cataloging Section business meeting

2010: Boston

Cataloging Problems Special Interest Group meeting

2009: Indianapolis

Discovery on This Side of the Virtual Wall: Evolving Authority Control Resources & Techniques in the Digital Age
Where Libraries & Archives Converge: Artists Files
Integrating Resources Through Collaborative Convergence
Workshop: They Never Covered This in Library School: Cataloging Artists Books
Cataloging Advisory Committee business meeting
Cataloging Section business meeting

2008: Denver

Cataloging Section business meeting minutes

2005: Houston

Session III: Providing Visual Information in the New "Smart" University: The Cross-Campus Development of Digital Image Libraries
Session V: Visual Access to Visual Materials
Session VIII: Outside the Box, Beyond the Cubicle: Developing Versatile Catalogers
Session XVII: Cataloging Cultural Objects: Implications for the Field
Session XIX: "When Couture Costs Less Than Ready-to-Wear:" Non-Commercial Content Creation and Resource Sharing
Cataloging Section business meeting minutes
Cataloging Advisory Committee business meeting minutes
Cataloging Problems Discussion Group minutes

2004: New York City

Session 6: Integrating Intellectual Access to Library, Museum, and Archival Materials
Session 13: Preparing for Shared Cataloging: An Overview of Needs, Benefits, and Efforts
Cataloging Section business meeting minutes
Cataloging Advisory Committee meeting (minutes not available)
Cataloging Problems Discussion Group minutes

2003: Baltimore

Session 1: The Invisible Web and More with Laura Gordon-Murnane (abstract not available)
Session 11: The Next Generation of Catalogers: Issues in Education and Training
Session 17: Betwixt and Between: Integrated MARC Data with Museum Object Records
Workshop 5: Descriptive and Subject Cataloguing for Art Materials
Cataloging Section business meeting (minutes not available)
Cataloging Advisory Committee meeting (minutes not available)
Cataloging Problems Discussion Group abstract

2002: Joint ARLIS/NA-VRA Annual Conference in Saint Louis

Session 2: Common Ground: Standards for Cataloging Images and Objects
Session 10: Stretching the Mold: Standard Cataloging and Special Materials
Seminar 3: Cataloging Outside the Canon: Cataloging African Art
Seminar 6: Common Ground: Standards for Cataloging Images and Objects
Workshop 6: Building Relational Databases (summary not available)
Workshop 8: Common Ground: Implementing the VRA Core in an Image Collection Management System (summary not available)
Cataloging Section business meeting
Cataloging Advisory Committee business meeting (summary not available)
Cataloging Problems Discussion Group minutes

2001: Los Angeles

Session 3: "Too Much of a Good Thing?" Selection, Collection Development, and Cataloging of Art/Design Web Sites
Session 4: Through Time and Space: Documenting Museum Collecting and Exhibition History on the Web (abstract not available)
Session 7: Encoded Archival Description: Protocol and Practice
Ask ARLIS 4: Never the Twain Shall Meet? Museum Systems and Library Systems
AskARLIS 5: Renewing the Profession: Recruiting and Mentoring Art Catalogers
Workshop 2: Applying Added Value: Accessing Visual Information through the Use of Structured Vocabularies (summary not available)
Workshop 6: Subject Cataloging First Aid for Art Librarians
Poster session: The IRIS Cooperative: First Steps Toward Shared Cataloging of Visual Resources
Poster session: New Strategies to Support Access to VCU?s Art Exhibition Catalog Collection by Visual Arts Faculty and Students
Cataloging Section business meeting
Cataloging Advisory Committee meeting (minutes not available)
Cataloging Problems Discussion Group (rough notes)

2000: Pittsburgh

Session 3: CORE Foundations for the Vision of the Future: The History of Subject Indexing of Visual Materials
Session 7: The Construct of Indexing: Thought Processes in Subject Analysis
Session 12: Still Codeless After All These Years: The History and Possible Future of Subject Cataloging in the Field of Art
Cataloging Section business meeting minutes
Cataloging Advisory Committee meeting (minutes not available)
Cataloging Problems Discussion Group minutes

1999: Vancouver

Session 1: Subject Access to Visual Images: The Online Horizon from Where We Stand
Session 3: The Future of Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules
Session 4: Paving the Cow Path?: How the Past Affects the Present in the Cataloging and Indexing of Bibliographic Materials (abstract not available)
Session 10: Finding Aids: When Collection Level Records Are Not Enough (abstract not available)
Session 15: Auction Catalogues and SCIPIO Recon (abstract not available)
Cataloging Section business meeting minutes
Cataloging Advisory Committee meeting (minutes not available)
Cataloging Problems Discussion Group

1998: Philadelphia

Collection Level Records: Archivists and Librarians Share Solutions (abstract not available)
Session 9: Intellectual Access to Information Using Expert Systems as the Filter in User Interfaces
AskARLIS 1: Cataloging and Indexing in an Ideal World
Cataloging Section business meeting minutes
Cataloging Advisory Committee meeting minutes
Cataloging Problems Discussion Group (minutes not available)

1997: San Antonio

Session 9: False Economies?: Balancing Quality and the Bottom Line in Providing Access to Our Collections
AskARLIS 4: What can Art/Architecture Librarians and Visual Resources Curators Learn from Each Other?
Cataloging Section business meeting minutes
Cataloging Advisory Committee meeting minutes
Cataloging Problems Discussion Group minutes

Andrea Puccio

Cataloging Section