General policies

The Graphics format is used for cataloging prints, posters, postcards, and other two-dimensional visual materials. Visual materials issued as books, such as photobooks and artists’ books, are usually cataloged using the ‘Book’ format.

Original cataloging of published visual materials follows the latest national standards: Resource Description & Access, generally used for post-1800 items, and DCRM(G): Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics), used for pre-1801 items.

When creating collection-level records according to RDA, see also: Collection-Level Records.

For guidance on using DCRM(G) see: Orbis Visual Materials Cataloging Manual: Single Items & Multiparts and Orbis Visual Materials Cataloging Manual: Collections.

For copy cataloging: use the best available copy in OCLC and add local notes and tracings. Do not ‘upgrade’ copy from older rules.


The following guidelines are for implementing RDA and Library of Congress-Program for Cooperative Cataloging Policy Statements (LC-PCC PS) within MARC encoding.


Type of record: k Two-dimensional nonprojectable graphic  
Bibliographic Level: m Monograph/item Used for single or multipart items
  c Collection Used for collections of items not published as such
  a Monographic component part Used for prints detached from books/magazines or “in”analytics
Cataloging form: i ISBD punctuation included  

See: MARC Bibliographic Standards for more information.

007 field: Nonprojected Graphic

Specific Material Designation:   Choose the value from the drop-down list  
Color: a One color Used for items printed in a single color other than black; not used for photographs
  b Black-and-white Used for items printed in black on white paper and for black-and-white photographs
  c Multicolored Used for items printed in more than one color and for color photographs
Primary support: o Paper Or choose a more appropriate value

See: MARC Bibliographic Standards for more information.

008: Values specific to Visual Materials

Running time: nnn Not applicable  
Type of material: i Picture Or, choose a more appropriate value. Note: the value k: Graphic is used when descriptive cataloging is based on conventions other than RDA alone.
Technique: n Not applicable  

See: MARC Bibliographic Standards and Orbis Visual Materials Cataloging: Single Items & Multiparts: 008 for more information.

040: Cataloging source

  • ‡a CtY-BR ‡b eng ‡e rda ‡c CtY-BR

043: Geographic area code

“Geographic area codes are assigned in bibliographic records to bring out by code the geographic areas that appear or are implied in the headings assigned to the work being cataloged.” For more information see: MARC Code List for Geographic Areas.

1X0: Creator

Record the creator of the work. Use relationship designators such as artist and photographer. If there is more than one creator, record the other creators as added entries (7X0 fields).

130/240: Uniform title

A preferred title for work may need to be provided when the agent responsible for the work is unknown, and the title statement is not unique.

245: Title

Transcribe title, other title information and statement(s) of responsibility.

If there is no title information within the resource, use title information from a published description. If no published description can be found, devise a title. For single or multipart items, generally use square brackets when recording devised titles or titles taken from published descriptions. Do not use square brackets when recording devised titles, or titles taken from published descriptions when the resource is type that does not usually carry identifying information, or when creating a collection-level record.

246: Variant title

Record variant titles, such as portions of titles, if considered important for identification.

250: Edition statement

An “edition statement” can be used to differentiate different versions or states of a visual work. For example, film posters can be issued in more than one style, in which case one would transcribe “Style A” as an edition statement.

Generally, record statements such as “Artist’s proof” in 590 notes. There may be situations where one would choose to create separate records for proofs, in which case a statement such as “Artist’s proof” would be recorded in field 250.

264: Publication and Manufacture statements

Transcribe/record place of publication, name of publisher, and date of publication as you would for language material.

Transcribe/record place of manufacture, name of manufacturer, and date of manufacture, if present within the resource. It is not necessary to provide a date of manufacture if it is the same as the date of publication.

300: Physical description

‡a Extent
  Record extent by giving the number and type of unit(s). Use a term for the type of unit from the list in RDA or use another concise term.
‡b Production method
  Use one or more of the terms listed in RDA or another concise term. The Graphics Atlas may be helpful when trying to determine the production method. Optionally, record production method in 340 ‡d.
  Color content
  Record color content, or details of color content, if considered important for identification. Use the alternative instruction for recording color content and the American spelling “color.”
‡c Dimensions
  Record the height x width (or diameter) of the pictorial area.
Add the dimension of the sheet if the image is less than half of the sheet size, or if there is substantial information outside of the pictorial area.

336: Content type

Always record:

  • ‡a still image ‡2 rdacontent

Additional content types can be recorded.

337: Media type

Generally, record:

  • unmediated ‡2 rdamedia

Other possible values are: computer and stereographic.

338: Carrier type

Generally, record one or more of the following:

  • sheet ‡2 rdacarrier
  • volume ‡2 rdacarrier
  • card ‡2 rdacarrier
  • other ‡2 rdacarrier

Other possible values are: stereograph card, computer disc, and online resource.

340: Physical medium

Use separate 340 fields for each subfield. For example, an engraving mounted on wood (as issued):

  • 340 ‡a paper ‡2 rdamat
  • 340 ‡c ink ‡2 rdamat
  • 340 ‡d engraving ‡2 rdapm
  • 340 ‡e wood ‡2 rdamat

340 ‡a: Base material

Record base material in ‡a. For a list of terms, see RDA Material. If none of the terms in the list are appropriate, use another term.

  • 340 ‡a paper ‡2 rdamat

340 ‡c: Applied material

Record applied material in ‡c. For a list of terms, see RDA Material. If none of the terms in the list are appropriate, use another term.

  • 340 ‡c ink ‡2 rdamat
  • 340 ‡c silver halide emulsion ‡2 rdamat

340 ‡d: Production method

Record production method in ‡d (an alternative to 300 ‡b). For a list of terms, see RDA Production Method. If none of the terms in the list are appropriate, use another term.

  • 340 ‡d engraving ‡2 rdapm

340 ‡e: Mount

Record mount in ‡e, if applicable. For a list of terms, see RDA Material. If none of the terms in the are appropriate, use another term.

  • 340 ‡e wood ‡2 rdamat

Note: copy-specific mounts are described in local notes.

490: Series statement

Transcribe series statements that appear within the resource. Provide a series added entry if there is a series authority record with a 645 “t” value present.

5XX: Notes

Give notes in the following order:

506: Restriction on access notes

  • BEIN [call no.]: Restricted. Permission of curator needed for use. ‡5 CtY-BR

A statistical category in the item record must be created. See Restriction on access for more information.

590: Local notes

Local notes are made to record provenance, imperfections and other important information pertaining to individual copies. This information is often noted on the accompanying accessions slip.

Generally, a single 590 note per copy suffices. Begin the 590 note with BEIN [call number]. If copy specific information is extensive, several copy specific notes for the same copy can be made for clarity, each beginning with BEIN [call number]. Record copy specific information in the order given below.

For a more complete list of local notes see: Copy specific notes.

520: Summary note

Provide a brief description of the image or pictorial content, if considered important. For example, a summary note should be made when the title information does not convey what the image depicts. See also: Summary note (520).

500: Note on title

Generally, record the location or source of title information. This note is important when the title does not appear within the pictorial area, as prints are often trimmed.

500: Other general notes

Provide other general notes if considered important for identification.

580: Linking entry complexity note

Provide a linking entry complexity note when cataloging prints detached from books or serials. Also give a 787 linking entry. See: OCLC Special Cataloging Guidelines: Offprints and Detached Copies.

510: Citation note

Provide a citation to a published description of the item when using that description as a source of information, or when that description contains information that is not provided in the bibliographic record. See also: Bibliographies.

505: Formatted contents note

Provide a formatted contents note to list individual titles of multiparts or collections. This is especially useful when items are not housed together. Also provide a title and/or name title added entry if considered important or if required for access.

Subject access fields

600, 610, 611, 650, 651: Subject headings

For visual materials receiving full-level cataloging, Library of Congress Subject Headings are assigned according to the Subject Headings Manual. Usually the form subdivision Pictorial works is used. See: SHM 1935.


650   0 ‡a [Subject] ‡v Pictorial works.
651   0 ‡a [Geographical subject heading] ‡v Pictorial works.

650   0 ‡a Railroad trains ‡v Pictorial works.
651   0 ‡a Cincinnati (Ohio) ‡v Pictorial works.

655: Genre/form headings

Provide controlled terms for the type and form of visual material. Use terms listed on the Form and Genre Terms page and add other terms as needed. There are several thesauri that can be used (listed in order of preference):

  1. LC Genre/Form Terms (‡2 lcgft)
    Library of Congress Genre/Form terms (LCGFT) can be found in ClassWeb.
  2. Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphic Material (‡2 gmgpc)
    The Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (TGM) contains terms for both subject and form/genre. Only use terms from TGM that can be used in field 655 (specified in the notes field for the term).
  3. Art and Architecture Thesaurus (‡2 aat)
    The Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) terms are usually listed in entirely in lowercase. If using a term from AAT, capitalize the first letter of the term.

If a term appears in more than one of the thesauri, generally follow the order of preference when choosing which source code to use. This order of preference can be overridden in some cases. For example, if the scope note of a term from TGM is more suitable than the scope note of a term from LCGFT, then the ‡2 gmgpc source code can be used instead.


655   7 ‡a Stipple engravings. ‡2 gmgpc
655   7 ‡a Portraits. ‡2 lcgft

655   7 ‡a Cloth prints. ‡2 gmgpc

655   7 ‡a One-sheet posters. ‡2 aat

Added entries

7X0: Names

Record the names of other agents associated with the work or manifestation. Use relator terms such as engraver, etcher, lithographer, printer, and/or publisher. If the production method cannot be determined, use the broader term “printmaker” rather than engraver, etcher, lithographer, etc.

752: Hierarchical Place Name

Provide an imprint tracing if a genre/form heading has been used. See: Hierarchical place names.

773: Host item entry

Provide a linking entry when creating an “in” analytic record. See: “In” analytics and OCLC Special Cataloging Guidelines: “In” Analytics for more information.

787: Other relationship entry

Provide linking entry for a print detached from a book or serial. Also provide a 580 note. See: OCLC Special Cataloging Guidelines: Offprints and Detached Copies.

8XX: Series added entry

Record a series added entry when an item contains a series statement and there is a series authority record with 645 “t” value present.

852: Local Processing Notes

See: Local processing notes (‡x in MFHD)

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