Cataloging the Collection

Most of the Prints and Photographs Division's cataloging is considered "minimal level," because information is often limited to what was provided with the picture rather than what could be learned by further research. The following comments explain the general cataloging guidelines. They also point out which catalog record information is most useful for citing pictorial materials in research notes or publications. Since the original information accompanying a picture can be inaccurate, the Division is always glad to hear from researchers who have additional or better information. Please be aware that it usually takes several weeks to confirm information and make changes to online catalog records For more information about cataloging pictorial materials, see the cataloging bibliography.

In cataloging the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection of Baseball Cards, data was first recorded in two databases, one containing specific information about each of the 35 published card sets and the other containing information about each specific card. The data from each database was then mapped into the standard cataloging fields below.

TITLE. A title is transcribed from the original picture, or from a photographer's logbook or negative jacket. If the picture carries no caption a title is devised from another source and displayed in brackets. Devised titles are written by Library staff, or they might come from a published book illustration or a former owner.

The abbreviations "[sic]" and "[i.e.]" indicate erroneous spellings or information in transcribed titles. The correct information is provided as needed in the title or a note.

For this collection, the title will be either the player's name, the team name (for team photos), or the caption of the action scene depicted. Devised titles of players' names were taken from The Baseball Encyclopedia, 9th ed.

Example: Joseph Tinker

DATE or CREATED/PUBLISHED. The date refers to the year(s) when the image being cataloged was created, not the time period depicted in the picture.

Baseball card dates indicate the year the card was published. Some card sets were distributed over a two or three year time span. Individual cards in these sets may have been distributed in any of the years indicated.

SUBJECTS. For this collection, the SUBJECTS field will contain the following information when known: (1) the player's name as it appears in the Baseball Encyclopedia, 9th ed., (2) the city and team nickname, (3) the league, and (4) the player's position.

Example: Joe Tinker
Chicago Cubs
National League

RELATED NAMES. When multiple people or corporate bodies contribute to a work, their names can be listed as related, or added, entries. When the nature of the contribution can be specified, a relator term, such as client, copyright claimant, interior designer, or sculptor, is added after the name.

Example: American Tobacco Company

MEDIUM. The physical properties of the original work are described by listing a readily recognized broad category, such as photograph, drawing, or print, followed by a more specific designation, such as daguerreotype, charcoal, or aquatint. This is determined by examining the work. The description is also a reminder that the physical characteristics of the original work are quite different from a digital reproduction on a computer screen.

The quantity of material is also stated, although most records usually describe only a single item. The dimensions of a work are rarely provided in minimal-level cataloging.

Example: 1 print : relief with halftone, color

NOTES. Many types of notes are written to explain reproduction restrictions, sources of devised dates and titles, the name of the collection to which the work belongs, citations to published versions, and other aspects of the work. A subject description is sometimes written if a title is not self-explanatory. With minimal-level cataloging, some types of notes are omitted, for example, acquisition source is rarely provided.

In the Baseball Card Collection, some of the cards depict action scenes from games. The caption for those images often appears on the back of the card and is transcribed in the NOTES field. This field will also note the company that issued the card sets.

Example: Title: Close at the plate.

FORMATS. The genre and physical characteristics of the original work are listed as plural index terms. Examples include: Broadsides, Engravings, Group portraits, Lithographs--Color, Paintings--Reproductions, Political posters, Portrait photographs, Stereographs, and Woodcuts.

These headings are sometimes subdivided by the nationality, place, or decade in which the work was created. Other subdivisions indicate if the work is in color or is a reproduction of another medium. The terms come from the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials II: Genre and Physical Characteristic Terms.

Example: Baseball cards

CALL NUMBER. This string of letters and numbers is used to locate the original material at the Library of Congress and must be cited when ordering reproductions of images that do not already have reproduction numbers.

Example: LOT 13163-17, no. 12

REPRODUCTION NUMBER. This alphanumeric code identifies existing black-and-white and color photographs from which prints, transparencies, and other photographic reproductions can be ordered. This number is also the most useful (and shortest) reference citation to include with any subsequent publication of the image.

A qualifying phrase identifies the type of reproduction (e.g., color transparency) and points out which reproductions are only details or cropped versions of the original works. This information can help you decide which of the copy photographs you want to reproduce.

The abbreviation "b&w" stands for black-and-white.

Example: LC-USZC2-5117 (color film copy slide)

OTHER TITLE or ALTERNATE TITLE. Additional titles by which the work is known. For this collection, this field gives the commonly known name of the card set to which the card belongs.

Example: Mecca Double Folders

COLLECTION. The title of the collection associates each item with its source and is useful to include in bibliographic citations.

Example: Benjamin K. Edwards Collection of Baseball Cards

REPOSITORY. The name of the institution and division that have custody of the original work. This information can help you locate or cite the original.

DIGITAL ID (or VIDEO FRAME ID). The identification number for the digital file begins with a word or phrase that explains the source used to create the digital image, for example, the "original" work or a "b&w copy film neg." The Library's digital images are often created by scanning one or more of the copy photographs listed in the Reproduction Number field.

Example: (original) bbc 1234


General Works | Cataloging Tools


Besser, Howard, and Jennifer Trant. Introduction to Imaging: Issues in Constructing an Imaging Database. Santa Monica, Calif.: Getty Art History Information Program, 1995.

Cawkell, A. E. A Guide to Image Processing and Picture Management. Brookfield, Vt.: Gower, 1994.

Evans, Linda J., and Maureen O. Will, comp. MARC for Archival Visual Materials: A Compendium of Practice. Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1988.

Flynn, Marcy, and Helena Zinkham. "The MARC Format and Electronic Reference Images: Experiences from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division." Visual Resources  11 (Summer 1995): 47-70.

Hagler, Ronald. The Bibliographic Record and Information Technology. 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 1991.

Malan, Nancy. "Organizing Photo Collections: An Introspective Approach." PictureScope (Spring 1981): 4-6. (Reprinted in: A Modern Archives Reader, ed. by Maygene Daniels and Timothy Walch, Washington, D.C: National Archives and Records Service, 1984.)

McRae, Linda, and Lynda S. White, ed. ArtMARC Sourcebook: Cataloging Art, Architecture, and their Visual Images. Chicago and London: American Library Association on behalf of the Art Libraries Society of North America, 1998.

Muller, Karen, ed. (Authority Control Symposium: Papers Presented During the 14th Annual ARLIS/NA Conference, New York, N.Y., February 10, 1986). Tucson, Ariz.: Art Libraries Society of North America, 1987.

Orbach, Barbara. "So That Others May See: Tools for Cataloging Still Images." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly  11, no. 3/4 (1990): 163-191.

Ritzenthaler, Mary L., Gerald J. Munoff, and Margery S. Long. Administration of Photographic Collections. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1984.

Robl, Ernest H. Organizing Your Photographs. New York: Amphoto, 1986.

Schultz, John and Barbara. Picture Research: A Practical Guide. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1991.

Shatford, Sara. "Analyzing the Subject of a Picture: A Theoretical Approach." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 6 (Spring 1986): 39-62.

Zinkham, Helena, Patricia D. Cloud, and Hope Mayo. "Providing Access by Form of Material, Genre, and Physical Characteristics: Benefits and Techniques." American Archivist 52 (Summer 1989): 300-319.


Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. 2nd ed., 1988 rev. Chicago: American Library Association, 1988.

Art & Architecture Thesaurus. 2nd ed. 5 vol. New York: Oxford University Press, on behalf of The Getty Art History Information Program, 1994.

Library of Congress. Library of Congress Rule Interpretations. 2nd ed. 1991- . Washington, D.C.: Cataloging Distribution Service, 1991-. 2 vol. ** Note: A cumulative list of currently valid LCRIs for the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed., 1988 rev. is available on the World Wide Web.

Library of Congress. Library of Congress Subject Headings. 20th ed. 1997. 4 vol. Washington, D.C.: Cataloging Distribution Service, 1997, ** Note: The Subject Headings Weekly Lists, weekly lists of new and changed subject headings, is available on the World Wide Web.

Library of Congress. Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: Cataloging Distribution Service, 1996. **

Library of Congress. USMARC Format for Bibliographic Data. 2 vol. Washington, D.C.: Cataloging Distribution Service, 1994. **

Library of Congress. USMARC Format for Authority Data. Washington, D.C.: Cataloging Distribution Service , 1993. **

Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division. Thesaurus for Graphic Materials. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Cataloging Distribution Service, 1995. ** Note: Two parts in one volume. Part I is entitled TGM I: Subject Headings. Part II is entitled TGM II: Genre and Physical Characteristic Terms. Also available on the World Wide Web.

Parker, Elisabeth Betz, comp. Graphic Materials: Rules for Describing Original Items and Historical Collections. Washington. D.C.: Library of Congress, 1982. ** Version updated August 1996 available on Cataloger's Desktop a CD-Rom issued quarterly by the Cataloging Distribution Service.

** available from LC Cataloging Distribution Service, Washington, D.C. 20541-5017.

Baseball Cards Home Page

am Sept-28-98