SPEC Kit 333: Art & Artifact Management  · 97
Library of Congress
Common and Useful Information Elements for Cataloging Pictorial Materials
p. 1 of 3
Common and Useful Information Elements for Cataloging Pictorial Materials
Compiled by Helena Zinkham, June 2004
Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4730
The following ideas come from both formal cataloging standards and from practical experience with large
collections as well as single images in digital imaging projects. Published guidelines, such as Graphic Materials
(GM) and Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), should be consulted for more detailed advice. The
“Tips for Useful Description of Pictures” (on the last page) explains why some information elements are
especially important for visual materials.
Common Elements for Description & Cataloging
The information elements are equally applicable to catalog records and
finding aids. The elements appear in most encoding schemes (although
the data name differs), including MARC21, Dublin Core, and EAD.
The collection-level example is for a fictional group of photographs.
The item-level example uses a real photograph (shown at right)
associated for teaching purposes with the fictional collection.
Element(s) Collection-Level Example Item-Level Example
Creator names
& roles (access
points and notes)
South, Cole, collector.
Askew, Thomas, 1850?–1914,
Van Vechten, Carl, 1880–1964,
Includes works by many different
photographers, with numerous
images by Thomas Askew and
Carl Van Vechten.
Unidentified photographic studio in
Detroit, Michigan.
Administrative /
biographical history
Cole South began assembling this
collection in the 1970s to visually
document African American
history, life, and culture for the
bicentennial celebrations in 1976.
(not used for this example)
Cole South collection of African
American history photographs.
Portrait photo of Sojourner Truth.
Date 1850–1975, bulk 1860–1930. 1864.
Extent & physical
circa 600 photographs.
1 photographic print on carte de visite
mount; 4 x 2.5 in.
Reference code US-AkAX-PH100 US-AkAX-PH100.22.3
Repository name &
ABC Archives, Anchorage,
Alaska, US
ABC Archives, Anchorage, Alaska, US
Level of description Collection Item
Source: Library of Congress, Prints &
Photographs Division, LC-USZC4-6165
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