SPEC Kit 333: Art &Artifact Management · 15
for both art and artifact collections, with about 60%
selecting this tool and 30% selecting spreadsheets, the
next highest. They are much less likely to use MARC
records than the other categories, with only 33% use
rate for art objects and 25% for artifact materials.
Collections of 500–1000 objects are far more likely
to use databases developed and maintained by the
library, with over 60% of collections this size using
this tool.
Collections of 1,000–5,000 or 5,000–25,000 are most
likely to use finding aids for either art or artifact col-
lections, with over 80% with this size of collection
indicating they use this tool. This compares to 77%
use rate by larger collections and approximately 65%
use rate by smaller collections. They are also most
likely to use MARC records, with 79% of art collec-
tions this size represented in MARC records and 73%
of artifact collections. For larger collections, the use
rate dropped slightly to 67% and 59% respectively.
Collections of over 25,000 objects showed dif-
ferences in treatment by types. For art objects, very
large collections are even more likely to use a local
database, with a 78% use rate. However, for artifact
collections, institutions with very large collections
have a significantly lower use rate of 41% for local
databases. Instead, 77% of collections this size were
managed with finding aids.
Museum Standards and Practices
Given that works of art and artifacts are tradition-
ally the purview of museums, the survey designers
wanted to determine if libraries had adopted museum
collection management practices when cataloging
them. Although we have seen that management prac-
tices vary widely, there seem to be minimal signs of
libraries and archives consistently embracing standard
museum practices in terms of how they manage art
and artifacts.
In museum collection management, it is standard
practice for each item (artwork or artifact) to be cata-
loged separately and to have a unique number, usu-
ally an accession number.7 Slightly more than half of
the respondents to this survey said that they routinely
separate art objects (59%) and artifacts (56%) from
collections of books or archival materials for pur-
poses of arrangement and description. However, only
25% always give art objects a unique number while
only 21% do so for artifacts. The most popular type
of numbering system for both art and artifacts is an
archival identifier, such as a series, box, or folder num-
ber (61% for art and 66% for artifacts). Given that 46%
of respondents indicated archives as their primary
holdings and all respondents reported having some
archival holdings, it makes sense that this approach
is the most widely used. Accession numbers were
the second most popular in both categories—more
libraries use them for artifacts (64%) than for art (59%).
Local numbering systems were also quite prevalent,
with 54% employing them for managing art and 60%
for artifacts.
Also notable is the number of special collections
using more than one numbering system. Of the 33 in-
stitution using museum accession numbering for art,
only five do so exclusively. Similarly, only four of 37
institutions using museum accession numbering for
artifacts use only that numbering approach. Archival
identifiers and local numbering were most commonly
cited as the additional numbering practices in use.
This finding is one of many that suggest that libraries
are not managing all their art and artifact collections
Only 9% of the respondents report they use
Cataloging Cultural Objects, a data content standard
developed for the museum and visual resources com-
munity, for art objects and only 7% use it for artifacts.
Similarly, only 11% use the Getty Union List of Names,
also developed by and for the museum communi-
ty, for art and only 9% for artifacts. The Getty Art
&Architecture Thesaurus enjoys more widespread
use: 35% of respondents use it to describe artifacts
and 33% for art.
Instead, the institutions responding to this survey
are looking to familiar standards for description of art
and artifact collections. Describing Archives: A Content
Standard (DACS) is the most widely used 47% report
applying it to art and 60% to artifacts. Anglo-American
Cataloging Rules, 2nd edition (AACR2) is used as the
descriptive standard by 46% of respondents for art
and 50% for artifacts.
The museum community has less mature meta-
data standards, particularly for encoding, than the li-
brary community. Not surprisingly, survey responses
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