Rare Book School

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L-40. Visual Materials Cataloging

Helena Zinkham

Need help with “hidden collections”? This course is intended for librarians and archivists who want to make photographs and prints available and useful to researchers. The cataloging techniques cover entire collections as well as single items through national standards that accommodate different levels of detail from basic to premium. Specific topics include: description and subject indexing; form and genre access; the relationship between physical processing and cataloging; and establishing institutional priorities.

The core guidelines worked with are Graphic Materials and Describing Archives: A Content Standard. The subject indexing tools are the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials, the Library of Congress Subject Headings, and the Art & Architecture Thesaurus. The class will make a full day field trip to the Library of Congress to work with the Prints and Photographs Division collections and specialists.

Applicants should give a brief description of their experience cataloging rare and archival materials, their current duties with regard to visual materials, and the types of materials they expect to catalog. They are also encouraged to mention specific problems they have encountered, as well as any particular expectations they have for the course.

Course Resources

Course History


Helena Zinkham has taught this course since 1998.


This course is taught by Jackie Dooley.