Birren Collection (Haas Arts Library) Catalog Processing Notes

  1. Scope. This special collection is dedicated to color. It is not restricted to art, but includes any topic where color is involved, including paint, optics, philosophy, dyes and dyeing, design, marketing, psychology, etc. In some cases the relationship to color may simply be specimens of color printing. The range of LCSH color terms is unfortunately rather limited. Sometimes Getty and other thesauri can be helpful additions.
  2. Treatment of physical items. Items may be fragile and valuable. Handle with care and don’t leave them exposed to damage. Make sure your hands are clean when handling and keep items well away from liquids or other things that may spill. If a barcode label is on a strip or envelope, do not transfer it to the front cover or anywhere else on an item. Washing of hands after cataloging/processing is also recommended since many of the color samples are lead-based paint.
  3. In process records. When working with cataloging copy, review for correct application of rules or finding possible errors, e.g. an added entry that duplicates the main entry, a subject heading for the book artist who created an artists' book, etc. Never assume that the subjects are LCSH or that the headings are the established forms or represent the entity associated with the resource. Local Yale notes in 590 and subject tracings in 69X should always be retained but may be edited for clarity. Add local notes for Birren copies if needed. Art acquisitions staff may have added vendor notes or other information to downloaded copy, which may need to be phrased more objectively or edited in other ways.
  4. Shipping. Birren items bypass Preparations. ALSC will notify the Birren materials cataloger when a tote is ready for delivery to the TS-344 Shipping Room. Notify ALSC when the tote has been received. The same tote will later be used to return the items. When ready to return a tote to ALSC, carefully pack the items, using enough filler to make sure the fragile items don’t move around. Use plastic, numbered seal ties provided by ALSC to lock the top flaps closed. Contact ALSC, providing tote and seal tie numbers, and ask them to schedule the transfer of tote from TS-344 Shipping Room to ALSC.
  5. RDA, DCRM, etc. Follow RDA/LC PCC PS for original cataloging description and access. At least one subject that relates to color should be specified in the bibliographic record, even if you wouldn't have normally included it if you weren't cataloging for the Birren Collection. Sometimes this could be simply "Color" or Colors". This is a requirement for both original and copy cataloging. Cataloging copy from OCLC using DCRM is accepted. Member copy cataloging under AACR2 or pre-AACR2 rules is accepted as is if it is adequate. If recataloging is necessary for inadequate copy, recatalog to RDA. Under current OCLC guidelines, catalogers have the option to update any non-RDA record to RDA. Add 590 local notes and 69X local subject access points when needed. If cataloging from copy with Beinecke local notes, the Beinecke local notes are always to be given first.
  6. Publication date. Resources to be cataloged include large numbers of ephemera, such as catalogs or circulars of products related to color. A problem with many of these is lack of a publication date. Sometimes the history of the company offers a clue for determining date range. Dates are sometimes hidden or implied in the company’s control number for the catalog. A date range can sometimes be determined from information about the company recorded in the NARs. If the company still exists, it may have its history on its website (also helpful for the order and dating of name changes & other significant dates). Don’t rule out Wikipedia, which sometimes has articles on quite obscure small businesses.
  7. Vendor, publisher, and creator descriptions. Nothing is more useful when cataloging artists' books and other art works than a description of the item by a vendor, publisher or artist. If ALSC has any of these, they should provide the information with the item, since a lot of time will be saved in entering descriptive details in the bibliographic record. If none have been provided, search online to see if the information is available. If vendor notes are used, be sure to take out the advertising elements. If the vendor provides page numbering of unnumbered pages, take advantage, but only use vendor supplied dates as a last resort. Descriptions provided by ALSC should be included when returning items. 
  8. Carrier. Be familiar with the RDA rules for sheets, since a lot of the advertising ephemera will be in that form. Don’t forget to use “sheet” in $a of 338 rather than "volume." RDA specifies that if "folded" sheet is in extent (300 $a), it means that the item is to be read in its folded form, so you need to include the page count as a subunit qualifier, e.g. 300 $a 1 folded sheet (30 unnumbered pages) ; $c 16 cm. Dimensions should be height only. If, on the other hand, the folded sheet is intended to be read unfolded, extent should be X sheet(s) without "folded" and without a parenthetical subunit count. Instead, dimensions should be height x width folded to height x width: 300 $a 1 sheet ; $c 32 x 20 cm folded to 16 x 10 cm. AACR2 usually has a comma preceding "folded" in $c; RDA does not.
  9. Corporate and personal name NARs & RDA. Cataloging Birren materials may involve extensive use and assignment of corporate body AAPs, since many of the items are catalogs of companies. Many of these bodies will need to be established as RDA or updated to RDA. Fortunately, most of the AACR2 NARs are RDA compliant, so it is just a matter of changing the coding to z and inserting $e rda in 040. The same corporate body will often be needed for multiple items, so take the time to update the NAR to RDA or establish the new name if possible. Some personal names for older material are functionally undifferentiated in the OCLC database (same name used for different people on bibliographic records, but no NAR). Use the greater flexibility of RDA qualifiers to establish the AAP for your personal name authority record. If the name has been established as undifferentiated, a NAR must be created with additions to the name for differentiation, and the citation for the person must be removed from the undifferentiated name authority record.
  10. Classification is always LCC. Several frequently used LCC numbers related to color, especially in ND, are obsolete, so be careful about basing your 050 _4 on older items in Orbis. We follow LC Shelflisting Guidelines. For corporate main entry, the main entry cutter is supposed to stay the same for all records entered under the corporate body; do not tweak the Cutter to accommodate different works entered under the same body. There has been some inconsistency in the application of this rule; if more than one Cutter was used, choose the predominant one. Also, the Cutter used for the company is also used for subordinate units of the body when the subordinate unit is the main entry. Use a truncated call number search to determine the Cutter used for the corporate body locally. For multiple works published in the same year, add a work letter to the date to break the conflict; lower case in 050 _4, upper case in 852. Example: Sherwin Williams Company catalogs under TP937.S55. If a new corporate Cutter needs to be created, the number should be in the correct shelflist order. (This is exceptional for local policy only because the collection commonly will own multiple works entered under the same corporate body).
  11. Outsourcing to non-Latin script cataloging. There are a lot of East Asian (primarily Japanese) color-related publications. These items should be distributed to catalogers with CJK expertise for cataloging. Ask the catalogers to return items to you so you can include them when the tote of cataloged items is shipped back to ALSC.
  12. Guidelines and examples for cataloging some commonly encountered Birren Collection items.
    • The Birren Collection will often add offprints of articles. For guidelines on cataloging offprints, see the OCLC guidelines for cataloging OffPrints and Detached Copies.
    • A fair number of three-dimensional artifacts have been acquired for the Birren Collection. For some Birren cataloging examples, see: Historia de los colores by Capretti [an embroidery picture] and Michel Eugène Chevreul, membre l'academie des sciences [a medal].
    • Paint chip samples. When recording content type in the 336 field, if the resource is basically a color card or sheet with paint samples, use your judgment as to whether to code the paint samples as "still image" or "other". Often when the resource is considered to be a sheet, "text" is used in 336, sometimes without a second 336 for the samples--the paint chips are considered to be secondary illustrations. A frequent example of subjects for a paint catalog would be: Corporate name--Catalogs; Paint--Catalogs; Colors.

(Created Nov. 2013; revised January 2021)

Last modified: 
Thursday, August 5, 2021 - 12:40pm