As part of the continuing effort to simplify cataloging and as part of the ongoing changes associated with the recommendations of the Airlie House conference on subject subdivisions, the Library of Congress is considering several revisions in cataloging practice for works in the field of art. The Library invites comments on the following changes that are being considered.

Change in assignment of headings for time period.

Current instructions in the Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings, H 1250, sec.1.c require that a heading with period qualifier and/or chronological subdivision be assigned even when other types of headings assigned to the work imply particular centuries. For example, Drawing--20th century is currently assigned even when the heading Drawing, Cubist is already assigned. The revised instruction would eliminate the requirement for the chronological subject heading if the other headings assigned already imply a specific time period. The revised practice would correspond to general subject cataloging instructions relating to specificity of headings.

Change in formulation of headings with chronological subdivisions.

Currently art subject headings with chronological subdivision are constructed with subdivisions in the order [art form]--[chronological subdivision]--[geographic subdivision(s)], e.g. Drawing--20th century--France; Sculpture, Modern--19th century--Italy--Rome. This order is contrary to the recommended order resulting from the recommendations of the Airlie House conference and differs from the order of subdivisions in other disciplines. Art subject headings with national or ethnic qualifiers, e.g. Painting, German, do not currently have chronological subdivisions. The Library is proposing the following changes in the formulation of art subject headings with chronological subdivision.

  1. Headings such as Art, Ancient; Painting, Medieval; Sculpture, Modern; Drawing--20th century would no longer be divided geographically. These headings would now be used primarily for general works not limited to a specific place.

  2. Chronological subdivisions would be used after headings with national or ethnic qualifiers and geographic subdivision(s) will be included in the same subject heading string. Previous practice required the use of two subject headings: Art, French--France--Paris, in combination with Art, Modern--20th century--France--Paris. The new practice would result in a single heading: Art, French--France--Paris--20th century. This practice follows that of music subject headings and places the subdivisions in the recommended order. The combination of place and time in the same subject string would also be applied to headings for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean art, although the special chronological subdivisions for those countries would continue to be used.

  3. A list of free-floating subdivisions would be developed for art headings and added to the Subject Cataloging Manual. This list would include a set of free-floating chronological subdivisions for use with art headings. The chronological subdivisions currently used under Art, Chinese; Art, Japanese; and Art, Korean would be made free-floating for other art headings with qualifiers Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. For other countries, the free-floating set of chronological subdivisions would be --To 500; --500- 1500; --16th century ; --17th century ; --18th century ; --19th century ; --20th century . Subdivisions for other time periods could be separately established as needed. The existing subdivision --17th-18th centuries would be cancelled.

  4. Headings for architecture would be revised to follow the practice of art subject headings. Headings such as Architecture--United States--20th century would replace Architecture, Modern--20th century--United States .

The Library of Congress recognizes that the above changes will have a major impact on users of Library of Congress subject headings. We invite comments on this proposal from the user community. Please address your comments to:

Thompson A. Yee
Acting Chief, Cataloging Policy and Support Office
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4305
EMAIL: [email protected]
FAX: (202) 707-6629

Comments should reach the Cataloging Policy and Support Office no later than December 31, 1999.

Go to:
Library of Congress
Library of Congress Help Desk (08/09/99)