PROPOSAL NO.: 2005-06

DATE: May 27, 2005


NAME: Addition of Subfields for Relator Terms/Codes for Subject Access to Images

SOURCE: Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) and Visual Resources Association

SUMMARY: This paper proposes defining subfield $e in fields 630 and 651 and subfield $4 in fields 630, 650, and 651 in order to use relator codes and terms to enhance the retrieval of visual materials.

KEYWORDS: Subject Added Entries (BD); Field 6XX (BD); Visual Materials (BD); Field 630; Subject Added Entry - Uniform Title (BD); Field 650; Subject Added Entry - Topical Term (BD); Field 651; Subject Added Entry - Geographic Name (BD)

RELATED: 2005-DP01 (Jan. 2005)

STATUS/COMMENTS: 05/27/05 - Made available to the MARC 21 community for discussion.

06/26/05 - Results of the MARC Advisory Committee discussion - Approved as amended. Consider defining a relator term subfield in field 611. Subfields $e (Relator term) and $4 (Relator code) will be added to fields 651 and 654. The definition of "depicted" needs to be revised since it now states that it is only a person or organization. Other relator terms/codes that are needed should be considered and submitted as appropriate.

10/12/05 - Results of LC/LAC/BL review - Approved

Proposal No. 2005-06: Addition of Subfields for Relator Terms/Codes for Subject Access to Images


Subject access is an important means of retrieving images and searching by subject is probably the most popular technique for locating images. Some MARC 21 users have expressed a need for a mechanism enhancing users' ability to search for visual materials.

Discussion Paper No. 2005-DP01 (Subject Access to Images) was presented for review and discussion in January 2005. The paper discussed how, when providing access points, visual materials cataloging focuses on "of-ness" as well as "about-ness." The paper also described various search strategies for retrieving visual materials, including searching by the material type encoded in the Leader and/or by values in the 006 or 007; searching by keywords or subject; and searching using terms indicating pictorial content such as "Pictorial works," "Landscape photographs," and "Portraits." The paper listed some of the drawbacks inherent in these strategies, including ambiguous results, false hits, and incomplete results due to failure to search on all possible terms.

One of the strategies suggested in the paper by the Art Libraries Society to enhance retrieval was the use of indexing vocabulary to flag pictorial content and differentiate between "of-ness" and "about-ness." in visual images.

In the January 2005 discussion at the MARC Advisory Committee meetings, a straw poll showed that many people supported the use of relator codes and terms to distinguish between indexing terms for intellectual content and indexing terms for visual depictions. This would entail defining subfield $e in fields 630 (Subject Added Entry - Uniform Title) and 651 (Subject Added Entry - Geographic Name) and subfield $4 in fields 630 (Subject Added Entry -Uniform Title), 650 (Subject Added Entry - Topical Term), and 651 (Subject Added Entry - Geographic Name).


2.1 Using relator codes or terms in MARC 21 subject fields.

As noted in the introduction, there are some drawbacks to a vocabulary-based search strategy. The use of relator terms and codes is appealing because it would facilitate the retrieve of images and have a minimal affect on heading validation. Relator terms already exist in many 6XX subject fields and seem to be a practical method to allow for the designation of visual images as well as various aspects of visual images in subject index displays.

One relator term/code that could be used, "depicted," has already been defined that indicates "of-ness." Definition of other codes would further differentiate between "about-ness" and "of-ness." and bring out additional aspects, including the symbolic nature of some images.

Usage of this technique would be discretionary, not mandated. It is expected that usage would vary and depend on individual institutions' needs. Some users might want to use the technique extensively if catalog records for visual images formed part of an integrated catalog containing records for a variety of different material types. Others might use it on a limited basis to flag specific characteristics of images, such as their symbolic aspect. Other users might choose not to use the technique at all.

The following 6XX subject fields already have a subfield $e and/or a subfield $4 defined:

The following fields would need to have either subfield $e and/or a subfield $4 defined:

A relator code in subfield $e can not be defined for field 611 (Subject Added Entry - Meeting Name). Subfield $e has already been assigned for another purpose.



In the MARC 21 Bibliographic format:

Question: Are codes other than "depicted" needed?

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