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Graphic Materials

Graphic Materials: Rules for Describing Original Items and Historical Collections was compiled by Elisabeth Betz Parker in 1982 to provide guidelines for cataloging a wide variety of visual materials from photographic prints, negatives, and albums to posters, cartoons, popular and fine prints, and architectural drawings.  These rules are a national standard supplement to Chapter 8 of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, which focuses on modern, published audiovisual materials.

For groups of pictures as well as individual items, the guidelines cover transcribing and devising titles; stating creators, producers, and dates; expressing quantities, media, and dimensions; and writing subject, user advisory, and other kinds of notes.  There are also sample catalog records, a glossary, and an index. 

Second Edition is Underway

In 2008, the ACRL/RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee agreed to develop a second edition of Graphic Materials as part of the Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials suite. It will provisionally be known as "Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics)," or DCRM(G). The Library of Congress Cataloging Policy and Support Office (CPSO) has expressed support of this change. A preliminary team is now comparing "Graphic Materials" and DCRM(B) point for point, noting differences and similarities. This work-in-progress can be seen at

The goal is to have a full comparison in place by June 2008, in time for the Bibliographic Standards Committee to name an editorial team at the ALA 2008 Annual Conference. The preliminary team consists of: Erin Blake (Curator of Art & Special Collections, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC), Mary Mundy (Cataloger, Pictorial Collections, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress), and Helena Zinkham (Acting Chief, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress). If you would like to volunteer for, or nominate someone to, the DCRM(G) editorial team, please contact Erin Blake <> or Randal Brandt <>.

Graphic Materials is available in several formats. There are cumulated update versions (1997) as well as separate update pages to supplement the 1982 printed volume with examples in MARC content designation.

(Note: You must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to view and print the PDF files. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is available for free from Adobe Systems Incorporated.)

  • Adobe Acrobat PDF File  (1997 version; ca. 3.3 MB; 174 pages)
  • Word Processing files:
  • Update Pages in Adobe Acrobat PDF file (1996-1997; optional, additional rules for expressing dates and physical description; terminology that conforms with terms in the 1995 edition of the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (e.g,. negatives instead of photonegatives); a concordance for MARC fields; and eleven new examples of cataloging with MARC codes; ca. 150 KB; 30 p.).
  • Cataloger's Desktop (1997 version; published by the Cataloging Distribution Service, Library of Congress)

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  February 22, 2008
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