Weekly response post – Eugene Rutigliano

The Opening Artists’ Books to the User article is a useful introduction to the issues facing special collections librarians. Artists’ books are vexing to catalogue for the same reason that they are valuable as creative objects: they operate sort of orthogonally between two hazy, overlapping spheres of media, visual art and text. The effort to create entries for artists’ books exposes some of the biases in traditional cataloging, notably the distinction made between ‘aboutness’ data and ‘materiality’ data. These books are often as much about their form as anything else. For this reason, I tend to agree with Myers and Myers about taking the more exhaustive approach to creating the record. However, when I see a line of additional ‘Notes’ entries in a record, my eyes have been trained by years of scanning to skip ahead.  I don’t think that the content of the fields used in the Alpha to omega example are irrelevant, but maybe a sub-element can be used to alert users to the significance of the fields. Also, I would expect that visual documentation of artists’ books, collected in a local database would be as important as any additional notes.

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