May 25, 2022

Metadata: New Cataloging Guidelines for Pictures Now Available in Online Publication

Note: The following news release was posted by the Library of Congress today.

The document that’s described and linked was released in September 2013.

From LC:

The Library of Congress and the Association of College and Research Libraries have updated the cataloging guidelines for describing pictures, and they are now available in a free, online book, “Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics).”

The guidelines cover still images of all types:  photographs, prints, drawings, born-digital pictures, book illustrations, posters, postcards, cartoons, comic strips, advertisements, portraits, landscape, architectural drawings, bookplates and more.  Instructions for capturing core metadata elements—the titles, creators, dates, publishers, and media of pictures—are provided as well as helpful wording for explanatory notes.

Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics) or DCRM(G) is available online as a free PDF at 

and as a hypertext document on “Cataloger’s Desktop,”

DCRM(G) can be used for graphic materials of any age or type of production, published or unpublished, especially when special treatment is useful because of fragility, rarity and enduring value or aesthetic, iconographical and documentary interest.

The book is a direct successor to Elisabeth Betz Parker’s “Graphic Materials: Rules for Describing Original Items and Historical Collections,” published by the Library of Congress in 1982.  Known to many simply as “Betz” or “The Yellow Book,” the first “Graphic Materials” became a classic.

The new guidelines make records easier for a wide range of users to understand and, for published material, easier for libraries to share.  For convenience, advice about cataloging unpublished groups of materials and collections is now gathered into a single appendix.  In recognition of a wide audience wanting access to graphic materials, DCRM(G) also makes increased use of such everyday language as “publisher not identified” instea

The guidelines were written by the Bibliographic Standards Committee of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Policy and Standards Division of the Library of Congress.  They were published by the Association of College and Research Libraries.


Instructions on using DCRM(G) will be offered through conference workshops.  In addition to many examples in the book itself, a separate document of annotated and MARC-encoded examples is forthcoming.  Questions can also be submitted at any time to DCRM-L, a users group at

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.