Chapter 1 : Object Naming (Work
The Work Type and Title elements both provide fundamental
ways to refer to a work. Determining how to refer to
a work is part of the first critical decision in the
cataloging process: defining what is being cataloged.
See Part 1: What Are You Cataloging?
The Work Type element identifies the kind of work
or works being described. Work Type typically refers
to a work's physical form, function, or medium (for
example, sculpture, altarpiece, cathedral, storage
jar, painting, etching). In this context, works
are built works, visual art works, or cultural artifacts,
including architecture, paintings, sculptures, drawings,
prints, photographs, furniture, ceramics, costume, other
decorative or utilitarian works, performance art, installations,
or any other of thousands of types of artistic creations
or cultural remains. See the definition in Part 1: Works
The Work Type establishes the logical focus of the
catalog record, whether it is a single item, a work
made up of several parts, or a physical group or collection
of works. When a part of a work of art or architecture
is important enough to require its own record, the Work
Type should accurately describe the part being cataloged,
and the cataloger should link the record for the part
to a record for the whole work. For example, if you
are cataloging a teacup that is part of a tea service,
the Work Type element for the cup should be teacup;
this record should be linked to a record for the whole
tea set in which the Work Type could be tea service.
It is often helpful to create separate records for the
parts of a work when the parts have significantly different
characteristics, including separate artists, dates of
execution, styles, materials, or physical locations.
For example, given that the dome of Santa Maria del
Fiore in Florence was executed as a separate project
from the church itself, the church could have Work Types
of basilica and cathedral, and the dome
could have a separate record with the Work Type dome.
The focus of the record may also vary depending upon
local practice and/or circumstances surrounding the
history of the work. See Whole-Part Relationships and
Components below and Part 1: Related Works for further
The Work Type element is often displayed with the Class
element. The Work Type term is intended to identify
the work that is the focus of the catalog record, whereas
Class refers to broad categories or a classification
scheme that groups works together on the basis of shared
characteristics, including materials, form, shape, function,
region of origin, cultural context, or historical or
stylistic period. For further discussion of class, see
Chapter 7: Class.
The Title element records the titles, identifying phrases,
or names given to a work of art or architecture. It
may be used for various kinds of titles or names. Titles
may be descriptive phrases that refer to the iconographical
subject or theme of the art work, such as Adoration
of the Magi or Portrait of Thomas Jefferson.
They may also record the identifying phrases or names
given to works that do not have a title per se. Such
names may repeat information recorded elsewhere in the
record, such as the Work Type (for example, Ceramic
Bowl) or the dedication or name of a building (for
example, Mosque of Sultan Ahmed I).
Works are given titles, names, or identifying phrases
to identify and refer to them. One of the differences
between a book or article title and a title for many
works of art is that printed books and journal articles
generally have an inscribed title as part of the thing
itself. Catalogers transcribe the inscribed title and
use it as a heading to facilitate access. For works
of art and architecture, there is often nothing inherent
in the work itself that tells the cataloger how to title
Titles may come from various sources. Titles for works
are typically assigned by artists, owning institutions,
collectors, or scholars. Titles or names for architecture
may come from the company that had the building constructed,
the architect, or the owner or patron. Titles for well-known
works commonly become authoritative through publications
and scholarship (for example, Mona Lisa). However,
many works, including utilitarian works, decorative
art, cultural artifacts, maps, diagrams, archaeological
works, ethnographic materials, and some buildings, do
not have titles or names per se. For these works, a
descriptive title should be constructed to facilitate
identification by users. A visual resources collection
may have to construct titles when there is no repository-supplied
title for a work.
Construct titles when necessary. Titles may be derived
from their subject content or iconography. For instance,
a photograph that depicts a tree in a landscape might
be titled Landscape with Tree. In composing a
title or identifying phrase, it may be necessary to
repeat terminology from other elements. Titles may include
references to the owners of works or the places where
they were used (for example, Burghley Bowl).
Descriptive titles or identifying phrases may be simple
descriptions of the work (for example, Lidded Bowl
on Stand). Decorative works, non-Western art, archaeological
works, or groups of works are often known by a name
that includes or is identical to the Work Type (for
example, Chandelier, Rolltop Desk, Mask,
or Portfolio of Sketches). Work Type terminology
may be used in combination with information from location
or other elements to form a title (for example, Reliquary
Cross of Bishop Bernward).
All significant titles or names by which a work is
or has been known should be recorded. Works of art or
architecture may be known by many different titles or
names; titles may change throughout history. It is useful
for researchers to know the alternate and former titles,
names, or identifying phrases for the work.
Including a Title Type provides a way to distinguish
between the various types of titles (for example, repository
title, inscribed title, creator's title, descriptive
Work Type should be a term that most closely characterizes
the work. Using the most specific, appropriate term
is recommended. The focus of the collection and expertise
of the users should be considered. For example, is the
specific term cassone or the more general term
chest appropriate? Should the cataloger use canopic
jar or container? Scroll painting
or painting? Engraving or print?
Keep in mind that Work Type will often be displayed
with Class, which is a broad term (for example, for
a cassone, the Class could be furniture).
See Chapter 7: Class. More than one Work Type may be
recorded. For example, both church and basilica
may be Work Types for a building, noting both its function
and its form.
Titles should generally be concise and specific to
the work. A preferred descriptive title should be concise
(for example, from the National Gallery of Art in Washington,
Maiolica Plate with Profile Bust), but an alternate
title may include more details (for example, Maiolica
Plate with Running Plant Border, Geometric Panels, and
Profile Bust of a Man in Armor).
Organization of the Data
Work Type is required and should be recorded in a
repeatable controlled field. If multiple Work Types
are recorded, one should be flagged as preferred. Work
Type terminology should be controlled by an authority
file or controlled list. See Part 3: Concept Authority
for discussion of an authority file that could control
the Work Type terms.
Title is also required and should also be a repeatable
free-text field. As with Work Type, if multiple Titles
are recorded, one should be noted as preferred. If Title
Type is used, it should be derived from controlled terminology.
For most institutions, Title and Work Type will not
be adequate to uniquely identify a work. A unique numeric
or alphanumeric code-for example, an accession number
or identification number-is usually created for that
purpose by the owner of the work. See Chapter 5 for
a discussion of unique identification numbers.
Whole-Part Relationships and Components
Many works of art and architecture are complex works
and comprise several parts. Examples include a page
from a manuscript, a photograph from an album, a fresco
from a cycle, a print in a series, or a church within
a monastery. When parts and the whole are cataloged
separately, they should be linked. That is, the parts
of a work or group may have a hierarchical relationship
to the whole. For example, a 16th-century illumination
titled Christ Led Before Pilate may be part of
the whole Prayer Book of Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg.
The creation of whole-part relationships has implications
regarding the assignment of Work Type and Title for
the work. The Work Type and Title of the whole are important
for the retrieval of the part; these data values for
the whole should be visible in displays of the record
for the part.
For further discussion of Work Type, how to catalog
the components of a work, and item and group level catalog
records, see Part 1: Related Works in this manual and
Categories for the Description of Works of Art: Object/Work.
A list of the elements discussed in this chapter appears
below. Required elements are noted.
Work Type (required)