Here are some artist's book I have cataloged in AACR2. Some were more booklike than others, so I used Book format for them, and other formats for others. It depends on how "booklike" the books were. 

702120037, 709777809 (a wire sculpture of a tree with words on the leaves), 698447445, 699825798 

The Cleveland Institute of Art requires freshman to create a "book." This is so loosely interpreted that I just can not accept some of the items as books. They define book as pretty much anything that conveys information. One that I saw was a set of  sculptures of a hand giving the numbers 1-10 in American Sign Laguage, another was a turtle shell full of dreamcatchers. Someone I know made clay casts of the letters of the alphabet. 

Good luck! I find cataloging unique items like you have there to be the most fun part of the job! 

Dawn Grattino 
Senior Cataloger 
Catalog Department 
Cleveland Public Library 
17133 Lakeshore Blvd. 
Cleveland, OH 44110-4006 
(phone) 216.623.2885 
(fax)   216.623.6980 
e-mail: [log in to unmask] 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Linda Barnhart" <[log in to unmask]> 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 12:44:46 PM 
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] What format to catalog this "artist's book" in? 

Forwarding on behalf of Aislinn Sotelo: 
I was going to also point to the RBMS controlled vocabularies to look up the scope note for “Artists’ books” . 
We have a large collection of artists’ books at UC San Diego and I actually cataloged one of Daniel Essig’s books not too long ago. On Essig’s website, he refers to his works as books, so that’s how I cataloged it: . What constitutes an artists’ book is not always straight forward despite much written on this subject. See the first chapter of Johanna Drucker’s The Century of Artists' Books, “The Artist’s Book as Idea and From.” 
When I’m cataloging I generally look at the creator’s intent for the object, not the presence of text or any other specific characteristic to determine whether something be considered a book or realia. And, I usually think of realia that ends up in the library as more like three-dimensional ephemera. It’s not scientific, but it usually works for me. 
If I were cataloging this in RDA in OCLC, I would catalog this on a book workform with the following RDA content, media, and carrier types. 
336  three-dimensional form ǂb tdf ǂ2 rdacontent 
337  unmediated ǂb n ǂ2 rdamedia 
338  volume ǂb nc ǂ2 rdacarrier 
I hope this helps! You may also want to post this question to DCRM-L (Descriptive Cataloging for Rare Materials- List) 

Aislinn Catherine Sotelo 
Coordinator of Technical Services, Mandeville Special Collections, The Library | UC San Diego | ( 858-534-6766 | * [log in to unmask]   
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [ mailto:[log in to unmask] ] On Behalf Of Randal S. BRANDT 
Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013 3:38 PM 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] What format to catalog this "artist's book" in? 

While this probably won't help in your format decision, remember that the RBMS Controlled Vocabularies include a genre term for "Unique books": 


A search of OCLC on that term brings up 112 records in Books format and 13 records in Visual Materials format (along with 1 record in Textual Serials!). Maybe some of those examples will help. 


Randal Brandt 

The Bancroft Library 


On Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 2:56 PM, Wilson, Pete < [log in to unmask] > wrote: 

Thanks.  I would definitely have cataloged that example as a book, given that some of the sheets had text and there was actually an edition, rather than one unique item. 
I have the biggest problem with items that are one of a kind (produced in “editions” of 1) and those that don’t really include any representational content.  Both of these things were true of the sculpted bird assemblage described below, and since it looked like a sculpture with a tiny fake book hanging from it, not a book, I felt pretty good about cataloging it as realia.  The totally empty “book” I originally asked the question about is tougher, since it certainly is in the form of a book.  I just can’t help thinking it is no more a book than a sculpture of a squirrel is an actual squirrel.  If the book holds no representational content, is it really a book?  I had to catalog a “book” that was eight tiny scrolls in a box made to look like a cigarette box.  It certainly doesn’t look like a book but the scrolls do hold texts—that definitely seems to me to qualify it as a book, by the loose standards of artist’s bookery, and I cataloged the thing in books format.  But Daniel Essig’s construction seems like a representation of a book rather than an actual book.  It seems to me a tough one. 
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto: [log in to unmask] ] On Behalf Of Christine DeZelar-Tiedman 
Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013 4:41 PM 

To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] What format to catalog this "artist's book" in? 


We collect a lot of artists' books here, and I've been struggling a bit, too, with how to treat them in RDA. If they at least bear some resemblance to a book I've been leaning toward cataloging them as books, and using 33x's to  bring out the other aspects. If I had something that was more in realia form I might decide otherwise, but the general convention for cataloging artists' books is to treat them as "books".  


See OCLC 829388336 for a recent example of one that I did. I'm not saying it's the perfect example, but it's the best way I could think of to handle it at the time. It actually consisted of individual printed sheets in a box, some with text, some with images, and could conceivably have been treated as a non-projected graphic.  


On Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 3:35 PM, Wilson, Pete < [log in to unmask] > wrote: 
I will take a look.  Thanks.  The artist in question is Daniel Essig and the work is called "Album chain book."  Here's Essig's page on the Vamp & Tramp Booksellers website, which has a description of this work: 

Do you have many "books" that are one-of-a-kind?  I.e., an edition of one?  They seem especially tricky to me, though that isn't my major problem with this one. 

-----Original Message----- 
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto: [log in to unmask] ] On Behalf Of Janet Thomas 
Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013 2:34 PM 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] What format to catalog this "artist's book" in? 

Here at Ringling we have a collection of over 400 artists' books and many of them don't look like books.  However, if the author/artist wants to call it a book and sells it as a book, that's how I catalog it.  Who's the artist?  Maybe we have something. 

Artists' Books in the Library's collection, 

Janet Thomas 
Technical Services Librarian 
Ringling College of Art and Design 
Sarasota, FL 
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-----Original Message----- 
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto: [log in to unmask] ] On Behalf Of Wilson, Pete 
Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013 2:15 PM 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] What format to catalog this "artist's book" in? 

Thanks, Judy.  I'm leaning in that direction myself but would still love to hear from others. 

There have been some other one-of-a-kind items that have been troublesome because they contained little or no text but did in fact have pages of some type that contained illustrations of some type, and "felt" like books, rather than two-dimensional art originals.  It's tricky with these things. 

-----Original Message----- 
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto: [log in to unmask] ] On Behalf Of Schneider, Judith A 
Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013 12:19 PM 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] What format to catalog this "artist's book" in? 

I'd go for realia.  While it may be shaped like a book, it has no other characteristics of a book ... printed information on paper intended to convey information to a reader. 

Judy Schneider 
Applied Research & Methods 
Library Services 
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-----Original Message----- 
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto: [log in to unmask] ] On Behalf Of Wilson, Pete 
Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013 12:26 PM 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: [PCCLIST] What format to catalog this "artist's book" in? 

This question may be a little unusual for this group but it's fun fun fun! 

I have to catalog a one-of-a-kind "artist's book" that contains no text and only a couple of images. 

It's basically in codex format, bound, but the pages are absolutely and entirely blank.  On the front cover is a little recessed area in which one can see a tiny photograph of a woman.  Under that is a protruding "shelf", and hanging on a chain attached next to the recessed area is a similar but much smaller book.  The smaller book does have some random French text on its "endpapers," which are just recycled pages, and the artist has signed the back "endpaper."  On the back of the big book is a little metal frame enclosing another photo, of four women.  The inside back cover of the big book has a cut-out hole in which there's a rock with a little floral drawing on it.  A little paper border around the hole has some more random French text, but I don't think the text "chosen" is meant to signify anything. 

So the "book" does have two places where there are some random words, and two photographs, and the rock does have a little drawing on its visible surface.  But that is the entirety of what I guess we might call the representational content, and it is quite minimal. 

Does this need to be cataloged in books format or realia format? 

Not long ago I cataloged another one-of-a-kind item by the same artist, but while it also included a tiny attached book and a randomly chosen page of French, it was primarily a primitive wooden sculpture of a bird pierced with lots of screws and nails and attached to a sort of paddle or bread board that was supposed to represent an old-fashioned horn book (the page of French was decoupaged onto it).  It seemed pretty clearly a three-dimensional art original and I cataloged it on a realia format.  On the other hand, I have cataloged some one-of-a-kind items that were much more "bookish" on books format.  They didn't seem like manuscripts, I figured, and were too booklike to just be art originals. 

I'm curious what other people will think.  Thanks! 

Christine DeZelar-Tiedman 
Manager, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Unit 
University of Minnesota Libraries 
160 Wilson Library                      (612) 625-0381 PH 
309 19th Ave. S.                        (612) 625-3428 FAX 
Minneapolis, MN 55455               [log in to unmask] 


Randal S. Brandt 
The Bancroft Library | University of California, Berkeley 
510.643.2275 | [log in to unmask]