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SC&A Artists’ Books Cataloging Guidelines

To ensure that we’re cataloging artists’ books in a uniform way, here are some guidelines for notes, subject and genre headings, and relationship designators, etc.

Call numbers

Class under N7433.4 or N7433.3

Primary Access Point and Relationship Designators

Assign 100 to the artist, who conceived the book, versus the writer of the text (if text is written by someone else).  Prefer assigning the relationship designator “book artist” from the RBMS relationship designator list.

When the text is written by someone else, usually trace the writer in a 700 and assign the relationship designator “writer of supplementary textual content.” If the artist is adapting a poem or other literary work provide a name title entry with the appropriate relationship designator (usually “adaptation of (work)” or “inspired by” depending on the context).

Subject and Genre Headings

“Artists’ books” is currently defined in LCSH for use both for works about artists’ books and exemplars of artists’ books.  While the LCSH term will eventually be disambiguated when LC tackles genre terms of art, for now the best practice is to assign both a subject heading and a RBMS genre heading for artists’ books.

Geographic Subdivisions

For artists’ books produced in California, geographically subdivide to the city level, if known.  For other places, subdivide to the country or state as appropriate. 

Chronological Subdivisions

For subject headings assign a chronological subdivision for the century.  For genre terms subdivide to the decade. 


650 _0 Artists’ books |z California |z San Diego |y 20th century |v Specimens

655 _7 Artists’ books |z California |z San Diego |y 1990-1999. |2 rbgenr


650 _0 Artists’ books |z France |y 21st century |v Specimens

655 _7 Artists’ books |z France |y 2000-2009. |2 rbgenr


650 _0 Artists’ books |z North Carolina |y 21st century |v Specimens

655 _7 Artists’ books |z North Carolina |y 2010-2019. |2 rbgenr


Additional Genre Terms

 Always assign the genre term “Artists’ books” to materials selected as artists’ book.  Assign any additional art genre terms such as “Mail art,” as applicable. 


Local Collections/Gifts

Latin American artists’ books

Latin America is one of the collecting focuses of our artists' books collection.  For artists' books from Latin American countries, assign two genre headings for artists’ books, one subdivided by the country and one subdivided by Latin America. 


655 _7 Artists’ books |z Mexico |y 2000-2009. |2 rbgenr

655 _7 Artists’ books |z Latin America |y 2000-2009. |2 rbgenr


655 _7 Artists’ books |z Cuba |y 1980-1989. |2 rbgenr

655 _7 Artists’ books |z Latin America |y 1980-1989. |2 rbgenr


We are no longer assigning the 793 Latin American artists’ book collection to artists' books from this region.


Gerry McAllister gift (2017)

See guidelines on LiSN

Please add the following fields

590 __ Special Collections copy gift of Gerry McAllister

790 1_ McAllister, Gerry, |e donor


DO NOT write call numbers on artists’ books. Otherwise, follow normal SC&A processing procedures.   Consult Lynda on housing for any odd shaped or delicate items.

Written by Michelle Mascaro, 03/29/2017; updated 4/25/2017; 8/25/2017; 12/8/2017