Using Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA) and CDWA Lite
With information from the Getty Institute
This chapter provides guidelines, advice, and exercises in the usage of Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA) with a focus on the CDWA Lite element set. CDWA is an option for describing images and allows rich description in the metadata record. CDWA was created to provide guidelines for describing works of art, architecture, groups of objects, and visual and textual surrogates. This standard addresses many information needs for the cultural heritage community. A discussion of the content standard Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO), which interoperates with CDWA, is included. This chapter includes a guide to the element set with description and an exercise.
The Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA) schema is another option for describing images and other works of art. It contains elements useful to describing material objects that may or may not have text included. For example, CDWA distinguishes between “Title” and “Inscription” – a work of art may have an inscription that is not its title. In the image below (Figure 5.1), the title may be composed of part of the inscription, but there is a great deal of information that will not be included in the title.
CDWA was devised to enable widespread sharing and ingestion in union catalogs, while eliminating much of the overhead associated with shared catalogs (Coburn et al., 2010, p. 18). It has 31 categories and 380 subcategories (Zeng and Qin, 2008, p. 33). CDWA was designed to work with Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO), and thus is also compatible with popular thesauri such as LCSH and AAT (Art & Architecture Thesaurus) (Boughida, 2005, p. 50).
CDWA was produced by the Art Information Task Force (AITF), which was formed to develop guidelines for describing works of art, architecture, groups of objects, and visual and textual surrogates. Formed in the early 1990s, the Task Force was made up of representatives from the communities that provide and use art information: art historians, museum curators and registrars, visual resource professionals, art librarians, information managers, and technical specialists. The work of the AITF was funded by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the National Endowment for the Humanities (Zeng and Qin, 2008, p. 32).
CDWA contains concepts for creating the framework for your metadata, concepts which are important in the art world: item, group, volume, collection, series, set, and component. Many of them are familiar from other metadata content schemes, such as item and series, but they are tailored to the information needs of the cultural object world.
(Zeng and Qin, 2008, p. 34)
CDWA has been mapped to MARC, DC, EAD, and other metadata schemas. If this language meets your collections’ needs it can interoperate with many other systems and expose your content to a very wide audience ‒ especially with the creation of CDWA Lite.
CDWA Lite is an XML schema for encoding core records for works of art and material culture. It is a technical interchange standard designed with the needs of art and material culture communities in mind (Baca, 2007, p. 69). CDWA Lite recommends using guidelines from CCO to assist with selecting, ordering, and formatting data used to populate the elements (Coburn et al., 2010, p. 18). If CCO is the content standard, and CDWA is the structural standard, CDWA Lite is the technical structure (Boughida, 2005, p. 50). CDWA Lite fills an important need to deliver the data. It is also a compromise between the richness of CDWA and the sparseness of Dublin Core (Boughida, 2005, p. 52).
CDWA Lite has 22 elements, 19 of which are for descriptive metadata and three of which are for administrative metadata (Coburn et al., 2010, p. 19). Only nine of the elements are required. This standard divides display and indexing elements. CDWA Lite is harvestable via the OAI‒ PMH standard; thus data in CDWA can be repurposed and easily transported. It is listed as an Open Archives Initiative (OAI) Best Practice. CDWA Lite can be used to share metadata among union catalogs and link back to fuller records with richer description at home institutions (Baca, 2007, p. 70).
CDWA Lite is versatile and can be extended. For example, “Museumdat” is an expansion created by the German Museums Association to provide for the information needs of natural history collections (Coburn et al., 2010, p. 20). The rich standard of CCO coupled with the streamlined CDWA Lite can be a powerful pair to distribute quality metadata describing your art content (Boughida, 2005, p. 53).
The creation of Cataloging Cultural Objects marked the first attempt that had been made to codify content standards for cataloging cultural heritage items (Jackson, 2008, p. 109). The primary focus of CCO is art and architecture, including but not limited to paintings, sculpture, prints, manuscripts, photographs, built works, installations, and other visual media; however, CCO may also cover other types of cultural works, including archaeological sites, artifacts, and functional objects from the realm of material culture. Like AACR2 and DACS, CCO guides cultural heritage professionals in the selection of terms and the order, syntax, and form that descriptive data should take within a data structure (Baca et al., 2006, p. 1). Providing guidance and standardization for the data within a data structure is as important for quality and interoperability as is the standardization of the data structure itself.
CCO has a distinctive concept of what constitutes a work. In CCO, a work is “a distinct intellectual or artistic creation limited primarily to objects and structures made by humans, including built works, visual art works, and cultural artifacts” (Baca et al., 2006, p. 4).
CCO was designed to work with the CDWA and the VRA Core Categories, but can also be used with other structural metadata (Harpring, 2007, p. 34). Historically, CCO evolved from CDWA. This is a marked difference from other content standards such as AACR2, which preceded the creation of corresponding container metadata. CCO was created in the context of container standards being the norm. This standard focuses on descriptive metadata, leaving the administrative and technical elements to CDWA or other structures (Harpring, 2007, p. 34).
CCO is divided into three parts – general guidelines, cataloging rules for work and image elements, and authority work. There are four authority categories in CCO: personal and corporate names, geographic place names, concepts, and subjects. The concept of authorities for names aids in the interoperability of metadata. Agreement on a certain designation for a person, group, place, concept, or subject helps the metadata make sense in context. CCO has core elements that are required or highly recommended, and allows for variation by institution. CCO, like CDWA and VRA, is designed to account for relationships between works.
CCO can be described more as a set of guidelines than a set of rules (Beacom, 2007, p. 82). This traces from its origins, as CCO sought to bring together metadata communities that did not have as long a shared history of a common set of rules as libraries did for textual resources. Its comprehensiveness and flexibility may be a key to widespread adoption as a standard. CCO works well with CDWA Lite and VRA Core 4.0 ‒ in fact, CDWA Lite was designed to be CCO’s technical counterpart (Boughida, 2005, p. 53). Becoming familiar with CCO will increase your ability to interact with cultural heritage metadata from other institutions.
The element definitions contained in this section come from CDWA Lite: Specification 1.1, which is maintained by the Getty Research Institute. The specification contains definitions for the 19 descriptive elements and three administrative elements. In addition to the top level elements, there are 28 sub-elements, many of which have sub-elements themselves.
The following list outlines the 19 descriptive elements, 3 administrative elements, and 28 sub-elements. The required elements are in italics. Information on the sub-elements of the sub-elements can be found in the element definitions.
Description: A term or terms identifying the specific kind of object or work being described. For a collection, include repeatable instances for terms identifying all of or the most important items in the collection.
Description: Titles, identifying phrases, or names given to a work of art, architecture, or material culture. For complex works, series, or collections, the title may refer to a discrete unit within the larger entity (a print from a series, a photograph in a collection, a panel from a fresco cycle, a building within a temple complex) or it may identify only the larger entity (series, collection, cycle) itself.
Recommended values for preference: preferred, alternate. Recommended values for type: inscribed, former, translated, repository, traditional, creator, local, and others as recommended in CCO and CDWA.
Recommended values for lang: Language formulated according to rules in the CCO and CDWA (i.e. ISO 639-2b, RFC 3066 and other encoding schemes may be used, or another authoritative source may be used, such as Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 14th edition. Barbara F. Grimes, ed. Dallas, Texas: SIL International, 2000). If ISO or other codes are used, they must be translated into common English for end-users.
Element tag: < cdwalite:displayCreator > Description: The name, brief biographical information, and roles (if necessary) of the named creator or creators in the design and production of the work, presented in a syntax suitable for display to the end-user and including any necessary indications of uncertainty, ambiguity, and nuance. If there is no known creator, make a reference to the presumed culture or nationality of the unknown creator.Non-repeatableRequiredData values: Formulated according to data content rules for creator display in CCO and CDWA; may be concatenated from the Indexing Creator elements, if necessary. The name should be in natural order, if possible, although inverted order is acceptable. Include nationality and life dates. For unknown creators, use one of the conventions illustrated in the following examples: “unknown,” “unknown Chinese,” “Chinese,” or “unknown 15th-century Chinese.”
Description: The names, appellations, or other identifiers assigned to an individual, group of people, firm or other corporate body, or other entity that has contributed to the design, creation, production, manufacture, or alteration of the work.
Description: A description of the lifespan of the person or the existence of the corporate body, using “ca.” and any other expressions of uncertainty or nuance. For Birth and Death date attributes, record years of birth and death, estimated where necessary. For a corporate body, use birthdate and deathdate to record the dates of founding and dissolution.
Data values: Indexing dates should be formulated according to the rules in CCO and CDWA. Format will vary depending upon implementation. (Do not repeat attributes birthdate or deathdate within one set of Vital Dates.)
Description: A qualifier used when the attribution is uncertain, is in dispute, when there is more than one creator, when there is a former attribution, or when the attribution otherwise requires explanation.
Data values: attributed to, studio of, workshop of, atelier of, office of, assistant of, associate of, pupil of, follower of, school of, circle of, style of, after, copyist of, manner of, used according to the recommendations in CCO and CDWA.
Description: Information about the dimensions, size, or scale of the work, presented in a syntax suitable for display to the end-user and including any necessary indications of uncertainty, ambiguity, and nuance. It may include the scale of the work. It may also include the number of the parts of a complex work, series, or collection.
Data values: Formulated according to data content rules for measurements in CCO and CDWA; generally presented height by width by depth, unless otherwise indicated. Metric units preferred, with values in inches as well, if possible. May be concatenated from controlled fields.
Description: The dimensions, size, shape, scale, format, or storage configuration of the work, including volume, weight, area, or running time. Measurements are formatted to allow retrieval; preferably in metric units where applicable; if multiple parts of the work are measured, repeat the Indexing Measurements Set element.
Data values for type: height, width, depth, length, diameter, circumference, stories, count, area, volume, running time, size (e.g. US Women’s size 8), base, target, and others as recommended in CCO and CDWA.
Data values: overall, components, sheet, plate mark, chain lines, pattern repeat, lid, base, laid lines, folios, leaves, columns per page, lines per page, tessera, footprint, panel, interior, mat, window of mat, secondary support, frame, mount, and others as recommended in CCO and CDWA.
Description: An expression of the ratio between the size of the representation of something and that thing (e.g. the size of the drawn structure and the actual built work). Used for studies, record drawings, models, and other representations drawn or constructed to scale.
Data values for scale: numeric (e.g. 1 inch = 1 foot), full-size, life-size, half-size, monumental, and others as recommended in CCO and CDWA. Combine this tag with Measurement Sets for numeric scales. For measurementsSet type for Scale, use “base” for the left side of the equation, and “target” for the right side of the equation.
Description: An indication of the substances or materials used in the creation of a work, as well as any implements, production or manufacturing techniques, processes, or methods incorporated in its fabrication, presented in a syntax suitable for display to the end-user and including any necessary indications of uncertainty, ambiguity, and nuance. For works on paper, descriptions of watermarks may also be included. (For marks applied to the work or support by the artist or subsequently by another person, see Inscriptions.)
Description: Materials and techniques indexed with controlled terms for retrieval; if multiple parts of the work require separate materials and techniques, or if you are recording media and support separately, repeat this element with the type attribute and/or the extent sub-element.
Description: A concise description of the date or range of dates associated with the creation, design, production, presentation, performance, construction, or alteration of the work or its components, presented in a syntax suitable for display to the end-user and including any necessary indications of uncertainty, ambiguity, and nuance.
Description: A wrapper for one set of years in the proleptic Gregorian calendar delimiting the span of time during which the creation and production of the work took place, as indicated in the Display Creation Date. If the creation took place in a single year, repeat the same year in earliest and latest dates. For ca. and other uncertain or approximate dates, estimate the greatest possible span for indexing, as recommended in CCO and CDWA. If different parts of the work were done at different times, or if different activities in the production of the work were done at different times, repeat Indexing Dates Set.
Description: The name and geographic location of the repository that is currently responsible for the work, or, for monumental works and architecture, the geographic location of the work. If the work is lost, destroyed, has location unknown, or the work is in an anonymous private collection, indicate this. Also may include creation location, discovery location, and other former locations.
Data values: Controlled. BHA (Bibliography of the History of Art) index, Anglo-American Authority Files (AAAF) (LC authorities and subject headings), Grove’s Dictionary of Art Location Appendix, International Directory of the Arts, Official Museum Directory, and TGN. Use of separate authorities for corporate bodies and geographic locations is recommended. See the discussion in CCO and CDWA. Other terminology as necessary: lost, destroyed, location unknown, private collection.
Recommended values for type: currentLocation, currentRepository, formerRepository, currentArchitectural Context, formerArchitecturalContext, currentGeographic, formerGeographic, discoveryLocation, creationLocation.
Description: A wrapper for one set of Subject Indexing information. If a work has multiple parts or otherwise has separate, multiple subjects, repeat this element with Extent Subject. This element may also be repeated to distinguish between subjects that reflect what a work is “of” (description and identification) from what it is “about” (interpretation).
Description: Terms that identify, describe, and/or interpret what is depicted in and by a work. These may include proper names (e.g. people, events, places), iconography, themes from literature, or generic terms describing the material world, or topics (e.g. concepts, themes, or issues).
Data values: Controlled. Recommended AAT, TGN, LC Name and Subject Authorities, TGM (Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphic Materials), Iconclass, Sears Subject Headings. Derive terminology from authoritative sources, where possible. See the list of sources in CCO and CDWA. Use of a Subject Authority and other authorities from which these data values may be derived is recommended.
Description: Term used to categorize a work by grouping it together with other works on the basis of similar characteristics, including materials, form, shape, function, region of origin, cultural context, or historical or stylistic period. If the work is assigned to multiple classifications, repeat this element. Attributes: termsource, termsourceID
Description: A relatively brief essay-like text that describes the content and context of the work, including comments and an interpretation that may supplement, qualify, or explain the physical characteristics, subject, circumstances of creation or discovery, or other information about the work.
Description: A description or transcription of any distinguishing or identifying physical lettering, annotations, texts, markings, or labels that are affixed, applied, stamped, written, inscribed, or attached to the work, excluding any mark or text inherent in the materials of which the work is made (record watermarks in Display Materials/Techniques).
Description: A wrapper for one work, group, collection, or series that is directly related to the work at hand, including direct relationships between two works, between a work and its components, and between an item and the larger group, collection, or series of works. Related works may also include works that were created as pendants or otherwise to be displayed together with the work at hand. If there is more than one Related Work for the work being catalogued, repeat this element.
Note: For implementation of the data: note that relationships are conceptually reciprocal, but the Relationship Type is often different on either side of the relationship (e.g. one work is part of a second work, but, from the point of view of the second record, the first work is the larger context for the second work). Whether or not relationships are physically reciprocal as implemented in systems is a local decision.
Description: An identification of the related work, group, collection, or series that will be meaningful to end-users, including some or all of the following information, as necessary for clarity and if known: title, creator, object/work type, and creation date. Display it with the Location of Related Work.
Description: The current location of the related work, generally a repository or, for architecture and monumental works, a geographic place. For series and other works published in multiples, location may not be applicable.
Comment: The relWorkID attribute is the repository’s unique numeric or alphanumeric identifier for the work. The locIDtype is the authoritative source that supplied the locID. The locID attribute is the unique code identifying this repository.
Description: Information about rights management; may include copyright and other intellectual property statements required for use regarding the work. If the holder of the reproduction rights to the image/resource differs from the rights for the work, use rightsResource described below.
Description: Unique ID of the metadata. Record Info ID has the same definition as Record ID but out of the context of original local system, such as a persistent identifier or an oai identifier (e.g. oai1:getty. edu:paintings/00001234 attribute type = oai). Attribute: type
Description: A wrapper for information about the images or other resources that serve as visual surrogates of the work, including digital images, slides, transparencies, photographs, videos, audio, and moving images, but excluding items that are considered works in their own right. For works such as drawings, prints, paintings, or photographs considered art, and other works that themselves contain representations of other works, use Related Works and/or Subjects.
Description: Information about rights regarding the image or other resource. Use this sub-element if the holder of the reproduction rights for the image/resource differs from the holder of rights for the work. See also Rights Work above. (For example, the work rights are “©national Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution (Washington DC),” but the image rights are “Photo © Frank Khoury.”)
Data values: Controlled. Recommended AAT, TGN, LC Name and Subject Authorities, TGM, Iconclass, Sears Subject Headings. Derive terminology from authoritative sources, where possible. See the list of sources in CCO and CDWA. Data values may be derived from a Subject Authority and other authorities.
Description: A date or range of dates associated with the creation or production of the image. This is not necessarily the same as the date of production of the resource (e.g. a print of a negative may be made years after the image was first captured on film). For the date of the resource, use Resource Date.
Description: Identification of the agency, individual, repository, or publication from which the image or other resource was obtained, including a bibliographic citation in the case of copy photography. Include this sub-element when the source of the image/resource differs from the source named in Record Source.
Description: A reference to an image or other resource that is related to the resource in this Resource Set, generally linking a group or collection of images or other resources to members of the group or collection. For multiple related resources, repeat this element.
Description: Caption on image reads, “Boat landing and Elephant Butte, Elephant Butte Dam, New Mexico.” Logo stamped next to caption reads, “Frashers Fotos.” Image showing the Elephant Butte Reservoir with Elephant Butte rising out of the water. A boat ramp and a number of boats are visible in the reservoir in the bottom left corner of the image.
Rights: Copyright, NMSU Board of Regents. Please send questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type: currentRepository: New Mexico State University Library Indexing Subject Term: Elephant Butte Reservoir (N.M.) Description/Descriptive Note: Image showing the Elephant Butte Reservoir with Elephant Butte rising out of the water. A boat ramp and a number of boats are visible in the reservoir in the bottom left corner of the image.
The following exercises present a surrogate of an original work (Figure 5.3)), held by the New Mexico State University Library, along with the information available to the metadata cataloger.
Collection: Amador Family Papers, Collection No. Ms 0004; guide available at http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=nmlcu1ms4. xml
Rights: Copyright, NMSU Board of Regents. Please send questions to: email@example.com
The production of metadata can sometimes be very subjective, and the fullness of the metadata produced will depend on the amount of information available to the metadata cataloger. However, the following items provide an example of the metadata that could be produced for the above exercises.
Inscriptions: Handwritten captions along top read “[Ms223, 466]” and “[RG88-168].” Printed caption on the bottom reads, “Scene at Santa Fe Station.” Older database indicates the original item is a photomechanical color print.
Inscription: Printed caption on top left reads, “Automobile Road on La Bajada Hill on ‘Ocean to Ocean Scenic Highway,’ near Santa Fe, New Mexico.” Older database indicates the original item is a tinted photomechanical post card.
Description/Descriptive Note: Description in older database reads, “Danzante (matachin) group, man third from right is Cenovio Avalos, second from right is Francisco Dominguez. Las Cruces or Tortugas, New Mexico,” and indicates that the original is a glass negative. Image shows a group composed of men in costume and young girls in white dresses. Digitized using Adobe Photoshop CS3 Macintosh, at 8 bits, 300 dpi
Label for Related Resource: Rocky Mountain Online Archives, Register of the Amador Family Papers, 1836–1949, http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=nmlcu1ms4.xml