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Thesaurus for Graphic Materials II (TGM): An Introduction

II. Scope and Purpose

In the context of TGM II, genre headings denote distinctive categories of material: an established class of pictorial types (PORTRAITS), a vantage point or method of projection (BIRD'S-EYE VIEWS; PERSPECTIVE PROJECTIONS), or intended purpose (ADVERTISEMENTS; COMPETITION DRAWINGS). Some indicate characteristics of an image's creator (STUDENT WORKS) or a publication status or occasion (CENSORED WORKS; NEW YEAR CARDS). Others imply a subject but also designate a method of representation (ABSTRACT WORKS; LANDSCAPES). Terms denoting artistic movements and styles are not included in this definition of genre. Physical characteristic headings designate graphic materials distinguished by production processes or techniques (ALBUMEN PRINTS), production stages or versions (PROOFS; REPRODUCTIONS), instrument employed (PINHOLE CAMERA PHOTOGRAPHS; AIRBRUSH WORKS), markings (WATERMARKS), shape and size (SCROLLS; MINIATURE WORKS), and other physical aspects of graphic materials.

TGM II terms are:

  • applicable to two-dimensional, chiefly pictorial, graphic materials (among them, prints, photographs, drawings, and ephemera) whether they are part of a book, or in a manuscript, graphic, or other collection;
  • applicable to some non-pictorial and three-dimensional material commonly found in graphic collections, such as visiting cards and photograph cases;
  • appropriate for materials commonly found in general graphic collections of research libraries and historical societies. (Thus, there are more terms for photographs and historical prints than for fine prints, drawings, and paintings. There are few terms for educational audiovisual materials.)

TGM II terms will:

  • assist research into the development and distribution of a particular genre or technical process;
  • aid retrieval of information about aspects of graphic materials frequently requested by people who want to understand how a certain technique is performed;
  • aid selection of materials for exhibitions or class demonstrations;
  • assist collection preservation, since collections are handled less when the catalog provides more specific access;
  • help collection management by providing, for example, the information needed to calculate the quantity of glass transparencies held by an institution;
  • aid cataloging, since pinpointing a process or format may help to date or identify an image;
  • make cataloging more consistent and encourage specificity by providing standard terminology in a ready reference format;
  • assist institutions in disseminating information about their collections through database networks or other means.

For example, genre and physical characteristic terms will make it easier for the student of lithography to find examples of lithographs; indeed, the student could narrow the search to lithographic posters printed in Germany between 1900 and 1920. Or, by using these headings, the scholar can rapidly retrieve photographically illustrated books.