ALCTS - Association of Library Collections & Technical Services

Task Force on the VRA Core Categories


Discussion Document (Vellucci, 6/99)
“User Tasks” from Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records
Brief Bibliography
Summary Report (1/2001)


August 9, 2000


The Task Force on the VRA Core Categories is charged with but not limited to:

  1. Evaluating the relationship between library metadata (AACR2, USMARC) and the Visual Resources Association/Data Standards Committee Core Categories for describing visual resources collections to determine how well the VRA Core Categories map into AACR2 and MARC.
  2. Identifying the issues surrounding the use of VRA metadata in AACR2 cataloging records. The Task Force shall refer to the four user tasks set forth in the IFLA Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records and the Computer File Core Record Requirements established by PCC in evaluating the VRA metadata standard.
  3. Assessing the consequences and impact of integrating records containing the VRA core categories into library databases, evaluating mechanisms for integration and recommending appropriate measures for libraries.
  4. Preparing rule revision proposals and discussion papers as needed.
  5. Monitoring of projects and activities that use VRA.
  6. Informing others of library perspectives through a designated liaison to VRA and informing CC:DA about the development of VRA.

The Task Force shall prepare a summary of the VRA metadata standard which shall include the following information:

  • some background on history and community served
  • description of metadata element set
  • sample records if possible
  • citations for more information, implementation projects, etc. Include Web sites.

The Task Force shall present interim reports to CCDA at the 1999 and 2000 Midwinter and Annual Meetings. The Final Report of the Task Force shall be presented to CC:DA at the Midwinter Meeting in 2001 and shall be sent to the Chair of CC:DA no later than December 15, 2000.


June 16, 2000


Sherry Kelley, Chair
Smithsonian Institution Libraries
Preferred mailing address:
2500 Virginia Ave., N.W., Apt. 716S
Washington, D.C. 20037
work: (202) 357-3161
fax: (202) 357-4532

Sherry L. Vellucci, Chair (1998-1999)
St. John's University
Division of Library & Information Science
8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11439
work: (718) 990-1455
fax: (718) 990-2071

Anne Champagne
Head, Technical Services
Art Institute of Chicago
Michigan at Adams
Chicago, IL 60603
work: (312) 857-7108
fax: (312)443-0105

Sherman Clarke
New York University Libraries
Bobst Library—Cataloging
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
work: (212) 998-2462
fax: (212) 995-4366

Robin K. Wendler
Harvard University Library
Office for Information Systems
1280 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 404
Cambridge, MA 02138
work: (617) 495-3724
fax: (617) 495-0491

Send e-mail to: Task Force Members

Discussion Document

Sherry L. Vellucci, 6/17/99

I think at this stage we should define the work that needs to be done, identify a work sequence and time-line, and begin to divide-up the work load. The elements of the Charge seem to follow a logical sequence, so perhaps our work should proceed in that order, with the exception that item 5—Monitoring of projects and activities that use VRA—should be continuous, as it may help with other portions of the charge.

Here are some of my thoughts on the charge and the work that needs to be done. If there is something I’ve missed, please let me know. Also, if there is some aspect that you would particularly like to cover, please volunteer.

  1. The VRA Data Standards Committee has already mapped the Core Categories to MARC (and the REACH Element Set and the Categories for the Description of Works of Art­CDWA), so this portion of the charge is completed. That only(!) leaves mapping the VRA Core to AACR2.
  2. The Charge asks us to discuss the issues surrounding the use of VRA metadata in terms of the IFLA FRBR 4 user tasks, and the PCC Core Record for Computer Files. I’ve also suggested to Dan that the Charge cover the PCC Core Record for Graphic Materials as well, and he agrees that this would be good to add. All of these will need to be done, perhaps resulting in 3 discussion papers. I’ve included the 4 IFLA FRBR user tasks below. For reference, the Final Report of the CC:DA Metadata Task Force included a fine discussion of these user tasks.
  3. Should this portion of the charge (assessing the consequences and impact of integrating records containing the VRA Core Categories into library databases and evaluating mechanisms for integration) be done after we have completed the mapping to AACR2? Should this be another discussion paper? Perhaps the VISION Project analysis might be of some help with this as well.
  4. Rule revision proposals will probably evolve as we work.

All of this is just to begin our discussion, so please let me know your thoughts and comments, or any other ideas you may have on how our TF should work. Does anyone think that other discussion papers should be prepared, or should we use the available documentation for now and decide on this as the need arises?

This leaves me with one final question (for now) about the definition of a work. The VRA Core provides a clear and useful definition of a work As you know, AACR2 does not. The cataloging community [and now the Dublin Core community as well] seems to be moving in the direction of adopting the IFLA FRBR use of the terms work, expression, manifestation, and item, but nothing official has been done thus far. What is the pleasure of the TF on this? I’d hate to see us get bogged down with definitions, especially since it is not part of our charge. Can we agree to use either the VRA or IFLA definitions, or a combination of the two?

Included below is the Task Force Charge, the Reporting Schedule, the IFLA FRBR User Tasks, and a brief Bibliography for background reading and source documents. The bibliography includes only a very few items at this time. It will be expanded as we continue our work so that the final report contains a complete listing of VRA resources and articles. Please let me know as you discover information that should be included in our Bibliography and I will add it. I will also check with John Attig about maintaining a Web Page for our working documents.

I have not used attachments in this first message because I know that many people have difficulty accessing them. Please let me know if you can receive attachments formatted as either WordPerfect or MS Word and I will include future attachments in these formats.

“User Tasks” from
Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records

  • “to find entities that correspond to the user’s stated search criteria (i.e., to locate either a single entity or a set of entities in a file or database as the result of a search using an attribute or relationship of the entity);
  • “to identify an entity (i.e., to confirm that the entity described corresponds to the entity sought, or to distinguish between two or more entities with similar characteristics);
  • “to select an entity that is appropriate to the user's needs (i.e., to choose an entity that meets the user’s requirements with respect to content, physical format, etc., or to reject an entity as being inappropriate to the user’s needs);
  • “to acquire or obtain access to the entity described (i.e., to acquire an entity through purchase, loan, etc., or to access an entity electronically through an on-line connection to a remote computer)” (IFLA 1998, 90).

Brief Bibliography

ArtMARC Sourcebook: Cataloging Art, Architecture, and Their Visual Images. Ed. Linda McRae and Lynda S. White. Chicago: ALA, 1998. 287p. (ISBN 0-8389-0723-7). LC 97-9441.

Lanzi, Elisa. “The REACH and VISION Projects: Improving Access to Art Information.” VRA Bulletin v.25, no. 2 (Summer 1998). Available WWW: s5lanzi.htm.

Visual Resources Association. Data Standards Committee. VRA Core Categories. Version 2.0. Available WWW:

This general “Data Standards” page contains the VRA Core Categories menu, from which you can access the latest version (2.0) of the VRA Core, as well as background information on its development. There is also a link to a description of the Vision Project.

The VRA Bulletin, v. 25, no. 4 (winter 1998)

Additional Resources:

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. 1998. Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. Munchen: K.G. Saur. Also available:

Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. Cataloging and Classification Section. Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access. Task Force on Metadata and the Cataloging Rules. Final Report. Available at: ccda/ tf-tei2.html.

Program for Cooperative Cataloging. Core Bibliographic Record for Monographic Computer Files. Available at:

Program for Cooperative Cataloging. Core Bibliographic Record for Graphic Materials. Available at:


February 2, 2001; rev. March 13, 2001

Summary Report

The report is available in the following formats: