Resource Description - Projects

Electronic Resources

The Cataloging Services Department endeavors to provide access to materials in all formats and media that have been selected for the Smithsonian Libraries collection.  Electronic resources available over the Internet present special difficulties and challenges for processing and managing in a systematic way so that they remain discoverable and readily accessible to our users.  As electronic resources are often subject to change over time, records describing them require review and maintenance to assure that they will appropriately reflect their current status.  The Cataloging Services Department is represented on the library-wide E-Force Committee that reviews the purchases of electronic journals and databases.  Most purchased electronic resources and a subset of Internet resources available at no charge are selected for full cataloging in our integrated library system, SIRIS, through OCLC.  A locally developed electronic resources management system provides a cataloging queue and processing status tracking for electronic resources.  Most purchases as well as Smithsonian-produced digital products are assigned an in-house persistent url (PURL) that we use in the SIRIS records, allowing url maintenance to be done independently.  License agreements for electronic resources and services are managed in Cataloging Services as well as a database of conditions of use for public access through the online catalog.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Exhibition Catalog Project

Though most of the HMSG Library’s collection is cataloged and accessible in SIRIS, one category of materials are not.  These titles are almost all art exhibition catalogs from galleries and museums, approximately half of which are non-U.S. institutions, and are printed in various languages.  The catalogs include exhibitions on one artist, group exhibitions of two or more artists, and theme exhibitions.  They are essential for contemporary art research because most young artists are first “published” in an exhibition catalog.  Exhibition catalogs may have valuable essays and are used to trace provenance of an artwork and the exhibition history of a work of art or an artist.  Especially in contemporary art, scholarship in the past several decades has shifted towards a focus on exhibition catalogs rather than books published by commercial publishers.  CSD contract has cataloged approximately 6000 exhibition catalogs.  Approximately 12,000 catalogs remain to be cataloged pending funding provided by SIL and other funding sources, such as the CIS IRM Pool grants.

Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web

An extensive international listing of over 5,000 online exhibitions produced by libraries, archives, historical societies, and museums can be found at  The site has been maintained since 1999 by Diane Shaw, SIL Special Collections Cataloger, who compiles the list and updates it approximately every six weeks.  The online exhibitions list may be searched by keywords in an exhibition's title, subject, or name of the sponsoring institution.  The advanced search feature includes browsable lists of institutions, geographical areas, and exhibition titles.  Suggestions for adding links, corrections, and questions about the project should be sent to

Macro Development

In September 1997, a task force was charged to canvas cataloging staff on the most needed Passport for Windows (PfW) macros and to research, develop and test a prototype collection of macros with a standard key map for the department.  A macro is a program specifying a series of commands or actions (e.g., keystrokes) that can by triggered by a single executable command.  Repetitive tasks consisting of a predictable series of actions can be "automated" by a macro to save time and energy and to increase overall accuracy.

The PfW Macro Task Force was composed of staff from the Original Cataloging Section and Catalog Management Section so that appropriate macros could be be developed or adopted for use by all cataloging department staff.  The first set consisting of sixteen macros using the built-in macro functionality of Passport for Windows was installed on the personal computers of all cataloging staff in December 1997.  Additionally, the Task Force developed thirty-two macros using the NOTIS macro capability for staff to use in the SIL online catalog.

In March 2001 the Task Force was renamed the Macro Development Committee, and its members continue to develop, test, revise, and augment the original macro repertoire.  Upon the retirement of Passport for Windows and the adoption of the OCLC Connexion Client software in early 2005, we converted or modified many of our PfW macros to work in the new environment.  We now use Connexion Client macros and Macro Express (a commercial macro utility) that facilitates editing and data entry in our current online system, SIRIS (Smithsonian Institution Research Information System, operating on Horizon ILS software from SirsiDynix).

Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC)

Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL), through the Cataloging Services Department, is an active participant in the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, an international cooperative effort aimed at expanding access to library collections by providing useful, timely, and cost-effective cataloging that meets mutually-accepted standards of libraries around the world.  SIL became a PCC NACO (Name Authority Cooperative Program) participant in 1997, contributing name authority records to the LC/NACO Authority file through OCLC, SIL's bibliographic utility.  Series authority records were added to SIL's NACO contributions in 1998.  In March 2002 SIL became the 46th institution to join the PCC BIBCO program, contributing bibliographic records for monographs to the the OCLC WorldCat database that meet PCC standards with supporting authority records for all controlled access points.  For some time SIL has been active in proposing new subject headings to the Library of Congress for inclusion in Library of Congress Subject Headings.  Under the SACO (Subject Authority Cooperative Program) component of the PCC, SIL continues to submit proposals for new LC subject headings and LC classification numbers.

Serials Holdings Project

The Serials Holdings Project is a retrospective project to add serial holdings information to existing bibliographic serial records in the SIL online catalog.  In 1997 contract staff began creating current and reliable serial holdings information by inventorying serials in the branches, barcoding each volume, creating linked item records for each volume, and creating a summary of holdings record for each serial title that incorporates a formal statement of the extent of any given serial (copies, volumes, locations) that we have in our collection.  When currently received issues/volumes are bound, holdings information is added by Cataloging Services Department (CSD) staff.  CSD staff also add holdings for new serials at the time of cataloging.  When the Serials Holdings Project is complete, the records of approximately 42,000 serial titles in the SIL collections will have serial holdings information available in the online catalog, including serial titles currently received through purchase and exchange and the records of ceased serials in the SIL collections.

Serials Check-in Project

In 2001 SIL implemented an automated serials check-in system and CSD contract staff added approximately 3000 serial check-in records for titles that SIL currently receives through purchase and exchange subscriptions.  To date (summer 2008) there are over 4000 serial titles represented in the Serials Control Module.