AAT – Art & Architecture Thesaurus

Many people know what the Library of Congress Authority Record Database is and how it can help their library. But what do you know about the other large authority collections? Nate Cothran, Product Manager of MARS Automation Services and expert on the Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) sheds a little light on it for us:

The Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) is a collection of 131,000 authority records about the visual arts and architecture maintained by the Getty Institute. Though the AAT is updated every month, the licensed version—which Backstage uses—is sent out once annually.

Within the authority record itself, the AAT entry lists the main heading in the 155 tag:

001 __ 300015529
155 __ $abird's-eye views$B(<views by vantage point or orientation>, views, 
<visual works by form: image form>, <visual works by form>, <visual works>, 
Visual Works, Visual and Verbal Communication, Objects 

The 155 $a is the part of the heading that will be reflected in your updated bib heading:

 655 __ $abird's-eye views

I can see what you’re thinking on this: How is it that the authority’s 155 above contains so much more information than the bib’s 655 field? Sometime in the last year, the AAT authority records began including an incredible amount of reference points & additional information encoded into capital-letter & numbered subfields. Unless your system is able to incorporate this extra data, the pertinent information you likely prefer to retain resides in the main (lower-cased) subfields.

In order to bring the authority records received from AAT back into a more manageable structure, Backstage can remove all of the capital-letter subfields as well as the numbered [0-9] subfields. This makes the loading into your system error-free in case your system balks at the extra subfields it has to somehow categorize on the fly.

So this revised authority heading:

001 __ 300015529
155 __ $abird's-eye views

Now matches cleanly and updates easily within your ILS system.

At least now you’ll know what to look AAT in your Art & Architecture Thesaurus authorities.


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