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Cultural Ojbects Name Authority Online
Cultural Objects Name Authority (CONA): Editorial Guidelines


Purpose of these Guidelines
Purpose of CONA


    1.1.1 Scope and Structure
    1.1.2 What is a Thesaurus?
    1.1.3 What is a "Work" in CONA?

    1.2.1 Review process
    1.2.2 Does contributors' data follow editorial rules?

    1.3.1 Web browsers
    1.3.2 Licensed files

    1.4.1 Database
    1.4.2 Merged Records
    1.4.3 Operating VCS


    2.1.1 Following the rules
    2.1.2 Required fields and minimal records
    2.1.3 Format and values
    2.1.4 Capitalization and abbreviation
    2.1.5 Language of the Record
    2.1.6 Production goals
    2.1.7 Leaving unfinished records overnight
    2.1.8 Quality control
    2.1.9 Avoid plagiarism
    2.1.10 Uncertainty and ambiguity in display fields
    2.1.11 Uncertainty and ambiguity in indexing fields
    2.1.12 Uncertain identification of a work

    2.2.1 Rules for merging
    2.2.2 Procedures for merging

    2.3.1 Rules for moving
    2.3.2 Procedures for moving

    2.4.1 Sample CONA record
    2.5.1 About the fields
    2.5.2 List of VCS Fields


    3.1.1 Parents (required)
    3.1.2 Sort Order
    3.1.3 Historical Flag: Current or Historical parents and other flags
    3.1.4 Dates for relationship to parents
    3.1.5 Parent String
    3.1.6 Facet or Hierarchy Code

    3.2.1 Subject ID
(required default)
    3.2.2 Parent Key
    3.2.3 Merged Status
    3.2.4 Published Status
    3.2.5 Review Status
    3.2.6 Record Type
    3.2.7 Candidate Status
    3.2.8 Label
    3.2.9 Contributors for the Work Record
    3.2.10 Sources for the Work Record

    3.3.1 Term ID
    3.3.2 Titles/Names
    3.3.3 Preferred Flag
    3.3.4 Qualifier
    3.3.5 Sequence Number
    3.3.6 Historical Flag
    3.3.7 Term Type
    3.3.8 Vernacular Flag
    3.3.9 Language for Titles/Names
    3.3.10 Preferred Flag for Language
    3.3.11 Contributor for Titles/Names
    3.3.12 Preferred Flag for Contributor
    3.3.13 Sources for Titles/Names
    3.3.14 Page Number for Title Source
    3.3.15 Preferred Flag for Source
    3.3.16 Dates for Titles/Namess
    3.3.17 Display Title/Name Flag
    3.3.18 AACR Flag (LC heading)
    3.3.19 Other Flags
    3.3.20 Assigned To

    3.4.1 Descriptive Note
    3.4.2 Sources for the Descriptive Note
    3.4.3 Contributor for the Descriptive Note

    3.8.1 Comment Flag
    3.8.2 Problem Flag
    3.8.3 Assigned To
    3.8.4 Special Project
    3.8.5 Facet Code
    3.8.6 Legacy ID
    3.8.7 Class Notation
    3.8.8 Image
    3.8.9 Index Note
    3.8.10 Not Found Note
    3.8.11 Status Note
    3.8.12 Editor Note
    3.8.13 Revision History

    4.1.1 How to Use Diacritical Codes
    4.1.2 Diacritical Codes: Quick Reference
    4.1.3 Diacritical Codes: Full List

    4.2.1 How to Record Dates
    4.2.2 How to Use the Date Authority
    4.2.3 Date Authority

    4.3.1 How to Record Sources
    4.3.2 Rules for Sources
    4.3.3 Merging Sources

    4.4.1 How to Record Contributors

    4.5.1 How to Record Languages
    4.5.2 List of Languages




compiled and edited by
Patricia Harpring, managing editor

the Getty Vocabulary Program
Antonio Beecroft, editor
Robin Johnson, editor
Jonathan Ward, editor

Revised: 15 September 2010


This document contains information about editorial practice for the Cultural Objects Name Authority (CONA) ™, one of the vocabularies produced by the Getty Vocabulary Program. The other three vocabularies are the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)®, Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)®, and the Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)®.

NOTE: The guidelines in this document are subject to frequent modification and addition.


Purpose of these guidelines
CONA is a new Getty vocabulary currently under development. We hope to introduce it to the contributor community in 2011. It will include authority records for cultural works, including architecture and movable works such as paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, manuscripts, photographs, ceramics, textiles, furniture, and other visual media such as frescoes and architectural sculpture, performance art, archaeological artifacts, and various functional objects that are from the realm of material culture and of the type collected by museums.

This document contains rules and guidelines for CONA, intended for use by the editors of the Getty Vocabulary Program using the in-house editorial system, VCS (Vocabulary Coordination System). Contributors to the Getty Vocabularies and implementers of the licensed vocabulary data may consult these guidelines as well. However, contributors and implementers should keep in mind that they must extrapolate information and guidance appropriate for their own needs and uses.


Purpose of CONA
Like the AAT, TGN, and ULAN, CONA is a structured vocabulary that can be used to improve access to information about art, architecture, and material culture.

  • CONA may be used as a data value standard at the point of documentation or cataloging. In this context, CONA may be used as a controlled vocabulary or authority to provide preferred titles and names for works of art and architecture, as well as historical names and other synonyms that could be used by the cataloger or indexer. CONA also provides structure and classification schemes that can aid in documentation.

  • CONA may be used as a search assistant in database retrieval systems, taking advantage of the semantic networks of links and paths between works and related concepts; these relationships can make retrieval more successful.

  • CONA may be utilized as a research tool, valuable because of the rich information and contextual knowledge it contains.

CONA and the other Getty vocabularies are intended to provide terminology and other information about the objects, artists, concepts, and places important to various disciplines that specialize in art, architecture and material culture. CONA contains titles and other information about architecture and movable works, which include paintings, sculpture, and a wide range of other objects.

The primary users of the Getty vocabularies include museums, art libraries, archives, visual resource collection catalogers, bibliographic projects concerned with art, researchers in art and art history, and the information specialists who are dealing with the needs of these users. In addition, a significant number of users of the Getty vocabularies are students or members of the general public.


The Getty Vocabularies are copyrighted: Copyright © 2010 J. Paul Getty Trust. All rights reserved. CONA and the other Getty vocabularies are made available via the Web to support limited research and cataloging efforts (see Companies and institutions interested in regular or extensive use of the vocabularies should explore licensing options by contacting the Vocabulary Program ( The licensed data is available in XML and relational tables formats.

A minimum record in CONA contains a numeric ID, title or name, creator, object/work type, and other fields as described below. Information in CONA is compiled by the Getty Vocabulary Program in collaboration with many institutions. Implementers should keep in mind that CONA, like the other Getty vocabularies, will grow and change over time.

Accessing the vocabularies: The timeframe for making CONA accessible to users will depend upon the rate at which contributions are received from the target user community. A target date for licensing is 2013. The online "browser" is scheduled to go live in early 2012. Licensed files will hopefully be available within a few years, keeping in mind that a certain critical mass of records will be required to make CONA useful to licensees. Methods for accessing CONA are still under development, although it is currently believed that CONA data will be available using means similar to those available for the other three Getty vocabularies, as described below.

Catalogers and indexers who use the AAT, TGN, and ULAN typically access them in two ways: By using them as implemented in a system (either purchased off-the-shelf through a vendor or custom-built for their local requirements), or by using the online databases on the Getty Web site. The databases made available on the Web site are intended to support limited research and cataloging efforts. Companies and institutions interested in regular or extensive use of the existing three Getty vocabularies should explore licensing options by contacting the Getty Vocabulary Program at Implementers who wish to provide vocabularies to end-users or use them in search engines may license the vocabularies in XML or relational tables, which are released annually. The data is also available via Web services, where it is updated every two weeks. The licensed files include no user interface.


CONA is a compiled resource; it is not comprehensive. It grows over time to become gradually more comprehensive and to accommodate new research in art history and archaeology. CONA grows through contributions. Information in CONA was compiled by the Getty Vocabulary Program in collaboration with many institutions. Institutions interested in becoming contributors to CONA should write to, explaining the scope of their collections and likely contributions.


For further information, please contact

the Getty Vocabulary Program

Getty Vocabulary Program
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA 90049







General Information about CONA





Scope and Structure



Scope of CONA
CONA is a structured vocabulary containing authority records for cultural works, including architecture and movable works such as paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, manuscripts, photographs, textiles, ceramics, furniture, other visual media such as frescoes and architectural sculpture, performance art, archaeological artifacts, and various functional objects that are from the realm of material culture and of the type collected by museums. The focus of CONA is works cataloged in scholarly literature, museum collections, visual resources collections, archives, libraries, and indexing projects with a primary emphasis on art, architecture, or archaeology.



Structure of the Data
The focus of each CONA record is a work of art or architecture. In the database, each work's record (also called a subject in the database, not to be confused with iconographical depicted subjects of art works) is identified by a unique numeric ID. Linked to each work's record are titles/names, current location, dates, other fields, related works, a parent (that is, a position in the hierarchy), sources for the data, and notes. The coverage of CONA is global, from prehistory through the present. Names or titles may be current, historical, and in various languages.



Facets and heirarchies
The primary top divisions of CONA are the facets Built Work and Movable Work.

  • Unpublished facets in CONA are used for candidate records. Unpublished facets and hierarchies are designated by a flag and the "name" temp.parent (e.g., temp.parent/candidate records)




What is a Thesaurus?

The basic structure of CONA is a thesaurus, with other types of information clustered around this structure. A thesaurus is a semantic network of unique concepts, including relationships between synonyms, broader and narrower (parent/child) contexts, and other related concepts. Thesauri allow three types of relationships: equivalence (synonym), hierarchical (whole/part, instance, or genus/species), and associative.

  • There are many fields in CONA, however through titles/names (equivalence relationships), as well as hierarchical and associative relationships, the basic structure of CONA is that of a thesaurus in compliance with ISO and NISO standards. Although it may be displayed as a list, CONA is a hierarchical database; its trees branch from a root called Top of the CONA hierarchy (Subject_ID: 700000000).

  • There may be multiple broader contexts, making CONA polyhierarchical. In addition to the hierarchical relationships (e.g., between a print and the larger volume to which it belongs), CONA has equivalence relationships (between equivalent titles/names) and associative relationships (e.g., between a sketch and the final work).

  • Most fields in CONA records are written in English. However, the structure of CONA supports multilinguality insofar as titles/names and descriptive notes may be written and flagged in multiple languages. All terms are written in the Roman alphabet (pending our conversion to Unicode in 2011).





Thesauri may have the following three relationships:





Equivalence relationships
The relationships between synonymous titles or names that refer to the same work, typically distinguishing preferred titles and non-preferred terms (variants).





Hierarchical relationships
Broader and narrower (parent/child) relationships between concepts. Hierarchical relationships are generally either whole/part, genus/species, or instance; in CONA, most hierarchical relationships are whole part (e.g., a drawing is a part of a sketchbook). Relationships may be polyhierarchical, meaning that each child may be linked to multiple parents. Historical whole/part relationships may be tracked.





Associative relationships
The relationships between works that are directly related, but the relationship is not hierarchical because it is not whole/part or genus/species. An example is a drawing that is a study for a built work.





What is a "Work" in CONA?
CONA contains records for Built Works and Movable Works.

  • Built works:  Built works within the scope of CONA are architecture, which includes structures or parts of structures that are the result of conscious construction, are of practical use, are relatively stable and permanent, and are of a size and scale appropriate for—but not limited to—habitable buildings. Most built works in CONA are manifestations of the built environment that is typically classified as fine art, meaning it is generally considered to have aesthetic value, was designed by an architect (whether or not his or her name is known), and constructed with skilled labor.

  • Movable works: The term movable works is borrowed from legal jargon, referring to tangible objects capable of being moved or conveyed from one place to another, as opposed to real estate or other buildings. It is useful to separate the two types of works—built works and movable works—into different facets in CONA because movable works typically are located in a repository, have a repository identification number, have a provenance of former locations, and other characteristics that typically differ from architecture.

  • Unique works: With the exception of performance art, CONA records unique physical works. However, CONA may include works that were never built or that no longer exist, for example designs for a building that was not constructed or a work that has been destroyed.





What is excluded from CONA?
In general, CONA does not include records for objects in natural history or scientific collections, although there are exceptions for works of particularly fine craftsmanship that are of the type collected by art museums. CONA does not include names of musical or dramatic art, titles of documentary or feature films, and titles of literature. CONA does not include records for corporate bodies, although the building that houses the corporate body would be included, even if it has the same name as the corporate body. For example the buildings of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, are included in CONA; however, the corporate body that inhabits those buildings, also called the National Gallery of Art, is outside the scope of CONA (but within scope for ULAN).




Editorial control









Review Process

  • Records are created and edited by the Vocabulary Program editors and trained, established contributors, following the Editorial Rules laid out in this manual.

  • Other records are loaded from data extracted from contributors' cataloging systems or other databases.

  • As time permits, the Vocabulary Program reviews individual records from contributors before they are released in CONA. All contributions are checked, but with less supervision required for trained, established contributors.

  • Vocabulary Program (VP) editors follow strict rules when adding new records toCONA. VP editors edit the contributors' records to comply with VP policy and practice; however, given the large number of records in CONA, editors do not have the time or resources to edit every record. An editorial goal is to have uniform and homogeneous records throughout CONA, but employing flexible standards for contributors' data means that the CONA database as a whole is not entirely consistent or totally uniform.

  • The VP collects new issues that arise during the course of accepting contributions and editing CONA. The resolutions of these issues are periodically transferred to an updated version of the manual.









Does contributors' data follow editorial rules?

  • The Vocabulary Program communicates with and trains potential contributors, to assure that 1) the incoming data will be within the scope of CONA, and 2) the incoming data will be in appropriate format and generally consistent with CONA standards.

  • Every effort is made to ensure that CONA data is consistent. However, given that CONA may be compiled from various contributors' automated records, it is necessary to allow "flexible standards" in order to accept contributions. Compliance with the critical standards regarding technical rules, structure, content, and editorial guidelines are required; however, certain other content and editorial guidelines are considered non-critical and are therefore not strictly enforced for some contributors.









Releasing the data









Web browsers

  • In 2012, CONA data is scheduled to be released online in the same way as other vocabularies' data. In the online Web versions of the AAT, TGN, and ULAN, data is updated twice per month.









Licensed files

  • It is planned that CONA data will be released in licensed files. While the date of initial releases of this data will depend upon the rate at which contributions are received, it is hoped that the first release of licensed CONA files will happen in 2013. The exact terms of licensing and release formats is still under discussion.

  • However, it is anticipated that CONA data will be released in ways similar to that of the other three Getty vocabularies. Data in formats available for licensing for AAT, TGN, and ULAN is released annually in June. The data is released in relational tables and XML. Vocabulary editors clean the data as well as possible prior to each annual release. The in-process data is also available throughout the year via Web services APIs; these files are refreshed every two weeks.









Vocabulary Coordination System (VCS)

  • VCS is the editorial system used to house and edit the four Getty Vocabularies. Each vocabulary is stored in a separate iteration of VCS. References to "the system" refer to VCS. References made to "fields" refer to data elements in VCS. References to a "record" or "subject record" refer to an intellectual record comprising all the data linked to a given Subject ID in the data structure (not to be confused with the depicted iconographical "subject")..










  • VCS uses a relational database; the database models for each of the four vocabularies are identical in most ways, differing only where necessary. See the Data Dictionary for further information.









Merged Records

  • CONA is compiled from information that has been collected by the Getty and other institutions. When multiple contributors have submitted information about the same work, all the titles and other information about this work should be merged into a single record ("merge" is a function of the VCS editorial system).









Operating VCS

  • The chapters in this manual contain definitions of the fields, suggested values, sources where the values may be found, and rules for entering the data where relevant. The fields are presented roughly in the order in which they are found in VCS.

  • While there is some mention of the functionality of VCS in this manual, detailed instructions for the system are not included here. Instructions regarding how to use VCS are provided during training.

Last updated 15 September 2010 by Patricia Harpring
Document is subject to frequent revisions


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