Relationship designators

Relationship designators, also called relator terms, are words or short phrases that describe the relationships between entities associated with library collections.

Relationship designators in library catalog records

Many libraries routinely add relationship designators to access points in their catalogs. As their name suggests, they are used to specify the relationships between entities and items. Their current usage is closely tied to FRBR, or Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records, a conceptual entity-relationship model developed by IFLA that was foundational to the development of the cataloging standard RDA. Using established terms to specify those relationships is an important component of current cataloging practices.

Relationship designators are most frequently used to clarify the relationship between an entity and a work, expression, manifestation, or item - William Shakespeare is the author of Hamlet, August Wilhelm von Schlegel is a translator of Hamlet into German; the Trautz-Bauzonnet firm is the binder of a particular edition of Hamlet; Howard T. Goodwin is the former owner of a particular copy of that edition. Relationship designators can also be used to describe the relationship between multiple works/items (this edition is a translation of a previous text), or between entities (this person is the founder of this company).

Relationship designators at the Folger

Searching relationship designators in Hamnet

There is no dedicated search option for relationship designators in the current version of Hamnet. However, you can approximate one by selecting the "Name" search from the drop-down menus on the Advanced Search tab and entering the relationship designator you're interested in (such as "printer," "binder," "illustrator," etc.). The "Name" search indexes all the text in the 100, 110, 700, and 710 fields (among others), and is essentially just a keyword search of all name access points.

Advanced Search - name.jpg

Cataloging policy

  • Whenever feasible, add appropriate relationship designators to both name access points and name-title access points.

  • For name access points, refer to the list of preferred relationship designators below for personal, corporate, and family names.
  • When adding multiple relationship designators to one access point, add multiple subfield ‡e's alphabetically within WEMI order.
    • Exception: create separate access points with ‡5 DFo when needed for item-specific relationship designators (e.g. a book where the Folger's copy has been inscribed by the author).
  • Examples:

100 1 ‡a Shakespeare, William, ‡d 1564-1616, ‡e author.
700 1 ‡a Jenner, Thomas, ‡d -1673, ‡e bookseller, ‡e publisher.
100 1 ‡a Collier, John Payne, ‡d 1789-1883, ‡e author. 700 1 ‡a Collier, John Payne, ‡d 1789-1883, ‡e former owner. ‡5 DFo

  • For name-title access points, refer to RDA Appendix J ("Relationships Between Works, Expressions, Manifestations, and Items") for relationship designators, and enter designators in the subfield ‡i in front of the main entry in subfield ‡a.
  • If an appropriate term is not found in the RDA list, consult with other Folger catalogers to decide on an alternative. RDA makes allowance for this in I.1 ("If none of the terms listed in this appendix is appropriate or sufficiently specific, use another concise term to indicate the nature of the relationship."), but we do want to be internally consistent.
  • Examples:

700 12 ‡i Container of (expression): ‡a Plautus, Titus Maccius. ‡t Menaechmi. ‡l English 700 12 ‡i Graphic novelization of (work): ‡a Shakespeare, William, ‡d 1564-1616. ‡t Tempest

List of preferred relationship designators

  • Always use the relationship designators from the table below. These terms were selected from RBMS Controlled Vocabularies: Relationship Designators unless otherwise stated; the scope notes are taken from the RBMS list, or if not present there, from the MARC code list or RDA list.
  • Use relationship designators not included in the table below as appropriate. Prefer the RBMS vocabulary first, then the RDA and MARC lists. Use "associated name" when a more appropriate or concise term cannot be determined (see formal scope note below).
  • Always spell out designators fully; do not abbreviate. (Folger practice has changed several times to keep pace with the shifting tides of rare book cataloging, so you may encounter abbreviated relationship designators such as "comp." or "ill." in Hamnet.)

Designator WEMI Scope note RBMS MARC RDA
annotator I Use for writer of manuscript annotations on a printed item. Folger practice: use also for annotations on a manuscript. Y Y Y
artist W Use for a person who conceives, and perhaps also implements, an original graphic design or work of art. Prefer illustrator for book illustrators. Folger practice: use for graphic materials, and for manuscripts when the image stands alone. For books, and for manuscript images that accompany text, use illustrator. Y Y Y
associated name W Use with a name associated with or found in an item or collection, or which cannot be determined to be that of a former owner or other relationship indicative of provenance. Y Y N
attributed name I MARC: Use to relate an author, artist, etc. to a work for which there is or once was substantial authority for designating that person as author, creator, etc. Y Y N
author W RDA: A person, family, or corporate body responsible for creating a work that is primarily textual in content, regardless of media type (e.g., printed text, spoken word, electronic text, tactile text) or genre (e.g., poems, novels, screenplays, blogs). Use also for persons, etc., creating a new work by paraphrasing, rewriting, or adapting works by another creator if the modification has substantially changed the nature and content of the original or changed the medium of expression. N Y Y
binder M, I MARC: Use for a person or organization responsible for the binding of printed or manuscript materials. Y Y Y
binding designer M, I Use for the person responsible for the layout and design of the book binding. Y Y N
book designer M Use for the person or body responsible for the entire graphic design of a book, including arrangement of type and illustration, choice of materials, and process used. Y Y Y
bookseller E, M, I Use for the entity that buys and sells books or other types of printed material. Prior to 2016, Folger practice preferred bookseller over publisher for pre-1831 books, except when publisher or equivalent is used. Y Y N
calligrapher W, M, I MARC: Use for a person or organization who writes in an artistic hand, usually as a copyist and/or engrosser. Y Y Y
collector M, I Use for person who has brought together material from various sources, which has been arranged, described, and cataloged as a collection. The collector is neither the creator of the material nor the person to whom manuscripts in the collection may have been addressed. Y Y Y
compiler W Use for person who produces a new work or publication by selecting and putting together material from the works of various persons or bodies. Folger practice: use for someone who assembles a scrapbook, commonplace book, miscellany, &c. Y Y Y
copyright holder E, M? MARC: A person or organization to whom copy and legal rights have been granted or transferred for the intellectual content of a work. The copyright holder, although not necessarily the creator of the work, usually has the exclusive right to benefit financially from the sale and use of the work to which the associated copyright protection applies. Folger practice: use only for post-1830 Shakespeareana. Y Y
correspondent W Use for person or body who was either the writer or recipient of a letter or other communication. Folger practice: use correspondent only for the writer; use recipient for the receiver Y Y N
dedicatee W, E Use for a person or organization to whom a book, manuscript, etc., is dedicated (NOT the recipient of a gift). Folger practice: used only in exceptional circumstances, e.g., visual materials that would otherwise have little controlled access, names of prominent people to whom dedications were not routine (note: RDA practice does allow for use of "dedicatee" in reference to item, but context seems to be that of "recipient of gift"). Y Y Y
dedicator W, E Use for the author of a dedication, which may be a formal statement or in epistolary or verse form. Folger practice: do not use if the name is already traced in another capacity. Y Y Y
depicted W, E See notes on use of "depicted" below. N Y N
distributor M MARC: Use for a person or organization that has exclusive or shared marketing rights for an item. Y Y N
donor I Use for the entity who donates a book, manuscript, etc. to the present owner. Folger practice: use in 79X only. Y Y Y
editor E Use for the entity responsible for preparing for publication a work not primarily his/her/its own, such as by elucidating text, adding introductory or other critical matter, or technically directing an editorial staff. Y Y Y
electrotyper M MARC: Use for a person or organization who creates a duplicate printing surface by pressure molding and electrodepositing of metal that is then backed up with lead for printing. Folger practice: will consider using collotyper if and when that function is identified in a manufacturing statement. Y Y N
forger M MARC: Use for a person or organization who makes or imitates something of value or importance, especially with the intent to defraud. Y Y N
former owner I Use for person or body owning a book, manuscript, etc., in the past. Include person or body to whom book was once presented as named in a statement inscribed by another person or body; person or body giving book to present owner is designated as Donor. Folger practice: do not publicly trace donors' names without specific instructions to do so, typically with large collections, using "former owner" as the relationship designator. Y Y Y
funder I Folger practice: Use in the 79X for the named entity that furnished financial support for the purchase (indicated only on a gift plate before July 2013) N Y N
honoree I Use for the entity in whose memory or honor a book, manuscript, etc. is donated. Folger practice: Also use for the entity in whose memory or honor a book, manuscript, etc. is paid for. Use in 79X only. Y Y N
illuminator I Use for a person or organization responsible for the decoration of a work (especially manuscript material) with precious metals or color, usually with elaborate designs and motifs. Y Y Y
illustrator E AACR2 form "ill." formerly required. As of January 2, 2014 will be replaced with spelled-out version. Use for person who conceives, and perhaps also implements, a design or illustration, usually to accompany a written text. Folger practice: use in cataloging textual works, even when the original art work was not meant to accompany text. Do not use for graphic materials cataloging; use artist instead. Y Y Y
inscriber I Use for the person who signs [i.e. writes] a presentation statement. Y Y Y
photographer W [art], E Use for person or body responsible for taking photographs, whether they are used in their original form or as reproductions. Y Y Y
printer M, I Use for the entity responsible for the production of printed matter. For a person who physically operates a printing press, use pressman. For the person responsible for the production of printed leaves of plates included in a book as intended by the publisher, use printer of plates. Y Y Y
printer of plates M, I Use for the entity responsible for the production of printed leaves of plates included in a book as intended by the publisher. Y Y N
printmaker M, I Use for the person who makes a relief, intaglio, or planographic printing surface. Y Y Y
publisher E, M Use for the entity that bears editorial and/or financial responsibility for publishing, releasing, or issuing a resource. Prior to 2016, Folger practice preferred bookseller for pre-1831 books, except when "published" or equivalent is used. Y Y Y
recipient I Use for person to whom correspondence is addressed. Y N N
rubricator M, I Use for a person or organization responsible for parts of a work, often headings or opening parts of a manuscript, that appear in a distinctive color, usually red. Y Y N
scribe M, I Use for amanuensis and for the writer of manuscripts proper. Folger practice: use scribe only for copyists of medieval and early modern manuscripts; use transcriber for copyists of modern (post-1700) manuscripts, whether handwritten or typewritten, etc. Y Y N
signer I Use for the person whose [ms.] signature appears without a presentation or other statement indicative of provenance. When there is a presentation statement, use inscriber. Folger practice: use also for witnesses or endorsers of receipts, signers of deeds and other legal documents, and signers of Privy Council letters and other manuscripts that are in a scribal hand and signed by multiple members. Names that appear in the record anyway as main or added entry do not get signer as an additional relationship designator. Y Y N
stereotyper M, I MARC: Use for a person or organization who creates a new plate for printing by molding or copying another printing surface. Y Y N
transcriber M, I Use for person who prepares a handwritten or typewritten copy from original material, including from dictated or orally recorded material. Folger practice: use scribe for copyists of medieval and early modern manuscripts. Y Y Y
translator E, M Use for the entity responsible for rendering a text from one language into another, or from an older form of a language into the modern form. Y Y Y
typographer M, I Use for person primarily responsible for choice and arrangement of type used in an item. Folger practice: Use only when a typographer is specifically named as such. Y Y Y


For anonymous or false attributions, apply according to circumstance:

  • False attribution in resource, whether satirical or deceptive: use $e dubious author
  • False attribution in resource, innocent: use $e dubious author
  • Attribution from other source, plausible (even if a minority view): use $e attributed name, $e author
  • Attribution from other source, no longer plausible (e.g., has been decisively settled by published research): $e attributed name, $e dubious author
  • Note examples for false attributions in the source
A satire; not in fact by Archbishop Laud.
Attribution to Berkeley is spurious.

Use of "depicted" with subject and name headings

  • For depictions of known individuals: use the authorized form of the name, followed by ǂe depicted.
600 10 Shakespeare, William, ǂd 1564-1616, ǂe depicted.
  • For depictions of general types of people, places, things, etc.: use an authorized subject heading, subdivided by the century of the subject depicted, not the century the depiction was created, e.g.:
Depictions of 19th-century actors: 650 0 Actors ǂy 19th century, ǂe depicted
Depictions of 17th-century boats: 650 7 Boats ǂy 17th century, ǂe depicted. ǂ2 lctgm
  • Do not use chronological subdivisions for Shakespeare, William, ǂd 1564-1616 ǂx Homes and haunts, ǂe depicted - Shakespeare's dates supersede a subdivision. Needs discussion