SEPIADES. Recommendations for cataloguing photographic collections

  • SEPIADES. Recommendations for cataloguing photographic collections, European Commission on Preservation and Access, Amsterdam, 2003
  • User manual SEPIADES tool version 1.1., 2004 (SEPIADES. Software tool - ZIP file)


SEPIADES (SEPIA Data Element Set) is a multilevel data element set to catalogue photographic collections.

Apart from 21 core elements, it contains many suggestions for use of specific, detailed elements. It was developed in the framework of the SEPIA (Safeguarding European Photographic Images for Access) project, an eu-funded project on preservation and digitization of photographic collections that ran from 1999 until 2003.

The highlights:

  • Multilevel description. Cataloguers determine the structure of the hierarchy and are free to create any number of levels and sublevels they require.
  • Institute, collection, grouping and single item. The highest level in SEPIADES is the institute level. An institute holds one or more collections. A collection is a ‘group of objects that have been brought together by an individual or organization’. Every collection consists of one or more groupings. A grouping is an aggregate of physical images that could either be a subdivision of a collection or of another grouping. Every collection or grouping consists of one or more single items.
  • Single item: visual and physical images. The scene visible on the photograph (‘visual image‘) is registered once and connected to all its various manifestations (‘physical images‘).
  • Acquisition module. An acquisition register is integrated into the catalogue, to provide a direct link between the items and their acquisition so that the information can be easily checked.
  • SEPIADES software tool. In close cooperation with the working group, the Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information Services (NIWI) developed a software tool to implement the model as formulated in the Sepiades report.


It is aimed at all those involved in cataloguing photographic.