Final week of my rare book cataloging internship

~April 27-May 1~

Upon reflection, my semester long internship has drawn to a close. I have read about and practiced rare book cataloging, which has just made me eager to learn more. I look forward to bringing my knowledge to whatever position I work in. Cataloging is a profession that is thought of as uninteresting, menial, and difficult, but in fact it is fascinating because you get to be an explorer of all subject areas. One of my favorite parts of my internship was handling the material since the physical nature conveys so much about the item and its history and the culture it was created in. I would be very happy if I was able to work as a cataloger. I think it is very important and essential role in the library, especially the special collection library.

Cataloging unites many different fields of study. In order to become a ‘good’ cataloger, you have to have passion and curiosity.  Even after months of cataloging, I know that I need to catalog consistently for a couple years to gain a comprehensive understanding of cataloging: how to do it properly and its affects. It is complex work that will be clarified and expanded with each book you catalog. In addition, the process of cataloging rare materials affords the cataloger an opportunity to see connections that might be missed or not as obvious in other positions.

At long last, I am faced with the momentous event of my graduation which I am concurrently excited and terrified about. I will miss interning with the helpful, engaging, and congenial staff and working with captivating materials at the Lilly Library. It has made aware of the importance of rare book and manuscript libraries. I hope to work with them again someday.


“Some Comments on the Bibliographical Concept of ‘Issue'” by Joel Myerson

This essay tackles a very baffling subject of ‘issue’ which does not have a fixed definition. Joel Myerson invokes scholars and experts in bibliography like Fredson Bowers and G. Thomas Tanselle, to name a couple. As I read this essay, I took many marginal notes in order to make sense of this deceivingly simple concept that takes time to wrap one’s head around. I think this is one article that must be read over the course of one’s career in order to fully understand it. I also think having physical examples along with illustrative analogies.

He sets up his discussion of issue through an analysis and comparison of different definitions of this term. He does not explicitly state that one is the correction definition, but gives his options about which ones fit the contemporary usage. Additionally, he discusses the effects of publishers and printers on this topic. The notes and bibliography of this essay would be a great place to start if one is interested in learning more about issue and descriptive terminology related to rare books.

I think this article is useful for anyone in rare books because it introduces historically important works in the field and presents a mulch-perspective view of a definition. It demonstrates that even with a field like rare books, and many others, there are sometimes disagreements about common definitions for terms in the discipline.

*Myerson, Joel. “Some Comments on the Bibliographical Concept of ‘Issue’.” South Central Review 5.1 (1988): 8-16.

Addressing cataloging characteristics of multi-volumes and multiple copies

~April 6-10~

This week I have been cataloging multiple copies and multi-volumes. Many of the books I cataloged were chapbooks or serially published volumes that have been bound together. The authors showcased in these books ranged from famous to lesser known authors. I practiced capturing details that are important in representing these types of materials. I learned how to phrase the wording in the physical descriptions, notes, citations and signature statements.

One of the books I cataloged was The Foundling Hospital for Wit, it was a very detailed record. I asked my supervisor to look over the record to proof read my cataloging format and to ensure that I didn’t miss anything that was essential for describing this book in the rare book cataloging standard. I had several complex records to create this week, so I tried to be as methodical as possible when documenting and checking the details of these books.

This week was really fun, but challenging. I look forward to cataloging more materials similar to these.

Two articles from Education for Cataloging and the Organization of Information

After a meeting with my supervisor, she suggested I read some articles discussing educational and hiring trends in technical services. As someone who is just entering into the profession, I would like to learn what is happening in technical services and cataloging. Cataloging will be increasingly important as we will encounter representing born digital materials as well creating developing more accessible bibliographic records for print materials.

The first article I read was “Demographic Trends Affecting Professional Technical Services Staffing in ARL Libraries” which presented an analysis of demographic data from the Association of Research Libraries. This brief article discusses “two separate-but-related phenomena:” the reduction of hiring and high levels of retirements (Wilder 54). The data is from 1985 and 2000, which is used to identify the changes in this field as well as to draw conclusions as to how these factors might affect the future of technical services.

The second article was “Cataloging or Knowledge Management: Perspectives of Library Educators on Cataloging Education for Entry-Level Academic Librarians.” This article is about a subject which affects Library Science students and new librarian who are interested in cataloging. The authors surveyed library educators based on the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services Education Policy Statement. From the survey and previous discussions of this topic the authors explicate a number of competencies.

Both of these articles are important for librarians, especially librarian students. I became more familiar the vocabulary used in the cataloging profession. In addition, I can use these competencies to shape my own education in order to learn more about cataloging. After reading this article, I am interested in the state of current cataloging education. A study exploring whether cataloging course are requirements for the M.L.S. degree and how the course is offered (i.e. in a physical or online environment). It would be helpful for the profession and those studying to be cataloger to see the impact of the changes identified in Turvey and Letarte’s article.

*Wilder, Stanley J. “Demographic Trends Affecting Professional Technical Services Staffing in ARL Libraries.” In Education for Cataloging and the Organization of Information, edited by Janet Swan Hill, 53-57.New York: The Haworth Information Press, 2002.

*Turvey, Michelle R. “Cataloging or Knowledge Management: Perspectives of Library Educators on Cataloging Education for Entry-Level Academic Libraries.” In Education for Cataloging and the Organization of Information, edited by Janet Swan Hill, 165-187.New York: The Haworth Information Press, 2002.

The curious life of paper

In a chapter I read from A Guide to Early Printed Books and Manuscripts, Mark Bland, the author, describes the important advantages of using paper as a medium for printing and use in a codex over other writing formats. Paper has characteristics which yield information for bibliographic description and provenance investigation. With this in mind, the author presents paper through several different lenses. These different perspectives offer various types of information about paper that catalogers can use to identify the maker, the origin of the paper, and the purpose for making it. Paper has intrinsic value for certain fields of study such as book history, descriptive bibliography, and art history, to name a few. The author introduces paper with terms that the field uses, but in a way that is understandable for novices.

A considerable part of the chapter is devoted to evidence found in and on paper as well as methods of analysis and description. These sections are very useful because it describes steps that catalogers can employ to analyze paper. Throughout this chapter, the author presents opportunities to contemplate about what this evidence can mean to the study of paper and related topics. As I was reading this document, I wrote many questions that I was prompted to think about.

As a MLS student who is interested in rare books, I found this article informative and a great bibliographical resource for other materials about paper. I am eager to find out more about paper and all it characteristics. One particular attribute that is most fascinating is the watermark. Watermarks can reference and indicate important information about for whom the paper was made, when and where. Since this chapter was readable and didactic, I would like to read the rest of the book to see what it says on other topics.

*Bland, Mark. “Paper and Related Materials.” In A Guide to Early Printed Books and Manuscripts, 22-48. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

“Description and Access in Rare Books Cataloging: A Historical Survey” by Beth M. Russellals

Beth Russell’s article is a comprehensive survey of rare book cataloging. The historical approach Russell employs to explicate rare book cataloging and its relation to other types of cataloging helps to connect all the different components that compose this type of description. Rare book cataloging practices and codes have been influences by “normal” cataloging and descriptive bibliography. In addition, she discusses the hallmarks of rare book cataloging such as title page transcription, format and collation, notes, and added access points. These are not characteristics that are difficult to include in a bibliographic record, but they just take practice and handling a lot of books.

Russell was thorough in her analysis of what feeds into rare book cataloging. This type of cataloging is a mixture of history, provenance, representation, and access. This is documented in her description of how rare book cataloging developed and transitions between different cataloging rules. She address the subject through different perspectives and attempts to describe the differences between cataloging practices.

Russell’s in depth look at rare book cataloging is important to the field of rare books and manuscripts and to the field of cataloging. The execution and skillful research exhibited in this paper made a so called tedious subject very interesting. Rare book cataloging is engaging and akin to a historical investigation. This article should be read all those MLS students interested in or entering the rare books field, in particular rare book cataloging. It is an excellent source for the history and characteristics of rare book cataloging.

*Russell, Beth M. “Description and Access in Rare Books Cataloging: A Historical Survey.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 35.3-4 (2013): 491-523.

A pleasing variety of books to catalog

~March 23-27~

I was cataloging several different types of books this week. Most of them were from the 1700s to 1800s.  They all presented unique challenges, but I was able to solve them through research and with the assistance of my intelligent, helpful supervisor. I continued cataloging a book of bound broadsides which was a selection of Irish popular songs. The book was really fun to catalog, since I recognized these songs as ones I sung in choir.

A Pleasing Variety is a compilation of articles by famous authors. I had difficulties creating access points for this record because the title page and each of the entries simply repeated the last name of the authors. I was not thinking that the authors could be the famous Pope, Sterne, or Johnson. But to my happy surprise, the authors were one in the same. I consulted my supervisor and she said that given the time of the publication that they were proper choices to make up a book called pleasing variety.

I also had problems with finding Anne Walsh, the Irish Girl, and the Robert and Margaret Ship. I asked my supervisor about Anne who suggested it might be a fictional character used in multiple works. Sadly, the ship is still a mystery for now.

One morning, I looked up Program for Cooperative Cataloging: PCC and all the related acronyms. I found the web documents describing these important authority and cooperative programs very useful and understandable.

I reviewed the order in which general notes (MARC Field 500) go in. Even though there is not a prescribed order I wanted to know how the Lilly and its catalogers address this field. This ordering system also goes for the local, item specific field 590.

Additionally, I addressed the bound-withs in my workflow. I found them uncommonly easy for how difficult they sound. I will need more practices doing the particular steps associated with this type of item, but I think I can handle the dreaded bound-withs.

Interning over spring break

~March 17-20th~

This blog post covers the happenings over spring break. I was back in the swing of retrospective cataloging. Most of these materials are chapbooks or unbound printings of didactic, religious materials. Cataloging this type of ephemera is intriguing because it affords the cataloger an opportunity to see what types of printed materials were circulating. I also think it is important to understand what was preserved out of all the ephemera that was available.

On Saint Patrick’s Day, I accosted bound-with publications. I searched for a definition for bound-withs online; and to my surprise, I found a useful resource. Pennsylvania  State University Libraries created a resource for their catalogers to answer question such as: What is a bound-with?; How does that differ from an issued-with?; And how do I catalog these types of materials? First off, a bound-with is “an item containing two or more works bound together after publication by someone other than the publisher.” On the other hand, an issued-with is “two or more works intended by the publisher to constitute a single publication.” This are logical difference based on temporal contexts and the intentions of the publishers, booksellers, and collectors.  Instead of continuing with cataloging the item that presented this situation, I set it aside so my supervisor can help me with nuances that come with representing these items.

The books that I did catalog were items that were removed from their bindings. The indicators that can help confirm this manifestation are: pieces of the leather still attached to the spine, sewing that is going through the item (i.e. oversewn), and remnants of glue. I enjoyed cataloging these materials because they were mostly all printed from The Cheap Repository Tracts, which consisted of hundreds of moral and religious pamphlets and chapbooks. They are very interesting materials because of the subjects areas they cover in their publications. One title was “Husbandry Moraliz’d,” which offered readings for farmers. Similar to many of the other publications, it was only a brief twelve pages.

Some things I ran into were conflicting dates in OCLC records and on the Lilly’s shelf list cards. One in particular, I was able to support and reasonably conclude that the date on the card was correct, so I needed to create a new record for the item. I used several references to clarify the discrepancy between the two dates. I searched in the British Museum catalogue, The Catalogue of English and American Chapbooks, and the NUC pre-1956 catalogue. It was a very fun experience once I knew where to look.

During my time cataloging this week, I learned the value of reference resources for cataloging firsthand. I look forward to researching and discovering morsels of information about books I catalog in the future.

A bridge week between projects

~March 9th-14th~

I had one book left from the Mystery Writers. It was difficult. My supervisor and I went step by step through the creation of this record. I did have to search for Name Authority Records for some 700 fields. But after I finished I found out that I had cataloged the item wrong. So this coming week, I will learn how to properly catalog this item.

The next two shifts I returned to retrospective conversion cataloging. I created an original record. It was a metal shift because I have been thinking of creating  different kinds of records for books with other unique characteristics. I notice the variants between assorted books. I am realizing that they are important when I am cataloging. I cataloged about 5 or 6 books.

I really liked the change in pace. Once I familiarized myself with the specifics I need for these types of books, it was really fun. I really enjoy the diversity in cataloging.

Finding clues in bibliomysteries

~March 2nd-6th~

This week was spent dealing with materials that broke from the norm and ones I had questions about. I had whittled down the truck of books until I had about 15 books left including several books that I had set aside. These books ranged from novels to physical reproductions of online publications. I was met with many challenges.

I cataloged about 14 out of the 15 books. One of which I thought had incorrectly cataloged because it was bound in paper wrappers, whereas the other was hard bound. I asked my supervisors about this situation. I was told that I could use the record if it met certain qualifications and augment with item specifics. It was also challenging because I was cataloging one book in particular which was printed as part of a series. I thought this book was really interesting. I am going to read this book series.

When looking for the few serials I was assigned, I tried to find records for an individual title or a main title/ run of a series. In the chance that the library is able to add to a series, the best solution is to select a record that represents the entire run of the serial. One example is the Strand Magazine published in Michigan, not London. I cataloged this item using a record that represents the whole run. I had to keep in mind some differences between monographs and serials as I was modifying the record. For example, the call number, titles, authors, current publication frequency, dates, of publication, and lack of binding note.

Along with cataloging, I learned about the Book Industry Subject Group and the BISAC subject headings. These are useful as other access points. It is interesting because there many different thesauri in use. They can add tremendously to a record.