Dear all

This is an attempt to respond to a few of the questions which Katie posed.

Subject Headings.

We use Library of Congress Subject Headings, with an added subfield "Early works to 1800"
or "19th century" where appropriate. 

RDA cataloguing.

We have started to use RDA when cataloguing rare books. As RDA excludes Latin terms, certain words 
which have been commonly used in rare books cataloguing are excluded. For example, "sic", which has been used in the 245 
field to indicate misspelling or other errors in a title is no longer permitted. The title as it appears on the title page
has to be reproduced, with the correct title in the 500 field.

The term "floreat", abbreviated to "fl.", which has been used to indicate the approximate dates of an author's life when these are not
precisely known, has been replaced by "approximately".

Cataloguing Standards

We use Descriptive Cataloguing of Rare Materials (Books), issued by the Library of Congress in 2007, in conjunction with AACR2. It is a necessary complement to AACR2. 


The best guide for newcomers to rare book librarianship on the question of provenance is probably David Pearson's "Books as History."
It matters to us as cataloguers because marks of previous ownership (inscriptions, bookplates, special bindings, etc.) help to distinguish one copy from another. Rare book cataloguing draws much attention to the physical and copy-specific qualities of a book as well as its intellectual dimension. It is also important (regardless of the fame or obscurity of previous owners) in tracing the history of reading or recording the uses to which books have been put. Even the most "trivial" inscription may be very important.

I hope that this is of some help.

Brandon High

[log in to unmask]
Special Collections Officer
Foyle Special Collections Library
King's College London
From: CIG E-Forum [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Katie Flanagan [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 15 April 2015 14:00
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [CIG-E-FORUM] Standards and provenance

Good afternoon, and welcome to the second session of the ‘rare books cataloguing’ e-forum.

This afternoon we’ll be focussing on standards and provenance, but please do continue threads from this morning’s session if you would like to.

Provenance is one of the areas where rare books cataloguing differs hugely from other cataloguing. And, whilst normal cataloguing standards are obviously also applicable to rare books, there are other standards to use on top of this.

I’ve come up with some questions to start things off or please do ask your own on these themes.

-          What is provenance and why would you record it?

-          How should you record it?

-          Have you encountered any problems with recording it in catalogue records, perhaps using a particular library system?

-          Can you recommend any books and/or training material about provenance and how to record it ?

-          What standards do you use when cataloguing rare books? How do they differ from other standards?

-          Has anyone used RDA when cataloguing rare books?

-          What do you do about subject headings?


Please note: I work Mon – Wed each week.
Katie Flanagan BA(Hons), MA, MCLIP
Special Collections Librarian
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Brunel University London

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