Introduction to the Beinecke Cataloging Manual

This online version of the Beinecke Cataloging Manual is the result of a group effort spanning more than five years. During these years a committee consisting of Suzanne Rutter, Head of Beinecke Technical Services until her retirement, E.C. Schroeder, Assistant Head of Beinecke Technical Services, Stephen Young, Rare Book Team Leader, and Jane Gillis, Rare Serials Cataloger, met regularly, often on a weekly basis, to scrutinize and codify policies and standards for cataloging the printed materials held by the Beinecke Library. In making these policies available on the Web, the committee drew heavily on the assistance and feedback of the other Rare Book Team catalogers and Beinecke staff.

Pre-existing policies had been codified in a typescript manual compiled in 1978-1979 when the then-head of Rare Book Cataloging, the late Margaret Ludington, was about to retire and the first online cataloging of Beinecke printed materials was about to begin using the RLIN (Research Libraries Information Network) online cataloging system. This typescript manual was supplementary to the Yale University Library Catalog Department Manual dated March, 1979.

In the early years of RLIN cataloging, machine-produced cards were filed in the Beinecke main card catalog and special files. Many of the cataloging policies were oriented toward the production of cards and the use of card-form catalogs. In addition to the typescript manual were many scattered memos as well as separate manuals outlining cataloging practices for the Yale Collection of Western Americana, the Yale Collection of American Literature, and the Yale Collection of German Literature, some of these dating back to before the opening of the Beinecke Library in 1963. Along side these written documents was an evolving oral tradition of cataloging policies.

Until the committee began its work, little had been done to update documentation to reflect changes in cataloging policy necessitated by RLIN and Yale’s online catalog, Orbis. The Rare Book Team began to catalog directly into Orbis when it first became available in 1990. After the completion in 1996 of the massive retrospective conversion of the Beinecke main card catalog (185,318 bibliographical records) by RetroLink Associates, filing of cards in the Beinecke catalogs ceased and eventually the main card catalog was moved into the tunnel connecting Beinecke and Sterling Memorial Library. It was high time to re-examine policies geared toward card-form catalogs.

The present manual represents a stable, but not unchanging, point in evolving online documentation. The manual documents Beinecke-specific cataloging practices and points to the national standards for descriptive cataloging and access (the latest ed. of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules and the Library of Congress Rule Interpretations and Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Books), subject analysis (Library of Congress Subject Headings and Subject Cataloging Manuals), access to genre, form and physical description, and MARC coding that are used in Beinecke cataloging. These national standards are constantly evolving and are not included in this document. Most of these are available in paper form as well as online through the Library of Congress’s Cataloger’s Desktop.

The organization of the manual is best seen by looking at the Table of Contents. Section II, Cross Collection Information, documents practices pertaining to all collections. Three topics in this section provide further introductory information: Context and General Principles of Beinecke Cataloging, Monograph Cataloging, and Serials Cataloging. Section II, Collections, records information about individual collections and their peculiarities. Section IV, Non-BRBL Collections, pertains to other collections for which the Rare Book Team catalogs or has recently cataloged. The Appendix is password protected and includes information important to catalogers that, for security or other reasons, is not available to the wider public.

January 2004

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