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General Cataloging Hints

- Verifying Information Received with the Material
- Additional Background Research
- Sources of Information for Catalog Records
- Reference Works
- Cataloging Printed Items with a Manuscript Collection or Item

Verifying Information Received with the Material

Always confirm details in a dealer description against the originals; at times there are errors which the curator may or may not have noticed and/or marked for our attention. If you cannot confirm dealer descriptions alleged to have been derived from their examination of the originals (or for that matter, a curator's notes), notify the Manuscript Unit Head. Discrepancies may or may not need to be noted in the catalog record itself. At the very least, they should be recorded on the paperwork that eventually gets filed in the vendor file. While donor notes are less common, the same standards for confirming specific details should be applied to the cataloging of gifts.

Typos and obvious errors of fact in DBText ACQ or YCALgallup accession records, which you identify in the course of cataloging, should be rectified as well. The Archives Assistant will be responsible for maintaining any online files (ACQ and the YCALgallup files in DB Text). The Archivist, however, will be responsible for making any corrections to the paper files, including annotations to file copies of vendor and donor paperwork.

Please note that there is a difference between accessioning practice and cataloging practice. Accessioning practice is based on describing the physical nature of the material, and cataloging practice is based on describing the bibliographical nature of the material. Therefore, the collation and the descriptive information in the title will sometimes differ between the accession record and the catalog record (e.g. when an item is said to have 30 pages in the accession record and 24 pages in the catalog record. There are 24 pages with writing on them, which is what matters to catalogers, but there are actually 30 pages present, with writing or blank, which is what matters to accessioners.

Additional Background Research

Additional background research on materials you are cataloging may be necessary or desirable. This can include:

- Identifying related materials already in BRBL (cataloged and uncataloged);
- Tracking down accessioning paperwork (vendor and donor documentation from main files) for materials in the uncat backlog that are to be cataloged at the same time as new accessions;
- Compiling historical or biographical notes to place materials in their proper context;
- Doing authority work research on significant individuals represented in the materials being cataloged;
- Doing simple bibliographic verification against published versions of texts.
Remember, however, that we are not necessarily the ones doing the definitive scholarly work on the items we catalog. Extensive supplementary research beyond the information at hand should be more the exception than the rule, though some measure of checking basic reference sources to familiarize yourself, as needed, with persons and events which pertain to the material being cataloged should be part of the routine. A general rule of thumb to follow if additional checking is necessary is to limit yourself to about one hour. And, as always, consult with the appropriate curator if doing so would expedite the cataloging process.

Sources of Information for Catalog Records

For collections, follow DACS (see "Sources of Information" for each element):

- For collections with a finding aid, Chief Source of Information = the finding aid.

- For collections without a finding aid, Chief Source of Information = provenance and accession records, and the materials themselves, followed by appropriate reference sources.

For single items, follow APPM (see 1.0B1-2):

- Chief Source of Information = the item itself. Prefer "title page-type" info (captions, headings, colophon); otherwise use text itself, then other appropriate reference sources.

- Follow guidelines in APPM (1.0C) for enclosing in brackets information not derived from the Chief Source of Information, and for noting conjectural interpolation and indicating omission of part of a data element by use of an ellipsis ("...").

Reference Works

Certain reference works are stored in the Manuscript Unit, those thought to be most useful to the unit (atlases, almanacs, dictionaries of different languages). There are also many useful works in the reference rooms of the Beinecke and at Sterling that should also be consulted. All of works in Beinecke's reference collection have been cataloged in Orbis.

It should be noted that we do depend on Sterling's reference room holdings for many general works which are also very useful for us. We do have the option to expand our reference holdings as "urgent" needs are identified, but those books we do purchase come out of the general Beinecke book fund, so unnecessary duplication is discouraged.

See Appendix C for a list of works found in the past to be most useful for work in specific curatorial fields (list in progress).

Cataloging Printed Items with a Manuscript Collection or Item

If there is a printed component to the manuscript item or collection that the curator has decided should be cataloged by the Rare Book Team, catalog the manuscript component first and then route the item to the Rare Book Team through the Manuscript Unit Head. There are generally two records made with the same call number: the manuscript record and the printed record. We generally keep these records as separate entities rather than combining them through format integration, as a manuscript record added to a printed record would mean that our use of 5xx fields would be limited to local notes fields, which is undesirable.

Copyright 1997. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
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