Case Study

Library Catalogue - Legal Library

Information Matters™ specialises in providing teams of qualified librarians to work on client premises and can provide personnel with specialist expertise in cataloguing and the collection management of pre-ISBN books and other works. Expert cataloguers are difficult to find as such skills are no longer widely taught, but Information Matters™ were able to provide a bespoke team to focus on cataloguing the Library’s main sequence of 16th to 17th Century works. 

Client: Legal Library.

Project:

Library Catalogue

Details:

The library’s basement reserve stock of over 52,000 volumes of books and pamphlets underwent an extensive refurbishment including the installation of rolling stack. However, records for the material were only available via a card catalogue and the lack of any classification scheme within the library meant that the entire collection had to be catalogued virtually from scratch.

A large proportion of the books were bound with two or three other books within one set of covers. This practice dated back from the early days of printing and obviously created difficulties when trying to create a catalogue. The library stock had many examples of this and it was not uncommon to find three or four books within one volume. The record was 96 pamphlets bound up into one volume.

The Library required an external team of cataloguers with specialist skills to work onsite on the rare books in Latin, Greek and early legal French.

A search on the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) website revealed that Information Matters™ were one of the few companies to offer this level of expertise.

The solution

Information Matters™ specialises in providing teams of qualified librarians to work on client premises and can provide personnel with specialist expertise in cataloguing and the collection management of pre-ISBN books and other works. Expert cataloguers are difficult to find as such skills are no longer widely taught, but Information Matters™ were able to provide a bespoke team to focus on cataloguing the Library’s main sequence of 16th to 17th Century works.

The project resulted in some multi-volume works being brought back together, as well as highlighting missing parts. It uncovered one confirmed rare and fragile incunabulum document from the very early days of printing (before 1500) and one other possible, which the Library had been unaware of. These were immediately moved to the rare books room for greater security. Information Matters™ staff had to use their expertise in descriptive cataloguing as well as using modern techniques to adhere to current library standards. Information Matters™ specialist cataloguers often had to use their own best judgement in areas such as deciding on the correct form of name for Latin and Greek writers and aiding the Library to make decisions on the many legal documents not covered by Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2). The actual cataloguing was a mixture of original cataloguing and downloading of suitable records from appropriate databases, and editing same as required by the Library.

Achievements

  • Finding valuable documents, which the Library did not know they possessed
  • Very important resources were identified and properly catalogued for the first time
  • After cataloguing, the books could be valued for insurance purposes
  • The Library users could gain access to many thousands of new resources after they had been catalogued and made ‘visible’
  • The project was completed in line with daily targets and always exceeded the clients expectations. 

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