Manuscript note in pencil in Ferguson Af-b.30. Who would write this?
Explaining what rare book cataloguing entails can be tricky at times, but in the simplest terms you are carrying out two tasks:-
- Fully describing an item in order to make it discoverable for researchers, and…
- Solving puzzles
There are other tasks which go hand in hand with the above, but if I was ever asked to explain rare book cataloguing in 15 words or less, the description above would be a pretty good attempt.
The discoverable part can involve:-
- Tracing authorship of the whole or parts of a work where it is unclear, in order to enable researchers to focus on a particular author, editor, translator, commenter, illustrator, bookseller, etc.
- Correct and consistent transcription of title and publication information (often extremely tricky with early Latin and Gothic script texts) to assist in locating rare and useful works and their various states
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