Curiosity about the holdings of the National Museum of Malta aroused my interest in this seminar. I’ve been to many talks on print techniques over the years, so was expecting to come away as baffled as ever about how the ink ended up on the paper in most cases. It is very difficult taking someone’s spoken or written description and turning it into images of how the processes work in your head. Letterpress I can imagine, but it gets more complicated when the speaker is trying to describe the various different offset techniques.
I was pleasantly surprised to come away feeling much more enlightened. As background introduction, Krystle took us clearly, but rapidly, through the many centuries of printing history, from Chinese woodblocks, through the various hand-presses, to modern photographic printmaking. Each phase was accompanied by close-up images of the finished product, plus supporting material on individual techniques. Both were extremely useful in showing the difference between copperplate and intaglio for example.
In her day job, Krystle is in the process of cataloguing c. 4,500 prints. As she demonstrated, use of a microscope or the zoom feature on a modern phone allows her to investigate the images more closely in order to identify the technique used. This must be invaluable as many of us have struggled in the past to be confident in our assessment of images when the maker has been a master of their technique. I do hope that Krystle will do more talks or seminars on printmaking techniques. Although images of her slides are imprinted on my brain, I’m sure a refresher will be required at a future date. One day, perhaps, a good excuse to visit Malta.
1. Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books) (DCRM(B)). The main standard for rare books cataloguing is maintained by the Rare Books and Materials Section (RBMS) of the Association of College & Research Libraries and is available to download in pdf form for free.
In the days of Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules DCRM(B) was more detailed than AACR2, and so many libraries used AACR2 for their general collection and DCRM(B) for rare books. With the introduction of Resource Description and Access(RDA), general cataloguing has become more detailed and now, with the new version of RDA’s needing application profiles to be created before implementation, small libraries already using DCRM(B) are beginning simply to extend its use to their general collections. There is a helpful Statement on DCRM and RDA from the Bibliographic Standards Committee responsible for DCRM here, and an update on the DCRM RDA Revision here.
The Beginning Cataloguing course Beginning Cataloguing Rare Books: An Introduction to DCRM(B) is entirely independent of RBMS. It’s based on their publicly available materials at https://rbms.info/dcrm/dcrmb/ and our own teaching examples. We set it up to meet the needs of our existing clients and are opening it up to anyone new to rare books cataloguing.
Thanks to our existing clients and newsletter subscribers, whom we told about it yesterday, places are already flying off the shelf, and it looks like it will be our most popular course so far.
Note: Beginning Bibliography students should check their email for a discount coupon code.