With some people working from home, some wanting to leave face-to-face services with customers who are not compliant with social distancing rules, and some staring down the barrel of redundancy, there have possibly never been more information professionals contemplating self-employment. Here are some tips and resources from my experience this year setting up Beginning Cataloguing.
It’s been six months since Beginning Cataloguing opened for business, although we’d been gearing up and getting things ready for longer, of course. Today’s article provides a brief reflection on some things I’ve learned, in case they are of use to you.
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.
The first Beginning Cataloguing Monthly goes out by email later today, and when it’s gone, it’s gone – you won’t see this content anywhere else on our web offering and we’re deliberately not keeping a public backfile.
Alongside listings of our courses and recent publications, here’s a little teaser, in the form of the pictures we’ve used as section heads.
As a rule of thumb, store like items with like – and don’t disperse storage throughout the house. Books are a special case: Group these by category – cookbooks, coffee table books, novels, etc. – and store them where they make the most sense. If you like to read before falling asleep, designate a book zone in your bedroom – this way they won’t overwhelm your nightstand or end up in a stack on the floor.
Store books on flat, smooth shelves, strong enough to support their weight. Ideally, books should not come into contact with unsealed wood which can release organic acidic vapours. Line shelves with acid free board to avoid this problem. Stand books vertically close together and if possible by size. Use bookends to prevent books collapsing.
Although it can look aesthetically pleasing to use different objects as bookends, remember that they are placed against the cover or board of the book, and a danger they can present is pushing unevenly against this. Uneven pressure can cause warping or, over time, even detachment of a board from the spine. This is also why we shelve books of a similar size together – tiny books next to large books can similarly put the spine and cover / board of the larger book under stress.
A good bookend lays flat against the book, and holds it upright. It should be pushed over far enough that the books stay in their positions but are not so tight that we put stress on any of them when we remove one from the shelf.
So, now we’ve established what good quality bookend looks like, let’s have some fun browsing for them. There are so many styles to choose from, there’s at least one to suit every home.
The book has been around for centuries, so there’s a wide range of antique and second-hand bookends out there to suit every budget.
I found my pair of plaster of Paris dinosaur bookends in Crystal Palace, which as well as being famous for its dinosaur park, is a significant place to me. They are both kitsch and historical, which fits my style perfectly.
Online sources of second-hand bookends include eBay, Etsy, and Preloved. Remember to look for flat backs though!
On the desk in my study, I use a pair of agate bookends to hold books on which I’m working. They were a present from my parents, so they’re both functional and spark joy (as Marie Kondo says things should).
Most books are robust enough to be shelved in this type of desk arrangement for a short space of time.
You have to be careful standing books next to natural objects. Bringing things in from the garden can introduce extra moisture (even if they don’t feel damp to the touch) and even insect life. Never place books against unsealed wood, as it can release acid which is extremely damaging to books. Be careful with waxed items too – you don’t want anything to transfer onto the cover or board from your bookend.
4. Share your interests.
There are bookends themed to suit almost every hobby and interest you can imagine – #bookends on instagram includes dogs, and bicycles and Star Wars, and, of course, reading.
The shop gives the advice, “They’re so unique that they’re never going to blend in, so instead create a conversation point!” That’s true for any bookend beyond the basic.
5. Put on a display.
Bookends aren’t the only support on the market. Sometimes you might want to highlight a book by having it face outwards.
I spotted this in the Publishers Association when I was attending a BIC course on ONIX metadata last November. As well as making me want to read Kingsford’s book (which I thoroughly enjoyed, by the way), it gave me something appropriate to look at in their reception area.
With this sort of display easel, it’s important that the book is supported but not forced – never try to squeeze a book onto a stand that is too small for it. Prefer one with a base, as pictured, to one with individual strips of metal or wood running under the book, as they will put pressure unevenly on the tail of the boards / cover. Recipe stands aren’t just for cookbooks! Some shelving systems, like Ikea’s Billy bookcases, are designed the option of display stands.
There’s so much more to be said about book supports – I’m aware of not even touching on bookends for children – but perhaps that’s a post for another day.
We’re really excited about our newsletter, Beginning Cataloguing Monthly, which we’re sending to subscribers next Tuesday and which features a range of exclusive content not available elsewhere on our website, blog, or social media.
The lead feature is our Cataloguing Careers series, in which each month we ask a different person 5 questions about their route into the profession. We are absolutely delighted to feature Emma Booth as our interviewee this month. As well as being E-Resources Metadata Specialist at the University of Manchester Library, Emma is the author of the National Acquisitions Group’s report Quality of Shelf-ready Metadata, which is our Metadata Must-read for September.
The Metadata Must-read is one of the Beginnings Bookshelves, which also consists of a Classic Cataloguer, an Associate’s Choice of leisure reading, and a Body in the Library – a new book selected from our project researching crime fiction set in libraries. It’s one that we received as an Advanced Reader Copy, so is different from those on the @bodiesinthelibrary Instagram.
Beginning Cataloguing Monthly also includes a Typo Tip-off and a Metadata Muddle, for which you can suggest solutions and possibly win a free place at one of our upcoming seminars.
All this alongside listings of our events and recent publications, and a newsletter loyalty freebie or discount.