Monday, February 02, 2015

Finding Information for Finding Aids

Creating finding aids for antiquarian Bibles such as those on display in the Darling Library required our library interns to employ serious research skills.

Today most publishers follow a standard format to indicate the publishing information associated with a book. This makes it easy to find the necessary elements to cite your sources in footnotes and bibliographies.

Books also often have other identifiers that help libraries organize them. For example:

  • LCCN. Books printed in the United States since 1898 may have a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) ) to refer to authoritative centralized cataloging records. It usually begins with a two-digit year of publication followed by a serial number.
  • ISBN. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN), instituted in 1970, aids libraries and bookstores in identifying exactly which version of a book is in hand (or online.)
  • CIP. The Cataloging in Publication (CIP), often found on the verso (back) of the title page, is cataloging information prepared by the national library of the country where the work is principally published prior to publication. It generally contains the same information that was printed on 3"x 5" cards filed in library card catalogs.

But when it comes to books published prior to the establishment of these standards, inductive reasoning may be required to place exactly where and when a book was published. Thankfully, there were few publishers in the mid-17th century and Bible publishing was a matter of public discourse and policy. The needle is in a relatively small haystack.

Starting with modern everyday resources such as Wikipedia they followed links under References to find more authoritative information. For instance, while we are not interested selling them, antiquarian book sellers who specialize in Bibles such as the Antique Vintage Bible Store serve as valuable resources for libraries gathering information about rare books.

Also, since one of the Bibles is written in Latin and another has a Latin preface and introduction to the Hebrew text, they have found Google Translate to be very helpful!

Look for a list of sources consulted in finding aids to get an idea of the kind of research involved in tracking down the information reported in them.

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