Ok ok, so maybe that’s not entirely true. I’ve been cataloguing books in various settings for the past two years now, and I was fortunate to get a great, hands-on education in bibliographic control during my time at the UofT iSchool.
But I certainly never thought I would be taking on a project of this kind or magnitude. Through the glorious process of networking, I was put in touch with a private collector who has, by her estimate, over 2000 rare works including an Oscar Wilde collection, Golden Cockerel Press books, and a large selection of American firsts. I met with her a few weeks ago for initial consultation, where we talked about the collection and I couldn’t help but get really excited.
First, I’ll be doing research. A LOT of research. I took a rare books course in my final year of undergrad, and as I said I know how to catalogue, but this project will require an excellent working knowledge of rare books and descriptive bibliography. Because the collector wants to create an electronic catalogue and also wants it to be available to the public online, I will also need to do an in-depth comparison of different cataloguing software, select, and implement this tech.
The final product will be an OPAC aimed at collectors, with full bibliographic description and properly catalogued records for each work. The physical books will also be organized following library standards, using archival-grade materials. Eventually I will most likely create a cataloguing manual and attempt to find someone of the student variety to take my place and continue the work, for ROI reasons. So stay tuned for that, current iSchoolers 😉
This blog will be where I keep track of my progress on the project, from start to finish. In a cursory search I haven’t been able to find anything like a blog that takes you from knowing nothing about rare book cataloguing for collectors to knowing everything necessary to create a private collection’s catalogue from scratch (if you find one PLEASE send me the link).
Of couse, I’m going to assume in my writing that my audience is mainly librarians, info pro students, archivists, book sellers, and/or collectors, and so I’m not going to be shy about using technical terminology. Sorry. I’ll try to be as clear as possible, but since someone starting from actual zero knowledge of cataloguing probably shouldn’t be doing a project like this…I’m not going to aim it at non-professionals.
So I’ll update this blog fairly regularly, please feel free to comment at anytime, especially if you have informed suggestions re: whatever I’m struggling with at the time.
Also, you can hire me. Here’s my LinkedIn.