Rare Book Cataloging and Descriptive Bibliography: Spring 2016


J. Fernando Peña


Long Island University


Spring 2016


The purpose of this course is to expose students to the fundamentals of descriptive bibliography and to teach them to prepare detailed descriptions of printed books using these methods as well as library cataloging rules established by Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books) (DCRM(B)). Lectures, videos, and rare books in the Grolier Club’s collection will be used to illustrate the physical characteristics of printed books (e.g., paper, typography, illustration processes, and binding); presswork and other production processes (e.g., composition, typesetting, and imposition); and the life of the book after its production, especially provenance evidence from inscriptions, bookplates, and other unique marks. Emphasis will be placed on developing a technical vocabulary to describe the physical aspects of printed books.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to create detailed catalog descriptions of printed books and other special collections material according to descriptive bibliographical principles and DCRM(B) standards. Students will also gain a good grounding in the theory and methods of descriptive bibliography, learn how it informs and differs from rare book cataloging, and evaluate current cataloging practices and online retrieval systems on the basis of their treatment of printed books and other special collections material.

Required Textbook:

Carter, John. 2006. ABC for Book Collectors, 8th ed. Download.
Library of Congress. 2011. Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books). Download.
Gaskell, Philip. 1995. A New Introduction to Bibliography.

Link to Syllabus:


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