Libraries, books, and information on the frontier

Rare Frontier


Progressive Bibliography

Rare book cataloging is a queer chimera. On one hand, the cataloger must be conversant with bibliography, the history of the book, and cultural studies in general, so that they can place the artifact in its proper milieu; on the other hand, Card Catalogtheir scholarship often goes unobserved because it is concealed under the cloak of unostentatious librarianship. Unlike a full descriptive bibliography, rare book cataloging does not conjure determined research project, but provides links and anchors to other projects, which itself is a sort of meta-bibliographical project.

How, then, can the work of the cataloger ever be complete? Or for that matter to be useful to scholars who need current information?

I argue that progressing towards bibliography resolves these issues by recognizing the nature of the chimera and its limitations. I discuss this idea in more depth in my recent article

“Progressing Toward Bibliography, or, Organic Growth in the Bibliographic Record,” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, 10, 2 (Fall, 2009): 95-110.

I welcome any comments, criticism, additions, or counter-points. What do you think is the interface between bibliography and cataloging? Is there one?

(Also, I’d love to put this up on a CommentPress instance, but I don’t have one installed right now. Do any of my lovely readers have such a thing they’d like to volunteer?)

One Response to “Progressive Bibliography”

  1. Kara- littlesages Says:

    Wow- happily reading archives of your work here -rad :)

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