Descriptive Cataloging of Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and Early-Modern Manuscripts (fwd)

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Thu Jan 27 07:16:29 EST 2000

Dear Colleagues,

In the professional library world there is a "bible" for cataloguers
called AACR2 ("Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2 edition").  This
document is the basis of cataloguing practice in many tens of thousands of
libraries worldwide, and it is extremely influential.

AACR2 contains a lot of general orientation, and promotes a certain view
of cataloguing.  However, it is centrally concerned with the description
of printed books, and it does not deal adequately with the cataloguing of
manuscripts, or even with early printed books (incunabula etc.).  This has
been recognized for years, and some supplementary documents have been
circulated in the librarian community which help with these different
kinds of materials.

At long last, a formal document written at the same level as the AACR2
manual is nearing completion.  Greg Pass has written a formal set of
cataloguing rules for manuscript materials.  The draft is available
online, and I would encourage anybody interested in manuscripts to have a
look at it.  The document is aimed at professional librarians,
medievalists, etc. etc. and is bound to have a big influence on the future
of manuscript catalogues and cataloguing.

I have already been in touch with Greg Pass to note that his guidelines
lack any reference to non-European manuscripts, especially Asian
manuscripts.  He readily agreed, and asked for input on this topic.

I have been intending to provide a commentary on his guidelines, but I am
so short of time that this is difficult.

I would encourage anybody on this list to spread the word about these new
cataloguing rules.  Especially, please inform any staff you know who have
responsibility for Indian (or Oriental) manuscript collections.

We have a small window of opportunity here to get some material about
Asian manuscript issues into these guidelines, which are inevitably going
to define the field of manuscript cataloguing for decades to come.

Another idea would be simply to ask Greg Pass to rename the guidelines
WESTERN MANUSCRIPTS (i.e., adding "Western").  But this would be a great
pity, I believe.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 15:01:37 -0600
From: Gregory A. Pass <passga at SLU.EDU>
Reply-To: Electronic Access to Medieval ManuscriptS <EAMMS at LS.CSBSJU.EDU>
Subject: Descriptive Cataloging of Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance,
                    and Early-Modern Manuscripts

As a reminder, I would like to reiterate an announcement made earlier
concerning a public hearing to be held at the upcoming Midwinter Conference
of the American Library Association in San Antonio, TX, for comment and
discussion on the draft document of Descriptive Cataloging of Ancient,
Medieval, Renaissance, and Early-Modern Manuscripts.  This session is
sponsored by the Bibliographic Standards Committee of RBMS/ACRL and will be
held on Friday, January 14, 8-10pm at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention
Center, rm. 208.  All are welcome to attend.


I would like to announce the availability of the draft text for a new set of
manuscript cataloging standards entitled DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGING OF ANCIENT,
economically as AMREMM).  These rules are intended as a supplement to
AACR2 -- similar in scope to Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Books (DCRB) and
Archives, Personal Papers, and Manuscripts (APPM) -- to allow creation of
item-level MARC catalog records for pre-modern manuscript materials in
library on-line public access catalogs as well as in the national
bibliographic utilities OCLC or RLIN.  The document is available in a
variety of file formats at URL: <>.  A public
hearing will be held to invite comment and discussion on these proposed
cataloging rules at the Midwinter meeting of the American Library
Association in San Antonio, TX, on Friday, January 14, 2000, from 8:00 pm to
10:00 pm.  Scheduling and other information can also be found in the RBMS
Newsletter, pp. 2-3.  All are welcome to attend.

These cataloging rules have been developed under the auspices of Electronic
Access to Medieval Manuscripts (URL: <>), a
project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in cooperation with the
Bibliographic Standards Committee of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section
of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the
American Library Association, and tested at the Vatican Film Library at
Saint Louis University.  The Electronic Access project was instituted in
1996 with the aim of increasing the ability of researchers "to access
medieval manuscript catalog records, research information, images, text and
tools" in a more efficient manner through electronic means.  This project
brought together an international group of manuscript specialists comprising
catalogers, historians, art historians, and curators from the library and
academic communities to advise on the formulation of these rules.  These
rules represent a broad consensus in defining the categories of information
that an on-line manuscript description should contain and how these records
should be implemented according to AACR2 in a MARC environment.  It is hoped
that the combination of record structure and content information that is
offered will be flexible enough to accommodate a range of scholarly
manuscript descriptions.

Comments or questions are invited and may be directed to me at the address
given below.

Thank you.

Gregory Pass

Gregory Allan Pass
Assistant Librarian, Vatican Film Library
Pius XII Memorial Library
Saint Louis University
3650 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri  63108
Tel. (314) 977-3096 / Fax (314) 977-3108
passga at

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