L-30. Rare Book Cataloging

Deborah J. Leslie

Assisted by Brenna Bychowski

“Every single day was as useful and relevant as the last. I’m walking away not only a better, ‘sleeker’ cataloger, but an inspired one as well!” — 2017 student

Course Length: 30 hours
Course Week: 5–10 June 2022
Format: in person, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA
Fee: $1,395

Aimed at catalogers who find that their present duties include (or shortly will include) the cataloging of books in their rare materials or special collections and want to be trained in applying Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books). Heavy emphasis will be placed on books of the hand-press era, with some consideration of nineteenth- and twentieth-century books in special collections. Topics include:

  • application of codes and standards, especially DCRM(B)
  • transcription, collation, and physical description
  • concepts of edition, impression, issue, state
  • genre/form terms, relationship designators, other special files
  • copy-specific description
  • cataloging policy in institutional contexts

This course is restricted to working catalogers experienced in AACR2 and/or RDA and MARC 21, and general cataloging principles and practices. No prior knowledge of early books is necessary. The goal of the course is to provide instruction and practice in each of the primary elements of the rare book catalog record, so that students will be equipped to catalog their institution’s rare books and special collections materials to national standards. Please note that this course covers printed monographs only—not serials, manuscripts, maps, music, graphics, or scrapbooks.

Special note on RDA: instruction emphasis is for classic DCRM(B), that is, DCRM(B) as published, which has its basis in AACR2. However, RDA-compliant DCRM(B) will be addressed throughout the course and will be accommodated in classroom exercises.

Application Requirements: In their personal statement, applicants should describe their experience with machine-readable AACR2 and/or RDA cataloging, provide a brief description of the types and date range of materials they expect to catalog with DCRM(B), and whether they are expected to produce RDA-compliant records at their home institutions. In addition, applicants are required to submit 1–3 typical bibliographic records of materials they are currently cataloging, preferably original cataloging of modern books.

Course History

Deborah J. Leslie teaches this course, generally once or twice per year, assisted by Brenna Bychowski.
Deborah J. Leslie teaches this course, generally once or twice per year.
Eric Holzenberg teaches this course.
Suzy Taraba teaches this course.
Suzy Taraba & Stephen Young co-teach this course.
John Lancaster & Earl Taylor co-teach this course.

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
  • Evaluations for this course:

Related Courses


Deborah J. Leslie

Deborah J. Leslie

Deborah J. Leslie is Senior Cataloger at the Folger Shakespeare Library, before which she held positions as rare book cataloger at Yale University and the Library Company of Philadelphia. She chaired the RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee (BSC) from 2001 to 2007 and was chief editor of Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books), as well as serving as an advisor for Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Serials) and chair of the DCRM Steering Group. She was a member of the ACRL/RBMS Descriptive Cataloging for Rare Materials Task Force (2014–2017), the RDA Steering Committee Rare Materials Working Group (2016–2019), and is currently active on the BSC’s RBMS RDA Editorial Group (2019–). In addition to giving presentations and workshops on rare book cataloging in the United States and abroad, Leslie served on the faculties of the California Rare Book School and the Australasian Rare Book Summer School. Her primary faculty affiliation is with the Rare Book School of the University of Virginia; since 1998, she has taught over 35 week-long courses in basic and advanced rare book cataloging to nearly 400 students.

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