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DCRM(MSS) Introduction 2

Page history last edited by hwolfe@... 13 years ago
   I.  Scope and purpose
   II.   Relationship to other standards
 III. Objectives and principles
 IV. Options
   V. Language preferences
 VI. Spelling and style
 VII. Acronyms
VIII. Examples and notes
 IX. Integrity of the copy
   X.  Precataloging decisions
XI. Preparation for Cataloging
I. Scope and purpose
I.1. Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials
DCRM(BMSS) is the first one of several manuals providing specialized cataloging rules for various formats of rare materials typically found in rare book, manuscript, and special collection repositories.[1] Together, these manuals form Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (DCRM), an overarching concept rather than a publication in its own right. DCRM component manuals for books and serials are also available, and DCRM manuals for serials and music and graphics are in preparation. Other components will be added to the DCRM family as they are developed.
State explicitly, following DACS, that these rules do not base the definition of the scope on a division between "published" and "unpublished" materials 10.2.08 -JKN
I.2. Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books Manuscripts)
DCRM(BMSS) provides guidelines and instructions for descriptive cataloging of rare books individual manuscripts, that is, printed textual monographs receiving special treatment within a repository. It is intended to serve as a counterpart to AMREMM (Descriptive Cataloging of Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Manuscripts, Chicago, 2003) for post-1600 manuscripts. Unlike its predecessors, which were intended to apply exclusively to pre-1801 imprints, DCRM(BMSS) may be used for printed monographs individual manuscripts of any age or type of production. Rare Manuscript maps, music, serials, and manuscripts of any type graphics are out of scope, with the exception of individual and special issues of serials treated as monographs (see Appendix H). However, photographic or digital reproductions of individual manuscripts are within the scope of these rules.
Wolfe (in discussion with Alison Bridger): DCRM (MSS) is also intended to fill in the gaps in DACS, correct? There are cases when even within an archival/manuscript collection that an individual item requires more description than DACS provides rules for. Also, do we want to mention that AMREMM will sometimes apply to post-1600 mss and vice versa.
I.3 Need for special rules
Printed materials in special collections often present situations not ordinarily encountered in the cataloging of typical modern publications (e.g., variation between copies, cancelled leaves, etc.) and may require additional details of description in order to identify significant characteristics (e.g., bibliographical format, typeface, etc.). Such details are important for two reasons. They permit the ready identification of copies of a resource (e.g., as editions, impressions, or issues), and they provide a more exact description of the resource as an artifact.
Wolfe (in discussion with Alison Bridger): this needs a rewrite, such as:


Individual manuscripts in special collections often present situations not ordinarily encountered in the description of typical archival and manuscript collections (e.g.  need examples) and may require additional details of description in order to identify significant characteristics (e.g. need examples) Such details are important for …




I.4. Scope of application
DCRM(B)(MSS) is especially appropriate for the description of publications produced before the introduction of machine printing in the nineteenth century. However, it may be used to describe any printed monograph, including machine-press publications, artists’ books, private press books, and other contemporary materials.
These rules may be applied categorically to books based on date or place of publication (e.g., all British and North American imprints published before 1831), or may be applied selectively, according to the administrative policy of the institution, which may choose to catalog some or all of its holdings at a more detailed level of description than that provided for in AACR2. (See introductory section X.1 for discussion on choosing appropriate cataloging codes and levels.)
Examples of the types of material covered by DCRM(MSS) include: a letter; a diary; a manuscript document, such as a deed or a will; a manuscript or typescript draft of a work later published, or intended for publication; a published work subsequently copied out by hand; or a book that was never published but circulated in manuscript form. In the case of a mixed-material item, such as a scrapbook or a photograph album with manuscript captions, the cataloger will need to use judgment to determine whether DCRM(MSS) or DACS is most appropriate as the basis of the description. (MN)
I.5. Application within the bibliographic record
These rules contain instructions for the descriptive elements in bibliographic records only. They do not address the construction and assignment of controlled headings used as main and added entries, although brief instructions relating to headings and other access points do appear in some of the appendixes (e.g., Appendix F is entirely devoted to recommendations for uncontrolled title added entries).
II. Relationship to other standards
II.1. AACR2, ISBD(A), APPM, AMREMM, DACS, and other cataloging documentation
As a revision of DCRB, DCRM(BMSS) is based on AACR2 as amended by the Library of Congress Rule Interpretations (LCRI), as well as on the second edition of ISBD(A), . The Library of Congress[?] authorizes DCRM(BMSS) as its interpretation of AACR2, 2.12-18. DCRM(B) deviates in substance from AACR2 and LCRI only when required by the particular descriptive needs of rare materials. In matters of style, presentation, wording, and subarrangement within areas, DCRM(B) follows its own conventions.
Wolfe (in consultation with Alison Bridger), draft of suggested revision (still need to add a sentence about the authorizing body): 

DCRM(MSS) is based on a combination of AACR2 chapter 4, APPM, DACS, and AMREMM. AACR2 chapter 4 lacks details and examples; APPM has been replaced by DACS; DACS does not deal with individual manuscripts; AMREMM is overly descriptive for most modern manuscripts. In matters of style, presentation, wording and subarrangement within areas, DCRM(MSS) follows the conventions of the DCRM series.


Refer to AACR2, and LCRI, AMREMM, and DACS for guidance and instructions on matters of description not covered in DCRM(BMSS). The relevant sections of AACR2 and LCRI must be consulted for rules governing name and uniform title headings to be used as access points for authors, editors, illustrators, printers, series, etc. For subject headings, numerous controlled vocabularies are available; within the United States, the subject headings of the Library of Congress are widely used. Consult classification documentation for assignment of call numbers. For genre/form headings, consult the various specialized thesauri issued by the RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee.[2] Terms from other authorized thesauri (e.g., the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials, Art and Architecture Thesaurus) may also be used as appropriate.
II.2. MARC 21
MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data is the presumed format for representation and communication of machine-readable cataloging. Use of DCRM(BMSS), however, need not be restricted to a machine environment, and MARC 21 is not mandatory. Examples in the body of DCRM(BMSS) are shown using ISBD punctuation; use of MARC 21 coding appears only in some of the appendixes. Catalogers using MARC 21 should follow MARC 21 documentation for input, and be aware of how their bibliographic systems interpret MARC 21 codes to automatically generate display features. This usually means, for example, that the cataloger omits punctuation between areas, parentheses enclosing a series statement, and certain words prefacing formal notes.
III. Objectives and principles
The instructions contained in DCRM are formulated according to the objectives and principles set forth below. These objectives and principles seek to articulate the purpose and nature of specialized cataloging rules for rare materials. They are informed by long-accepted concepts in bibliographic scholarship and the Anglo-American cataloging tradition, as well as by more recent theoretical work important to the construction and revision of cataloging codes, namely the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and Elaine Svenonius’s The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization. They assume familiarity with the FRBR terms used to categorize entities that are the products of intellectual or artistic endeavor (work, expression, manifestation, and item) as well as accepted manuscript terminology.[3] bibliographic terms used to differentiate among textual variants (edition, issue, impression, and state). It is hoped that these objectives and principles will provide catalogers, and administrators of cataloging operations, with a better understanding of the underlying rationale for DCRM instructions.
III.1. Functional objectives of DCRM
The primary objectives in cataloging rare materials are no different from those in cataloging other materials. These objectives focus on meeting user needs to find, identify, select, and obtain materials. However, users of rare materials often bring specialized requirements to these tasks that cannot be met by general cataloging rules, such as those contained in the latest revision of AACR2. In addition, the standard production practices assumed in general cataloging rules do not always apply to rare materials. The following DCRM objectives are designed to accommodate these important differences.
III.1.1. Users must be able to distinguish clearly among different manifestations of an expression of a work
The ability to distinguish among different manifestations of an expression of a  work is critical to the user tasks of identifying and selecting bibliographic resources. In general cataloging codes like AACR2, it is assumed that abbreviated and normalized transcription is sufficient to distinguish among manifestations. Users of rare materials, however, often require fuller, more faithful transcriptions, greater detail in the physical description area, and careful recording of various distinguishing points in the note area, in order to identify separate manifestations. Additionally, users of rare materials are typically interested in drawing finer distinctions among variants within manifestations than are users of other materials, including not simply between editions and issues but between variant impressions and states; many also need to distinguish between copies at the item level.
Wolfe and Bridger: query relevance of this section
III.1.2. Users must be able to perform most identification and selection tasks without direct access to the materials
Users of rare materials frequently perform identification and selection tasks under circumstances that require the bibliographic description to stand as a detailed surrogate for the item (e.g., consultation from a distance, limited access due to the fragile condition of the item, inability to physically browse collections housed in restricted areas, etc.). Accuracy of bibliographic representation increases subsequent efficiency for both users and collection managers. The same accuracy contributes to the long-term preservation of the materials themselves, by reducing unnecessary circulation and examination of materials that do not precisely meet users’ requirements.
III.1.3. Users must be able to investigate physical processes and post-production history and context exemplified in materials described
Users of rare materials routinely investigate a variety of artifactual and post-production aspects of materials. For example, they may want to locate materials that are related by printing methods, illustration processes, binding styles and structures, provenance, genre/form, etc. The ability of users to identify materials that fit these criteria depends upon full and accurate descriptions and the provision of appropriate access points.
III.1.4. Users must be able to gain access to materials whose production or presentation characteristics differ from modern conventions
In order to distinguish among manifestations, general cataloging codes like AACR2 rely on explicit bibliographic evidence presented in conventional form (e.g., a formal edition statement on the title page or its verso). In rare materials, such explicit evidence will often be lacking or insufficient to distinguish among different manifestations. That which is bibliographically significant may thus be obscured.
III.2. Principles of DCRM construction
To meet the objectives listed above, DCRM relies upon the following six principles. These principles are influenced by the general principles of bibliographic description offered by Svenonius: user convenience; representation; sufficiency and necessity; standardization; and integration.
III.2.1. Rules provide guidance for descriptions that allow users to distinguish clearly among different manifestations of an expression of a work
This principle derives from the general principle of user convenience and has implications for all areas of the bibliographic description. The principle relates to objective 1 stated above.
III.2.2. Rules provide for accurate representations of the entity as it describes itself, notably through instructions regarding transcription, transposition, and omission
This principle derives from the general principles of representation (with its related subprinciple of accuracy) and of standardization. Precise representation is of particular relevance in those areas of the description that require transcription (the title and statement of responsibility area, if present), the edition area, the publication, distribution, etc., area, and the series area), but should not be ignored in the physical description and note areas. The general principles of representation and standardization stand in greater tension with each other when cataloging rare materials. Faithfulness to both principles may require descriptive and annotative treatment necessarily exceeding the norms (and at times the vocabulary) established as sufficient for the description of general materials. The principle relates to objectives 2 and 4 stated above.
III.2.3. Rules provide guidance for the inclusion of manifestation-specific and item-specific information that permits users to investigate physical processes and post-production history and context exemplified in the item described
This principle derives from the general principle of sufficiency and necessity (with its related subprinciple of significance). Application of the principle requires that rules for rare materials cataloging provide additional guidance on access points, particularly in cases where such information is not integral to the manifestation, expression, or work described. Rules for item-specific information appearing in the note area may recommend standard forms for presentation of information (addressing the general principle of user convenience and its related subprinciple of common usage). Application of such rules presumes both a user’s need for such information and a cataloger’s ability to properly describe such aspects. The principle relates to objective 3 stated above.
III.2.4. Rules provide for the inclusion of all elements of bibliographical significance
General cataloging codes like AACR2 routinely strive for both brevity and clarity, principles affiliated with the general principle of sufficiency. In describing rare materials, too great an emphasis on brevity may become the occasion for insufficiency and lack of clarity. Brevity of description may be measured best against the functional requirements of the particular bibliographic description rather than against the average physical length of other bibliographic descriptions in the catalog. The tension between rules for rare materials that promote accurate representation of an item and yet do not exceed the requirements of sufficiency is great. Reference to the principle of user convenience may offer correct resolution of such tensions. This principle is related to all of the objectives stated above.
III.2.5. Rules conform to the substance and structure of the latest revision of AACR2 to the extent possible; ISBD(A) serves as a secondary reference point
How might we want to modify this for DCRM(MSS)? (MN)
This principle relates to general principles of standardization and user convenience (with the latter’s subprinciple of common usage). DCRM assumes that users of bibliographic descriptions constructed in accordance with its provisions operate in contexts where AACR2 (often as interpreted and applied by the Library of Congress) is the accepted standard for the cataloging of general materials. Therefore, DCRM uses existing AACR2 vocabulary in a manner consistent with AACR2; any additional specialized vocabulary necessary for description and access of rare materials occurs in a clear and consistent manner in DCRM rules, appendixes, and glossary entries. DCRM does not introduce rules that are not required by differences expected between rare and general materials. Numbering of areas within DCRM conforms to the structure of ISBD as implemented in AACR2. When an existing AACR2 rule satisfies the requirements of cataloging rare materials, DCRM text is modeled on AACR2 text (substituting examples drawn from rare materials for illustration). In cases where the language of AACR2 is not precise enough to convey necessary distinctions or may introduce confusion when dealing with rare materials, DCRM uses carefully considered alternative wording. Wording of relevant ISBD(A) standards was also considered when deviating from AACR2.
III.2.6. Rules are compatible with DCRB except in cases where changes are necessary to align more closely to current revisions of AACR2 or to conform to the above principles
This principle relates to general principles of standardization and user convenience (with the latter’s subprinciple of common usage). DCRM assumes that users of bibliographic descriptions constructed in accordance with its provisions operate in contexts where monographic materials in special collections were cataloged, until recently, using DCRB. Therefore, changes to DCRB cataloging practices were introduced only after careful consideration of the value or necessity of such changes.
IV. Options
Available options are indicated in one of three ways.
ê       Alternative rule  designates an alternative option which affects all or several areas of the description, and which must be used consistently throughout. In DCRM(BMSS), alternative rules apply to the transcription of original punctuation and to the creation of separate records for individual impressions, states, binding variants, or copies or drafts.
ê      “Optionally” introduces an alternative treatment of an element.
ê      “If considered important” indicates that more information may be added in a note, and thus signals choices for more or less depth in the description. This phrase covers the entire range between best practice on the one end, and highly specialized practices on the other.
The cataloging agency may wish to establish policies and guidelines on the application of options, leave the use of options to the discretion of the cataloger, or use a combination of the two.
V. Language preferences
DCRM(B) is written for an English-speaking context. Cataloging agencies preparing descriptions in the context of a different language should replace instructions and guidelines prescribing or implying the use of English into their preferred language (see 4B3-4, 4B8-12, 4E, and areas 5 and 7).
VI. Spelling and style
DCRM(B) uses Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition, as its authority in matters of spelling, and in matters of style, the fifteenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
VII. Acronyms
AACR2           Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, second edition
AMREMM       Descriptive Cataloging of Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Manuscripts
APPM               Archives, Personal Papers, and Manuscripts
BDRB              Bibliographic Description of Rare Books
BIBCO            Monographic Bibliographic Program of the PCC
CC:DA            Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access, Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, American Library Association
DACS               Describing Archives: A Content Standard
DCRB             Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Books
DCRM            Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials
DCRM(B)       Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books)
DCRM(G)        Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphic Materials)
DCRM(M)        Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Music)
DCRM(MSS)   Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Manuscripts)
ISBD(A)          International Standard Bibliographic Description for Older Monographic Publications (Antiquarian)
LC                   Library of Congress
LCRI               Library of Congress Rule Interpretations
PCC                Program for Cooperative Cataloging
RAD                 Rules for Archival Description
RBMS             Rare Books and Manuscripts Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association
RDA                Resource Description and Access
SAA                Society of American Archivists
VIII. Examples and notes
VIII.1. Examples. The examples are not in themselves prescriptive, but are meant to provide a model of reliable application and interpretation of the rule in question. A word, phrase, element, or entire area may be illustrated; ISBD punctuation is given as needed only for the portion illustrated.
VIII.2. Notes. The instructions and guidelines in area 7 are written in imperative form. This does not imply that all notes are required; on the contrary, most notes are not (see 7A1.5). Consult the other areas of DCRM(B) in order to ascertain what is required and what is optional in any given situation (see 7A1). The conventions for notes included as part of the examples are as follows.
ê     Note” indicates that the note is required if applicable to the situation.
ê     Optional note” indicates that the note is not required. The labeling of a note as “optional” in these rules carries no judgment about its importance (see introductory section IV); certain notes designated as “optional” may in fact be almost universally applied.
ê     Local note” indicates a note describing copy-specific information which is required if applicable to the situation (see 7B19).
ê     Optional local note” indicates that the note concerns copy-specific information not affecting areas 1-6. It is not required, but must be clearly identified as a local note according to the provisions of 7B19.1.1. Copy-specific information that does affect areas 1-6, such as basing the description on an imperfect copy (see 0B2.2), is required and recorded in a general note.    Wolfe/Bridger: all records are unique so this doesn't apply
ê     Comment” prefaces details needed to adequately explain the example, and are not to be confused with notes appearing within the bibliographical description.
IX. Integrity of the copy
IX.1. Defects and sophistication
A greater vulnerability to damage, defect, and loss means that rare materials, especially older printed materials, are less likely than modern materials to be in a perfect or complete state when they reach the cataloger. One of the cataloger’s tasks is to ascertain (within reasonable constraints) whether and how much the copy  manuscript in hand deviates from its original state. as issued. Imperfections and defects are usually easy to spot. Harder to spot during casual examination are replacement leaves, plates, or sections from another copy, and the cataloger is not expected to verify the integrity of each leaf in a publication unless there is reason to suspect that the copy in hand may have been made up, doctored, or falsified (“sophisticated”). Bibliographers’ and booksellers’ descriptions are the usual source of such information.
Bridger: I think this section needs to be reworked in some way, because integrity of the item is important but in a different way. A manuscript may have been separated and be in two (or more) hands. Pages may be missing. Pages may have been added at a later date either because it was doctored or it was part of its “natural” life.
                IX.2. Dust jackets
In the context of rare materials cataloging, dust jackets issued by the publisher are appropriately considered part of a publication, and are included in these rules as prescribed sources for areas 2, 4, and 6. Dust jackets often contain valuable information not found in any other source in the publication. Their easy detachability, however, coupled with their original function as protection for the binding only until it was safely in the hands of a reader, pose considerable difficulties for the rare materials cataloger. A fine dust jacket from a poor copy may have been exchanged with a poor dust jacket from a fine copy; the dust jacket of an original printing may end up on the copy of a later manifestation, and so on. When considering whether to transcribe information that appears only on a dust jacket, consider that the dust jacket was issued with the publication, unless there is reason to suspect otherwise.
X. Precataloging decisions
Before a bibliographic record can be created for a monograph, or group of monographs, awaiting cataloging in an institution’s special collections, appropriate decisions must be made regarding the array of descriptive options available to the cataloger. These precataloging decisions include: determining whether DCRM(BMSS) or AACR2 rules will govern the description, choosing the level of cataloging that will be applied, and determining the extent to which various options in the rules will be exercised.
Because DCRM(BMSS) was written to address the special needs of users of rare materials manuscripts, it is likely to be the appropriate cataloging code for the majority of printed monographs individual manuscripts held in special collections. However, for some categories of materials manuscripts, the cataloging objectives (see introductory section III) may be met by use of AACR2 or by the application of options within the DCRM(BMSS) and DACS rules that permit less detail in the description. Full-level DCRM(BMSS) records that employ all possible descriptive options will not necessarily be the best choice for every item.
The following section provides guidance for catalogers and cataloging administrators faced with these decisions and identifies some of the institutional and contextual factors that should be taken into consideration. It assumes that certain routine choices will already have been made, such as whether the encoding standard for the description will be MARC 21 or EAD and whether a resource issued as part of a monographic series or multipart monograph individual items within a larger collection will be analyzed.
Institutions may promote efficiency by setting cataloging policies for specific categories of materials in their collections rather than making decisions on an item-by-item basis. For example, an institution may decide to catalog all pre-1830 books using DCRM(B), trace printers and booksellers for all pre-18th-century books, but give signature statements and expansive descriptive notes for 15th- and 16th-century books only. It may choose to catalog all later books according to AACR2, but add selected genre/form or provenance name headings. It may decide that collection-level cataloging is sufficient for brochures. A mechanism for easily making exceptions to general cataloging policy is desirable as well. If, for example, an institution buys a manuscript notable for its unusual format or handwriting style, a curator buys a book for its notable cloth binding, description of and access to the binding these features ought to be given in the bibliographic record, even if it is not the institution’s usual policy to describe bindings them.
X.1. Decisions to make before beginning the description
X.1.1. Item-level vs. collection-level description
Determine whether the material will receive item-level description, collection-level description, or some combination of the two.
Item-level cataloging represents the normative application of the DCRM(MSS) rules. Guidelines for creating collection-level descriptions are found in Appendix B DACS. Collection-level cataloging is usually faster than item-level—sometimes dramatically so—but is attended by such a substantial loss of specificity that its use as the sole final cataloging for a group of items should be chosen only after careful consideration. The lack of specificity can be mitigated through provision of some sort of item-level control, such as an inventory list, finding aid, or database, and such an approach is highly recommended. Collection-level cataloging of rare materials is most suitable when items have minimal value in themselves but derive value as part of a collection. Use of collection-level control by itself may be appropriate when users are unlikely to be seeking known items, or the risk of inadvertent purchase of duplicate individual items is considered insignificant. Collection-level control alone is unlikely to provide adequate evidence to identify materials following a theft.
A combination approach would entail individual cataloging of all or selected items in the collection in addition to the creation of a collection-level record. Such an approach may involve phased processing, whereby the cataloger creates a collection-level record to provide immediate basic access to the collection, and then later creates item-level records for priority items as time and resources permit.
When NOT to catalog at the item level [from SAA workshop, "Applying DACS to Single-Item Manuscript Cataloging"]:
  • Items have low high research value relative to other holdings
  • Material has low high financial value
  • Material has little local significance
  • When standardized subject access and contextualization are low priorities
  • You have other priorities with limited resources
X.1.2. Cataloging code: AACR2 DACS vs. AMREMM vs. DCRM(BMSS)
Determine which cataloging code will govern the description. Both Each codes contains optional rules in addition to the required ones, and each allows varying levels of cataloging depth.
In item-level bibliographic records, use of AACR2 results in a description that highlights the basic features of a publication and obscures some of the differences between manifestations or between variants of a single manifestation. AACR2 is generally considered to be easier and quicker to apply than DCRM(B). AACR2 is most suitable when, in an institutional context, an item was acquired and is of significance primarily for its content rather than its artifactual value. In contrast, use of DCRM(B) produces more faithful transcriptions and more accurate physical descriptions. It will be more likely to facilitate differentiation between manifestations and reveal the presence of bibliographic variants among seemingly identical items. DCRM(BMSS) is most suitable when an item carries artifactual or bibliographical significance, or it is otherwise important to provide distinctions between issues, bibliographical variants, or individual copies.  Needs new paragraph
X.1.3. Encoding level: DCRM(BMSS) minimal vs. core vs. full
Determine whether the description will be done at a minimal, core, or full level. Each level has its particular uses with attendant advantages and disadvantages.
DCRM(BMSS) minimal level provides for faithful transcription and exact physical description, but requires neither notes nor headings. Minimal-level records can be produced quite quickly. Because name and subject headings may be lacking, the materials represented by these records may be inaccessible through all but known-item searches, and so should be used only after careful consideration. DCRM(BMSS) minimal level may be suitable when accurate physical description is desired but a record with few or no access points is acceptable, or when particular language expertise among current cataloging staff is insufficient for proper subject analysis. For further information on creating DCRM(BMSS) minimal-level descriptions, see Appendix D.
DCRM(BMSS) core level provides for faithful transcription and exact physical description, a full complement of name headings, and at least one subject heading, but requires few notes.[4] Core-level records may be suitable for items or collections that carry enough bibliographical or artifactual significance to benefit from detailed description and controlled heading access, but for which the omission of most notes is acceptable. For further information on creating DCRM(BMSS)core-level descriptions, see Appendix C.
DCRM(BMSS) full level represents the normative application of these rules, yet encompasses a range of potential levels of detail. Full-level records provide for faithful transcription and detailed, complete physical description. Although some notes are required (e.g., the source of the title proper if not the title page need new example), most are optional and can be applied selectively depending on the nature of a collection or an institution’s needs. For example, signature statements, descriptions of illustrative elements, names of illustrators and others responsible for such elements, and particular attributes of the item in hand may be included or omitted as desired.
Although treatment of headings is outside the scope of DCRM(BMSS), full-level records typically contain a full complement of name and subject headings. In addition to those typically given to general materials, DCRM(BMSS) full-level records may contain headings for printers, publishers, compilers, collectors, recipients, illustrators, engravers, former owners, binders, printers, publishers, etc. The name headings need not be established using authority records, although full authority work, especially if contributed to the LC/NACO Authority File, will result in greater consistency of headings and improved access.[5]
The addition of genre/form headings is particularly encouraged in full-level records. These may be used to provide access by intellectual and literary genres (e.g., Medical formularies, Poetical miscellanies Herbals, Booksellers’ catalogs) or by physical form (e.g., Imposition errors Manuscript waste, Annotations). Prefer terms found in the official thesauri maintained by the RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee;[6] terms from other authorized thesauri (e.g., the Thesaurus of Graphic Materials, Art and Architecture Thesaurus) may also be used as appropriate.
X.1.4. Bibliographic variants [Bridger: reword for mss variants, such as "Drafts, copies, and other versions"]


If two or more items can be identified as bibliographic variants of an edition variants of the same work, decide whether to describe them using a single bibliographic record or multiple records.
It is taken as a default approach in DCRM(BMSS) that a separate record will be made for each variant that represents what is referred to as an “edition” in AACR2 and an “issue” in bibliographic scholarship manuscript version of a work. However, this default approach is not prescriptive and indeed may not be desirable in every situation. Within the rules, alternatives are provided (see 2B3.2, 2B4.2, 2D2, 4G) that permit the creation of separate records for individual impressions, states, binding variants, or copies. Once the decision has been made to apply these alternative rules, the cataloger must be consistent in applying them to all areas of the description. For further guidance on the cataloging of bibliographic variants, see Appendix E.
X.2. Factors to consider in making these decisions
Consider the following factors when determining appropriate levels of description and access for materials awaiting cataloging. These factors will help to identify items that might deserve more detailed descriptions or higher priority treatment.
X.2.1. Institution’s mission and user needs
Evaluate the relevance of the items awaiting cataloging to the institution’s mission and the needs of its users. Ideally, the institution will have developed internal documentation that will facilitate such an evaluation, including a mission statement, collection development guidelines, and a listing of constituent users and their anticipated needs. The needs of both patrons (researchers, teachers, students, etc.) and staff (collection development, reference, technical services, etc.) should be taken into consideration.
X.2.2. Institutional and departmental resources
Evaluate institutional and departmental resources, especially staffing levels, expertise, and current workloads.
ê      Is staff able to keep up with the inflow of new materials?
ê      Is there a reasonable balance between resources devoted to acquiring materials and those devoted to processing them?
ê      Is current staff expertise in languages, subject areas, descriptive standards, and encoding standards adequate for implementing and/or completing proposed work plans?
ê      Is staff able to work concurrently with more than one code and/or description level?
ê      Are funding and space available for hiring new temporary or permanent staff with the necessary qualifications?
ê      Are adequate reference sources, such as specialized bibliographies, available for staff use?
ê      How many other projects are in process and what are their requirements and priorities?
ê      The regular review of cataloging priorities is highly recommended and should include discussions with curatorial, public services, technical services, and preservation staff.
X.2.3. Market value and conditions of acquisition of the item or collection
Consider the conditions of acquisition and the estimated market worth of the item or collection awaiting cataloging.
ê      Does the monetary or public relations value of the material justify a higher level of access than would otherwise apply?
ê      Have any access requirements been imposed by a donor as part of the terms of acquisition?
ê      Is the item or collection accompanied by bibliographic descriptions that will facilitate cataloging?
X.2.4. Intellectual and physical characteristics of the item or collection
Finally, evaluate the intellectual and physical characteristics of the items awaiting cataloging.
ê      Is there a unifying characteristic that would justify and facilitate the description of the materials as a collection (e.g., author, publisher, place of publication, genre/form, etc.)?
ê      Is a particular collection renowned?
ê      Do the materials have a topical focus that has recently acquired importance or urgency (e.g., due to a scholarly conference hosted by the institution or the hiring of a new professor with a particular specialty)?
ê      Is cataloging copy generally available?
ê      Were the items purchased primarily for their content?
ê      Do the specific copies have bibliographic or artifactual value?
ê      Is the institution collecting deeply in the area?
ê      Are detailed descriptions likely to reveal bibliographic variants that will be of interest to researchers?
ê      Are detailed descriptions likely to help prevent the inadvertent purchase of duplicates or the failure to acquire desirable variants in the acquisition of similar materials?
ê      Is the item or collection vulnerable to theft or vandalism?
ê      Would a more detailed description help prevent unnecessary handling by staff and researchers?
The workbook handed out at the SAA workshop, "Applying DACS to Single-Item Manuscript Cataloging," March 10, 2008, includes a very useful section on "Preparation for Cataloging" (pp. 59-61) which we might adopt. I've taken the liberty of cribbing the text of these 3 pages from the workbook below--MN
XI. Preparation for Cataloging
Does the manuscript meet your repository's criteria for single item cataloging?
How much time will you spend on:
--Examining the manuscript
--Research in external sources
--Creating the catalog record
Examining the Manuscript
  • Review any existing descriptions
  • Examine the whole manuscript, especially looking at:
--Cover, spine, pastedowns
--Annotations, inscriptions, bookplates, stamps, labels
--Pages preceding and following text
--Beginning and end of text
--Major divisions of text
--Drawings, maps, photographs, other visual material
--Tipped in, laid in, accompanying material
  • Based on your examination:

--Does this manuscript meet your repository's criteria for individual cataloging?

--What kinds of name, title, subject, and genre access are most important to your staff and readers?

What to Look For

  • What is the genre or genres?
  • What is the date or date span?
  • Who created the manuscript? Are there other associated names?
  • For what purpose(s) was it created?
  • Who has owned or used it?
  • For what purpose(s) has it been used?
  • Is any part of the text a "known" work?

--Has the work been published? When? In what versions?

--What version of the work is represented in the manuscript? Is it complete?

--Was the manuscript created by the author of the work, or is the manuscript a copy made by someone else?

Consulting External Sources

  • Consult sources such as:

--Published editions of the manuscript

--Descriptions by former owners, vendors, or donors

--Biographical sources

--Bibliographies of authors' works

--Reference sources concerning historical periods and events

--Published editions of works represented in the manuscript

  • Look for information that will affect the most important access points
  • Set a time limit for external research
Assembling Descriptive Information 
  •  Identify at least:
--Documentary form
--Time period
--Physical extent
  • Try to identify, as appropriate:
--Title(s) appearing on manuscript
--Author, uniform title, and version of a literary work
--Dates or date span
--Place of creation
--Subject content
--Associated names
--Evidence of ownership and use
  • Determine research values and appropriate level of detail for description and access
  • If you are not familiar with the genre, time period, subject matter, language, script, or handwriting, consider asking a specialist for help

[1] The term “rare materials” is used to refer to any special materials that repositories have chosen to distinguish from general materials by the ways in which they house, preserve, or collect them. Rarity in the narrow sense of “scarce” may or may not be a feature of these materials.
[2] These thesauri include: Binding Terms; Genre Terms; Paper Terms; Printing and Publishing Evidence; Provenance Evidence; and Type Evidence.
[3] A good source is Peter Beal, A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology, 1450-2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
[4] If an institution is a BIBCO participant contributing core-level records as part of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), all headings must be established in the LC/NACO and LC/SACO Authority Files.
[5] If an institution is a BIBCO participant contributing full-level records as part of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), all headings must be established in the LC/NACO and LC/SACO Authority Files.
[6] These thesauri include: Binding Terms; Genre Terms; Paper Terms; Printing and Publishing Evidence; Provenance Evidence; and Type Evidence.


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