This manual covers the cataloging of most of the printed material (books, music, graphics) in Houghton's collections. Its focus is special collections cataloging. It is a tool for assisting catalogers in working in the Aleph and MARC-based environment, so an obvious exception to this is the printed ephemera cataloged into OASIS. Also covered are other formats that are usually (but not always) cataloged into HOLLIS, such as drawings and realia. Manuscript cataloging for collections and single item manuscripts is described in separate documents. Material cataloged into VIA also requires separate guidance not covered in this document.
It is recognized that some of the Rare Book Team's time is spent on what is not normally considered traditional "rare book cataloging." Examples of this work are the cataloging of reference books and modern collection material, database clean-up, collection-level descriptions, and expedited cataloging. The RBT has sought to document decisions about the treatment of such material here as they are made.
This manual will continually be added to and changed in light of conversations and developments in cataloging practice both locally and internationally.
In this manual, "Houghton" generally refers Houghton Library, the Harvard Theatre Collection, the Poetry Room, and any other collections administered by Houghton Library, unless specific exception is made.
- Houghton's collections are extraordinarily rich and diverse, and they contain many unique or nearly unique items. Preserving the intellectual record, physical evidence, and history of these collections is a high priority.
- It is impossible to predict which materials acquired today will be most highly valued by future generations.
- Houghton's collections are highly significant for their copy-specific features. For many items, their research value lies more in these features than in the text.
- Houghton's collections are rich in duplicates and near-duplicates, potentially affording exceptional opportunities for bibliographical comparison and discovery.
- Houghton has a long tradition of supporting bibliographical scholarship, both by staff and by researchers.
- Because Houghton is a closed-stack collection, researchers rely heavily on Houghton catalogers to make the library's riches known to them. The more thorough and accurate the information in HOLLIS, the more useful it will be to researchers, the more they will be able to do for themselves, both in advance of their visits and on-site, and the more cost-effective it will be for Houghton to serve them. Access to Houghton collections will be significantly impaired by items cataloged improperly or to minimal standards.
- HOLLIS is not only a local finding aid, but a major bibliographical resource accessed worldwide by innumerable individuals who will never visit Harvard's libraries or use its collections.
- HOLLIS gives off-site researchers considerable help in identifying precisely which items they need to consult and in planning research visits. The more thorough and accurate the information in HOLLIS, the more useful it will be to researchers, the more they will be able to do for themselves, and the more cost-effective it will be for Houghton to serve them.
- Houghton Library benefits greatly from its participation in cooperative cataloging activities and adherence to Harvard and national standards. Likewise, it benefits greatly from its connections to the international community of scholars and librarians.