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NOTE: This section was begun in August 2009 and will be added to as needed.

Historically, asterisks were included at the front and back of many Houghton call numbers (to distinguish them in the union card catalog); this is no longer being done. When a cataloger finds a call number containing an asterisk, that asterisk should be removed.

Also historically, many Houghton call numbers had their size designation at the end of the call number. To manage electronic files such as Aleph and Aeon, size designations have been moved to the front of all call numbers (subfield "c" in the 852). If a cataloger should find a size designation at the end of a call number, it should be moved to subfield "c".

When cataloging books destined for HD, it is the cataloger's responsibility to see that the holdings record subfield c is coded "HD" (as opposed to "GEN" for material staying on-site); it is the responsibility of the end-processors to update the item record (e.g. change the Item Status "02" to "92" and Item Process Status from "CT" to "HD", etc.)

For a detailed discussion of Houghton classification see section VIII. below.

A note about historical classmark additions:

In the days of the Harvard Official Catalogue (aka Union Catalogue, or, “OC”) there were blue stars as well as asterisks, after call numbers:

  • ASTERISKS could be blue or black or gray; the color of asterisks didn’t signify. Asterisks indicated that an item was transferred to Houghton.
  • BLUE STARS go back to before 1900, in Gore Hall, where they were used for valuable books, or books likely to be used for reference.  Blue stars indicated that an item was non-circulating.

N.B.: Asterisks and stars were often confused by the people who first did the data entry from the microfiche copies of the official catalog into electronic form in HOLLIS; either they couldn’t see the difference on the fiche or didn’t know that the difference was significant: be wary.

The Poetry Room Blue Star class now in Houghton also refers to non-circulating material.

In 2015, James Capobianco gave a presentation on historical classmarks at Harvard.  The slides can be seen here:



  1. Am I correct that the reference to changing the Item Status from 02 to 92 is outdated, and should be taken out?

  2. Was a global change made on those already in the database? If not, I would leave the note. If so, you are right.