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As Houghton collects ever more modern material, cataloging issues and ambiguities attendant to that material arise more frequently. This section is an attempt to describe local cataloging practice for modern books in a systematic way. Elements of the bibliographic and holdings record are addressed only when they differ from the manual's standard instructions; additional sections cover book club editions, uncorrected proofs, and other special cases.

General procedures

Much of the time, cataloging modern imprints will entail copy cataloging, or adding holdings to existing Harvard records; less frequently, the cataloger will need to create original or derived records. The standard to which these records should be edited, upgraded, or created will vary depending on the nature and context of the project, the rarity of the individual item, and the curator's instructions. Cataloging to DCRM(B) or RDA standards may be most appropriate for one item, while the expediency of adding a holdings record without editing may be correct for another. This principle applies to many of the decision points encountered in cataloging modern books: there is no universal right answer, so much as there is a series of informed decisions.

Bibliographic record


The place of printing often differs from that of publication in modern books. Adding subfields e and f to describe place of printing is a useful option, depending on the item.


The series area can be ambiguous for paperbacks in particular, with multiple series statements appearing on the cover, spine, and preliminaries. Feel free to add multiple series statements in 490 fields, with accompanying 830 fields if the series are traced. Check for series numbering on the covers and spine, and lists of titles in the series in the front or back matter. Apparent series statements in the preliminaries can sometimes be publisher's imprints; if in doubt as to whether something is a series, optionally transcribe it into a 500 note.


In general, recording a 505 is not necessary for single-volume literary works. If a contents note would prove particularly useful to readers, use a basic, rather than enhanced, 505: while both provide keyword access, the enhanced 505's title indexing does not translate to the current OPAC.


Modern books frequently list multiple places of publication. In most cases, it is not necessary to record these places as 752s beyond the first listed and the city of record. Whether to add further 752 fields will depend on the project.

Holdings record


Use 562 notes to describe the differences between the numerous issues, printings, proofs, and other forms that may be brought under a single bibliographic record. In some cases, a corresponding 500 note in the bibliographic record can be useful to disambiguate these variations and provide more information (a note describing two known states of an edition, for example, or one noting the existence of hardcover and paperback issues).


Provide a brief, accurate description of the binding, including the color, material, illustration/decorations, and presence of a dust jacket. Provide a more detailed description if the item warrants one (to distinguish two issues of the same work, for example). Describe bindings as "publisher's" rather than "original"; use the latter only when unsure whether the binding is the publisher's (such as when the binder is a separate entity from the publisher). Use "paper covers" to describe paperbacks. Be wary of cloth-patterned paper and other imitative binding techniques.

Example binding descriptions:

Bound in publisher's quarter tan cloth and green paper-covered boards.
Bound in publisher's illustrated green and white paper covers; in prefab (28 cm.)
Bound in publisher's navy cloth; top edges stained red; with illustrated red dust jacket.
Bound in publisher's printed drab paper covers; in CMI.
Bound in publisher's half vellum and natural cloth; all edges gilt.

Paperbacks, book-club editions, advance reading copies, and limited editions

It has been noted that standards and practices vary on the subject of when to create a new record. Two useful starting points are Differences Between, Changes Within: Guidelines on When to Create a New Record (ALCTS, rev. ed., 2007), and OCLC's Bib. Formats "When to Input a New Record" (

In general, for expediency's sake, if there are no major changes in the extent or format of a paperback, book-club edition, or advance reading copy from a prior hardback edition, add a general note in the bibliographic record for the hardback edition and add a specific statement describing the book in hand to the holdings record; include number lines and any available printing statements. Add an additional 020 if available.

For example:
500 |a Issued in both hardback and paperback.
562 |a Paperback issue.
500 |a A Book Club printing was issued from the plates of the hardback, the only distinguishing feature being the statement "Book Club Printing" on the inside of the front dust jacket.
562 |a "Book Club edition"---Dust jacket.
562 |a "Second printing before publication, May 1972"---T.p. verso.

However, if there are significant differences in the number of pages and/or in the date of publication, making a separate record for such printings is acceptable. In fact, there are times when a curator will specifically request that a separate record be made, even when the differences are negligible; within the context of Houghton's focus on the book as artifact, and considering the granularity of many of its collections, making a separate record can be justified in many such instances. If creating a new record for a printing and the printing date differs significantly from the copyright date, the option is available to record both in the 260 |c:

260 |a Harmondsworth : |b Penguin, |c c1989 (1997 printing).
008[06] t [07-10] 1997 [11-14] 1989

Alternatively, use 5xx notes to explain dates and other differences; the important thing is to justify the new record in the bibliographic data.

Limited or special editions, often issued by the publisher of a book's first edition, are a separate case: in general, make a new record for these editions. Note that limited editions will often self-identify as a run or issue of the first edition – they receive a new record nonetheless.

For example:
500 |a "Of this first edition, 500 numbered copies have been printed on special paper and specially bound."---Colophon.
562 |a Copy no. 176 of 500 numbered copies. |5 hou

Uncorrected proofs, galleys, and publisher's dummies

In most cases, add proofs as a holding to the bibliographic record for the published work. If classifying under the Houghton author scheme, proofs are generally classified as a state of the first edition. However, if you have reason to believe that the proofs differ substantially from the published work, create a new record for the proofs instead, and add explanatory notes about the differences. If in doubt, err on the side of adding proofs as a holding rather than creating a new record.
For bound proofs, add the form/genre heading "Page proofs" with a subfield 5 to the bibliographic record. Use "Galley proofs" for loose leaf proofs. Record any differences in size and/or extent in a copy-specific note in the holdings.

655 _7 |a Page proofs (Printing). |z France |z Paris |y 1997. |2 rbpri |5 hou
562 |a "Uncorrected proof" (vii, 396 p.) |5 hou

Create a new record for publisher's dummies. Add the form/genre heading Dummies (Publishing) |2 rbpri, with appropriate subdivisions, as well as a 500 note describing the item.

500 |a Publisher's dummy consisting of half title, t.p., and 5 leaves of sketches, illustrations, and page layouts, variously paged, backed by a blank volume.