Jewetts rules - british museum cataloguing rules, Other Management

Jewetts Rules - British museum cataloguing rules:

Jewett, Charles Coffin. Smithsonian report on the construction of catalogues of libraries and their publication by means of separate stereotyped titles, with rules and examples. - 2nd ed. -Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms, 1961. - Reprint of the original 2nd ed. published Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1853. 

A small pamphlet, this was first published in 1852 under the title, The Smithsonian Report on the construction of catalogues of libraries, and their publication by means of stereo-titles contained a proposal and a plan of action envisioning a cooperative system of cataloguing through the application of the technology of stereo-typed plates for producing and printing of library catalogues. The second edition published in 1853 included 33 rules written by Jewett. 

The Smithsonian Institution (Washington) was established in 1846 with the bequest made by the English chemist, James Smithson. The objective was to promote the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." What should be the means to accomplish this objective became a contentious issue. Charles Coffin Jewett, the librarian and assistant secretary of the institution felt that the best means to accomplish the objective was to develop the Smithsonian into a national library with legal depository rights incorporating as well a union catalogue of the holdings of all the public libraries in the United States which would eventually become a universal catalogue. His impassioned and eloquent assertion, "how much this would promote the progress of knowledge how much, by rebuking the rashness which rushes into authorship, ignorant of what others have written, and adding to the mass of books without adding to the sum of knowledge" is reflective of his strong conviction in his undertaking. Joseph Henry, a scientist, and the secretary, who was Jewett's superior held altogether a different view. He felt that the Smithsonian institution served the cause better by providing financial assistance to the scientists to carry out their research. This clash of interests and views, "emblematic of the antagonism between the two cultures, Jewett representing literature and Henry, science reached its denonement with Jewett's dismissal from the Smithsonian." 

Jewett's proposal envisioned a national system  of  centralised and cooperative cataloguing applying the  then available, technology of stereotyped plates. The advantages claimed were economy in the cataloguing costs of individual libraries since printing and updating of the book catalogues was highly expensive while they still remained less efficient. So it could be obviated if each bibliographical record were stereotyped on a separate plate which would permit mass production of catalogues at a relatively reduced cost. Further it was said that the system would also ensure elimination of duplicate efforts, greater measure of  uniformity, easy location  of source for the books, greater  access to bibliographic information, possible exchange  of materials among the libraries, an American national bibliography and a  future universal bibliography.

His plan called for preparation and submission of entries by the individual libraries according to the rules (drafted by Jewett), getting each single entry stereotyped and producing catalogues on demand by simply interfiling the new entries and printing. The process was inexpensive and so every library could as well have the required version of the catalogue (i.e., either the classed or alphabetical catalogue) compiled and printed. The use of stereotyped plates further would facilitate compilation of the union catalogue. The Smithsonian Institution as the national library and central agency would coordinate the entire programme. Besides maintaining the union catalogue it would also bring out monthly bulletin, annual and quinquennial catalogues for the books received by it through copy right. The idea was far ahead of the times and for want of wide support and for lack of proper technological material means, the project however, did not succeed. 

According to Jewett, a library catalogue was a list of titles of books designed to show what the particular library contained. It was generally not required to give any more information "than the author gives or ought to give in the title page, and publisher, in imprint or colophon; except the designation of the form which is almost universally added. Persons who needed more information should seek for it in bibliographical dictionaries, literary histories or similar works". This means that he was advocating minimum description in catalogues based on the title page so that those who needed more bibliographical details would find them in bibliographical reference sources.  


Like Panizzi, Jewett preferred alphabetical catalogue. His rules were basically the same as those of Panizzi but for minor modifications, He established the concept of corporate body more clearly and sought to place them in one category by providing for entry under the name of the body instead of place name or other, with cross references made from important substantive/adjective to the principal word in the name of the body. To achieve uniformity, he wanted anonymous works to be entered under the first word of the title (not an article) with cross-references made from sought terms. Pseudonymous works required entry under pseudonyms followed by the word, pseudo. If the author had used his real name in any edition, continuation or supplement, the pseudonym was not to be chosen for entry. Instead the real name was to be preferred because the author's identity is no more concealed. 

For Jewett, anode was intended to promote uniformity in cataloguing among the libraries. He therefore, intended his code to be adopted by all libraries. For this purpose, he prescribed style, extended the principle of corporate entry, preferred the use of pseudonym (unless the real name also appeared in the publications) and required entry under first word than the subject word of the title for anonymous works (because title subject words were not uniformly standard ones). He established a principle that could be called the principle of standardization by stating that "the rules for cataloguing must be stringent and should meet so far as possible, all difficulties of detail. Nothing, so far can be avoided should be left to the individual taste or judgment of the cataloguer". He favoured legalistic approach, i.e., and a rule to meet every cataloguing problem and appeared to have preferred an enumerative code. Suffice to say that Jewett's rules like other codes of the time exerted great influence on the future development of catalogues and catalogue codes.

Posted Date: 11/9/2012 12:23:23 AM | Location : United States

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