Cataloging Guide

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I See Dead People's Books


Setting up a new Legacy Library

This is a basic step-by-step guide to cataloging libraries for the Legacy Libraries project. Details will vary. If you have questions about this guide, please contact jbd1 for assistance.

1. Find books

After you've chosen an individual's library to catalog, you must find the list of books to be worked from. This could be a published bibliography (i.e. Thomas Jefferson), a library catalog list (i.e Susan B. Anthony), or some combination of the two.

If the source is a published bibliography, please take note of whether or not the source is under copyright. If it is, please consider contacting the author and/or the publisher to request permission to add the list to LibraryThing. While it is unlikely that anyone would object to this project, it's not beyond the realm of possibility - better safe than sorry.

2. Create a profile

Create a LibraryThing profile for the subject (i.e. log out of your own LibraryThing account and then create a new account as though you were the subject). If the name you want is taken, consider appending Library or some other suffix as necessary (i.e. Sylvia Plath). On the profile page, please include a brief biography of the subject, some information on the sources you're cataloging from, and a profile image. Be sure to put the subject's real name in the "real name" field. Once these things are set, let jbd1 know the subject, the user name, the password and the main source for the library so that we can set up the account as a Legacy Library.

3. Get help

Recruit volunteers. Start a new thread on the group page announcing the project; this allows other interested users to easily be in touch with the project originator and provides a handy forum space for all those working on the library. The password for the account should be distributed to the group members (through private message or public post as the group decides).

Divvy up the work. Depending on the bibliography being worked from, there may or may not be handy ways to split up the cataloging-work. TJ's had chapters, while many other lists are numbered or alphabetized.

4. Catalog

This is the fun part. To save having to log in and out all the time, it is handy to access the dead person's account from a different browser (or with a different language version of LT from the one you normally use - just click the URL and sign in there as the Legacy Library subject).

I've found the most useful and easiest way to add books is by putting "author, first couple words of the title, date" (without quotes) into the "Search" box. For the best libraries to search, see Note on Sources (hint: Amazon bad, OverCat good). That usually pulls up the right edition very quickly. Without the date, there might be many. Date search doesn't work properly for all libraries, especially for books published before about 1800 - if you get no results, try the publisher or publication place instead. If the title's weird at all (or very common), I try to find a distinctive phrase and use that.

By clicking the small triangle to the left of the title information in the "add books" box you should be able to see the edition and publication information so you know which edition you're adding. Also, the search feature does not like apostrophes ... if there is one of those in the title, omit it (i.e. joyce, finnegans wake, 1976) or the search won't work.

What about?

These are general guidelines. Details will vary according to the nature of the collection and of the record of it.

Editions. If the specific edition of the book isn't known (this happens quite often), please don't enter data in the Publication or Date fields (or clear these out if they are added), and make a note in the Comments field (I usually use "Precise edition unknown") that the specific edition is unknown. No data is better than bad data.

Tags. Did the subject's library have an interesting classification system (like Jefferson's?). If so, you might consider attempting to replicate that with tags. If no classification system is known, decisions should be made about whether tags will be added by each individual cataloger, decided on by the team, or omitted entirely.

Comments. Some bibliographies include annotations or other information about the individual books (bibliographic numbers, marginalia, acquisition information, reviews, &c.). The team should discuss what portion (if any) of this information to include, what fields it should be entered into, when and by whom.

Extras. There are often things that can be added to the libraries—reviews, links, etc. I recommend that each team discuss amongst themselves and decide the best way to handle each of these:

Combinations. The team should discuss what efforts to make in terms of combining works as they're added. This can be done as cataloging progresses, or could be done once all the books are in. Medicalassistantedu.org

Most importantly, have fun!

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