RBMS Controlled Vocabularies
PROVENANCE EVIDENCE: A Thesaurus for Use in Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloguing
Note: This text was electronically created from the introduction to the print version, to accompany and provide historical context to the database of thesaurus terms. Although not conforming to the format of the print text, it should reflect all content of the original. It has only been edited to correct errors in the OCR process, and to update MARC field numbers where changes have been made to the MARC format. Please bring other errors to the attention of the thesaurus editor, using the information found on the main thesaurus page. [12/2005, Beth M. Russell]
The Independent Research Libraries Association (IRLA)’s Proposals for Establishing Standards for the Cataloguing of Rare Books and Specialized Research Materials in Machine-readable Form
(Worcester, Mass., 1979) called for a new field to be added to machine-readable cataloguing (MARC) formats for terms indicating the physical characteristics of materials catalogued (Proposal 5), including terms relating to provenance evidence. In the same proposal IRLA requested that the Standards Committee of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of ACRL work toward developing standard terminology for use in such a field. The RBMS Standards Committee undertook the development of a thesaurus of terms, and a field for such terms (755 "Physical Characteristics Access", [now 655 “Index Term-Genre/Form”] was authorized for all MARC formats in January 1984.
In order to expedite publication of the thesaurus, the RBMS Standards Committee decided to divide it into several separate thesauri, each treating evidence of a different aspect of book production and history. To date the RBMS Standards Committee has published two thesauri for use in field 655 for special collections cataloguing: Printing & Publishing Evidence (Chicago: ACRL, 1986) and Binding Evidence (Chicago: ACRL, 1988). The Committee is currently reviewing drafts of similar thesauri for paper and type evidence. The present list contains terms relating to evidence for provenance of material cataloqued (usually individual copies of books). "Provenance” is here interpreted in its broadest sense to refer not only to former owners in the legal sense, but also to any who may have had temporary custody of the material (such as auction houses or library borrowers) and have left their mark in some way on it. The actual names of former owners are not the province of this planned access, as names can be traced in name added entry fields combined with the use of relator terms; cf. Relator Terms for Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections. 3rd ed. (Oct., 1987) [or latest edition]. The terms in the thesaurus come from drafts of the IRLA proposals, some existing lists in rare book libraries, various reference works, and comments on drafts of the lists by individuals at several institutions. Drafts of this thesaurus were prepared by Dianne Chilmonczyk, based on earlier work by John Lancaster.
II. Purpose and Scope
Many rare book libraries, concerned with the study of the book, maintain local files recording examples of various physical characteristics of items found in their collections. These files are used to retrieve books by physical features rather than by intellectual content. Although such files are useful for selection of materials for exhibition, for class demonstration, and for comparison, their primary use is to assist researchers in studying the physical characteristics of books as evidence of their production, distribution, or further history.
Reflecting for the most part local rather than standard cataloguing practices, such have usually remained available only within individual libraries. Developed specifically for use in MARC field 755, the following thesaurus provides standard terms for the retrieval of provenance evidence. Such standardization is a necessity for those institutions working in the context of shared, machine-readable cataloguing but may also prove beneficial to those maintaining in-house files.
This thesaurus consists of an alphabetical List of terms, followed by an hierarchical display. Following ANSI standards (American National Standards Institute, National Guidelines for Thesaurus Construction and Use, New York, 1980), the terms are in plural natural language noun form whenever possible, and in direct order. Adjectives and prepositions have been avoided as far as possible. An attempt
has been made to include both genus (e.g., “Bookplates”) and species (e.g., “Armorial bookplates”) terms in a number of cases.
Terms of the form “[adjective] copies” are of a slightly different nature from other terms in this list, in that they denote, not a type of evidence, but a condition of association. They were developed in response to three considerations: 1) that a need was felt for terms indicating connections with certain classes of owners commonly involved with books (e.g., Authors’ copies, Dedicatees’ copies etc.) and 2) that a need was felt for terms indicating the occasion for the provenance or method of acquisition (e.g., Presentation copies), but 3) that to provide a range of more specific terms for each class of owners or each occasion of provenance, combined with each type of physical evidence, would lead to an unwieldy proliferation of terms (e.g., Authors’ armorial presentation bindings, Illustrators’ edge-marks, etc.) not to mention incomplete coverage.
The alphabetical list contains authorized terms and appropriate cross references. Scope notes follow terms thought to be obscure or ambiguous, or which are to be used in a technical sense. Each term is followed by the references, if any, made to and from other terms in the thesaurus. Symbols used in these references are those which ANSI prescribes:
USE leads from unused synonyms and inverted forms of the term to the term used;
UF (used for) is the reciprocal of the USE reference and accompanies the term to which the USE reference refers;
BT (broader term) refers from a term for a member of a class to the term for the class;
NT (narrower term) refers from a term for a class to the term for one of its members;
RT (related term) is used between related terms when it seems helpful to bring associated types of evidence to the attention.
In the present thesaurus, members of a class related to each other as narrower terms (NTs) under a common class (BT) are not referenced to each other as related terms (RT). However, whenever a term for which there are narrower terms in the thesaurus appears under another term as either a narrower term (NT) or a related term (RT), it is followed by the symbol “>” to indicate that it is not the narrowest concept of its class. Users should consult the entry in the alphabetical list for terms so marked to identify narrower terms.
The separate hierarchical list (see pp. 18-19) of provenance terms is furnished to provide a convenient overview. The hierarchical display shows no cross references. The hierarchy contains several explanatory or gathering terms (displayed within brackets). These terms are not authorized for use field 655 and do not appear in the alphabetical list.
In a MARC record, these terms are to be entered in subfield $a of field 655. Terms which do not appear in this or other thesauri approved for field 655 may not be used in this field. When used in a MARC record, a parenthetical qualifier must be added in $a following the term. The qualifier will aid users who may not see or know how to interpret coding for $2 (see below), and it also helps clarify terms which are ambiguous when taken out of context (e.g., “Devices”). Terms from the present list receive the qualifier “(Provenance)”.
Any term in this thesaurus may be subdivided by place ($z), period ($y), or other subdivision , ($x) or by any combination of these subdivisions. Each library must determine its own scheme for chronological subdivision. Indirect subdivision, as outlined in LC’s Cataloging Service Bulletin 120 (1977), pp. 9-11, is to be used when subdividing by place. Libraries using other subdivisions should construct these subdivisions to conform as much as possible to LC practice as defined in publications such as Library of Congress Subject Headings: A Guide to Subdivision Practice (Washington, 1981) or Cataloging Service Bulletin.
Each 655 field must close with a $2 (“source of access term”). The Library of Congress has assigned the code “rbprov” to this thesaurus. Therefore, 655 fields using terms from this list must close with $2 “rbprov”.
An example of the application of a subdivided term:
655 $a Bookplates (Provenance) $z Germany $y 18th century. $2 rbprov
N.B. : Subfields $a (with qualifier) and $2 are mandatory; other subfields are optional.
Field 655 is repeatable; assign as many terms as appropriate and desired to retrieve types of evidence in an item. For example, a book having an author’s presentation inscription, a book plate, and a monogrammed binding might have three 655 entries, one for each term.
Use of field 655 is voluntary. Some libraries may want to use the field only for several of the terms; other libraries may prefer to use none. In the case of those terms linked by a genus-species relationship, some libraries may wish to use only the broader term; other libraries may prefer to assign only the narrower terms when appropriate, reserving the broader terms for items not covered by any narrower terms in the thesaurus.
The thesaurus of provenance terms is designed to create special files in a library of any size, whether it has only a few unusual items that might be identified for teaching or exhibition purposes, or a large collection in which particular characteristics are kept track of systematically. A small file is more likely to consist of general terms, while a large one will probably contain many more specific terms, but these decisions must be based on the needs.
Provenance terms and evidence are usually copy-specific. Libraries doing original cataloguing should describe as desired the characteristics of their own copies; other libraries making later use of such cataloguing will probably need to delete the 655 provenance entries.
These terms are to be used in field 655 regardless of the appearance of the same information elsewhere in the record (such as in a subject heading or in a note), their primary purpose being to provide easy retrieval of examples of provenance evidence through a single source.
The following works may prove helpful to persons needing fuller descriptions of some of the types of evidence represented by terms in the thesaurus:
ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science. Chicago: ALA, 1983
Carter, John. ABC for Book-Collectors. London ; New York : Granada, 1980 (or latest edition).
Glaister, G.A. Glossary of the Book. 2nd. ed. Berkeley : University of California Press, 1979.
Harrod, L.M. Librarians’ Glossarv. Aldershot, Hants ; Brookfield, Vt., U.S.A. : Gower, 1984.
Stoddard, Roqer E. Marks in Books, Illustrated and Explained Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Library, Harvard University, 1985.
The RBMS Standards Committee is responsible for the maintenance and revision of these thesauri. It solicits suggestions for new terms, corrections, and alterations to terms, scope notes and references. Any new term proposed should be accompanied by a scope note and references if appropriate. Any correspondence regarding this thesaurus should be addressed to:
Chair, Standards Committee
Rare Books and Manuscripts Section
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, I1 60611
Attention: Provenance Evidence
RBMS Standards Members, 1986-1987
Dianne M. Chilmonczyk
Alan N. Degutis
Jackie M. Dooley
Sara Shatford Layne
Elisabeth Betz Parker
John B. Thomas III
Provenance Evidence: A Thesaurus for Use in Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloguing
Prepared by the Bibliographic Standards Committee of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (ACRL/ALA)
Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 1988
Published by the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611.
The Library of Congress has assigned the following code to this thesaurus:
Provenance terms: rbprov
This code must be entered in $2 of bibliographic record field 655 when from this thesaurus are used in that field. The code in $2 will correspond with the parenthetical qualifier used in $a (see Introduction). [When this text was published, these terms were to be used in subfield $2 of MARC field 755. This has been corrected throughout the text to avoid confusion.]
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences--Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI z39.48-1984.
Copyright c1988 by the American Library Association. All rights reserved except those which may be granted by sections 107 and 108 of the Copyright Revision Act of 1976.
Printed in the United States of America.