Durning-Lawrence Online: Benefits Of A Retrospective Catalogue Conversion Project
The University of London Library has recently undertaken a project to catalogue one of its special collections online, that of Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence (1837-1914), a\ud protagonist of the Baconian theory in the controversy over the authorship of the\ud works attributed to Shakespeare. The collection is especially rich in editions of\ud Bacon's works and other Baconiana and in seventeenth-century English drama, with\ud other strengths being emblem books and early editions of the works of Daniel Defoe.\ud This article places the retrospective cataloguing project in the context of the\ud international drive for retrospective conversion of antiquarian material and of the Library's mission to support research within the federal University of London and the region and internationally. It describes the method used for cataloguing, then focuses on the benefits of the project both academically for researchers and administratively.\ud In addition to the commonly acknowledged benefits of multiple access points in\ud online catalogue records and speed and precision of searching from anywhere in the\ud world, others include the opportunity as part of the project to conduct a preservation survey with little extra cost of time or handling, establishing the rarity of particular items and classes of items in the collection, and insight into the collector provided especially by provenance notes in the catalogue records, enabling scholars to learn a considerable amount about Durning-Lawrence and his collecting patterns from direct electronic access. The value of projects conducted along similar lines may easily be inferred.Pre-print of article published in Libri, 53(2) (June 2003), 142-8.
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