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61st IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 20-25, 1995

Section on Rare Books and Manuscripts

Annual Report 1994

Clemens de Wolf
Koninklijke Bibliotheek
POB 90407
2509 LK The Hague
Fax: (31-70) 3140655
e-mail: clemens.dewolf@konbib.nl
is Chair of the Section on Rare Books and Manuscripts.

David R.S. Pearson

National Art Library
Victoria & Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL
Fax: (44-171) 9388461
is Secretary.

Standing Committee and Section Membership

The Standing Committee of the Section has 14 members from 10 countries, two corresponding members and two special advisors. There are 86 IFLA members registered for the Section.



The Annual Bibliography of the History of the Printed Book and Libraries is currently being published under the auspices of the Section. It consists of a collaboration between more than 50 spe cialists in the field of book history in 32 countries. The Editorial Committee in the Royal Library/National Library of the Netherlands, under the chairmanship of Clemens de Wolf, succeeded in keepin g the publication on schedule. L

Literary and Artistic Archives

This is a joint project with ICA (International Council on Archives) and the Section of Art Libraries. The goal of the project is to produce an international directory of major repositories of liter ary and artistic archives. In the report period no contact has been made by the project leader from ICA.

Auction and Booksellers' Catalogues

The project aims to develop an international directory of book sale catalogues, both for auction houses and antiquarian booksellers. In addition to some preliminary inventories compiled during the la st years, the project will start with a questionnaire to be sent out to major libraries holding catalogue collections. A comparable questionnaire of the American Bibliographical Society could serve a s a model.

Cataloguing Manuscripts in Automated Form

The problems associated with establishing accepted international standards for the description of manuscripts are under consideration. There is a generally felt need for some ISBD-MS or UNIMARC for M SS but the best way to encourage this is not yet clear.

Directory of Museums of the Book

The Section discontinued the project in 1993 and a final report was submitted by Mr Vrchotka (Germany) who had undertaken the project. The material is outdated, but gives a survey of the situation in the '80s. The material will be held by the Secretary for possible future involvement of the Section in a Directory of Special Collections.



Until 1994 the Section published its facts and news on a regular basis in the periodical, Nouvelles du livre ancien. Beginning in 1995, the Section will publish its own newsletter.

Information Sheet

For the IFLA Conference in Havana, David Pearson compiled an information sheet on the work of the Section. This was widely distributed and is available upon request.

Future Conferences

Istanbul 1995

The Section plans an open session on the theme, "The History of the Book: The Further Horizon" dealing with some of the book history projects currently underway in Europe, and a workshop with the lat est applications of computer digitizing technology to rare books. The Section will also participate in the open session organized by the Division of Collections and Services.

Beijing 1996

The Section will hold an open session on the theme "Collecting Rare Books and Manuscripts".

Havana Meetings

The Section's open session focused on Latin American collections with the theme, "Preservation and Access for Rare Books in Latin American Collections". Three speakers handled this theme from three d ifferent angles: a general overview of collections, preservation and scholarly research in Cuba, a history and survey of collections in Latin American libraries, and a bibliographical approach using modern technology in the project, Novum Registrum. The meeting was very well attended by 80 persons, and ended with an active and lively discussion.

Colecciones de libros raros y manuscritos en Cuba

An overview is given of the rare book and manuscript holdings of major Cuban libraries. To date no Union Catalogue of such material exists and an account is given of the steps undertaken to organize and standardize the work within such collections. In 1989 the Biblioteca Nacional "José Martí" (BNJM) was promoted as national methodological centre with the function of training staff of other institutions, while the provincial libraries were given the task of creating a current and retrospective regional bibliography. From 1979, several standards were adopted: the Cuban Descri ptió bibliográfica de libros y folletos, based on the ISBD(M), for material of the 19th-20th centuries; AACRs for material of the 19th-18th centuries. Other standards were also impl emented, among which the Descriptive Cataloguing of Rare Books, 1991, and the Reglas de catalogación of the Spanish Ministry of Culture. The standard used for the description of manuscripts in the Cuban Descriptión bibliográfica de manuscritos, based on AACR2. The BNJM is also involved in the project for the Catalogo colectivo of the Asociaci&oacu te;n de Bibliotecas Nacionales Iberoamericanas, for material of the 15th-19th centuries. From a conservation point of view, efforts are being made to extend the still limited use of climatization, im prove the fire precautions, and promote a reprographic campaign.

Rare Books in Latin American Libraries

Western books, learned and popular, arrived with the conquistadors within 50 years of the European development of printing. Mesoamerica already had its own indigenous books, although most of these we re destroyed as part of the ideological aspect of the conquest. Printing came to the New World within 50 years of its discovery. The survival of these early books owes much to the religious orders, a nd the 18th century expulsion of the Jesuits and their fine libraries was a calamity. It was, however, but one aspect of the changes in society during the age of enlightenment which culminated in Lat in American independence. Unfortunately, the independence struggle was followed by internal factional conflicts, with Brazil and Chile the only countries achieving conditions stable enough for librar y development to proceed. Elsewhere, stability returned in the second half of the 19th century, often accompanied by the nationalization of the libraries of religious foundations. Special departments of rare books in national and other major libraries did not arrive until the present century. Lack of institutional continuity is a major obstacle: large private collections often end up in foreign libraries. That things are changing for the better is illustrated by recent Brazilian instances. Preservation of collections once formed is another matter. Latin American paper quality in the past ha s often been very poor; even now acid-free paper is very seldom used.

Novum Regestrum: el catálogo colectivo del patrimonio bibliográfico Iberomericano

The paper presents the CD-ROM of the union catalogue of ancient collections of the Ibero-American Association of National Libraries, known as Novum Regestrum. As background to the project are cited p rior attempts, noted to illustrate the Ibero-American National Libraries' interest in cooperative work. The first dates back to 1952, the date of the first Congress of Ibero-American and Philippine L ibraries, Archives and Copyright, where the establishment of an Ibero-American bibliographic inventory and the setting up of common services (library loan, exchange of publications, and the creation of a general Ibero-American bibliography) were proposed.