book dealers’ descriptions and catalog records

Mike Widener (Rare Book Librarian at Yale Law Library) wrote a great post about his practice of adding dealers’ descriptions to catalog records of rare books; Jeremy Dibbell included it in his link roundup; John Overholt tweeted about it; and then the conversation began. I’ve storyfied it and embedded it below (you can also go straight to Storify to see it). I wanted to capture the conversation, but we all also wanted to hear a wider range of responses and have a longer conversation about the value and potential pitfalls of this practice. It’ll end up on the EXLIBRIS-L listserv as well, so I’ll include a link to all that when it happens (thanks, John!) but in the meantime, read and comment:

One comment

  1. Mike Widener

    First, thanks to Jeremy Dibbell, John Overholt, Sarah Werner, and all the others who have joined. I’m glad I helped start such a lively discussion. A few responses. (1) For me, representing a LAW library, getting permission up front was a must, for legal & ethical reasons, and because I value my relationships with the dealers. (2) Concerns about accuracy are legitimate, but I attribute the entire “review” to the dealer. If I had doubts about the accuracy of a description, I wouldn’t use it. I don’t have the time to verify each detail. I have not used some descriptions because I found them uninformative or poorly written. (3) I know in the past there’s been a divide between librarians and dealers, but that’s not my case. I admire the work of book dealers and I value them as colleagues and friends. (4) No, I’m not on Twitter and my institution does not provide for comments on our blogs. I’m happy to respond to questions or provide more examples. — MIKE WIDENER, Yale Law Library