Archæology

The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

Not what you’d expect to find

So I’m reading Elaine Svenonius’s The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization, when I come across the following:

It is difficult to operationalize objectives that are open-ended. Take, for example, the choice objective. As stated by Cutter, this objective specifies three ways in which a user should be assisted in choosing a book: by indicating its edition, its character, and its literary or topical nature. As stated in the IFLA document, the objective enjoins assistance in terms of “content, physical format, etc.” The etc. is the rub. It could encompass hundreds of attributes of bibliographic entities and countless bibliographic relationships. Any of these attributes or relationships might conceivably be of some use to some user at some time. (Cutter cites as a warning example someone who might be interested in books bound in human skin.)

Cutter’s book containing that warning, Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalog, was published in 1904. Apparently the original edition of 1876 did not contain it. Something must have happened in the meantime to prompt such a specific example.... Το Νεκρονομικον (The Necronomicon) of ابد الازرد (Abd Al-Azrad) is supposedly bound in human skin, and was first mentioned in extant writings in 1922. Obviously Cutter was speaking from experience, having deflected enquiries from a precocious thirteen year old boy.

Posted by jamie on June 4, 2005 12:27+12:00

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