Implications of the Core Bibliography

The core bibliography developed in this project is comprised of 284 books that reveal some interesting facts about the problems of access for the jewelry historian. The bibliography contains many books published within the last 30 years–all potential preservation problems because of the acid paper. These books represent the growing interest in the field, with more and more books being published on subject specific topics each year.[9] The growth of the published materials and the reprinting of some of the older, definitive texts are also indications of popular interest.[10]

The international flavor of the bibliography emphasizes worldwide interest in this field. Over 200 of the entries were published in countries other than the United States. One hundred and two books were published in the United States, some in conjunction with foreign (usually British) publishers. The U.S. publishers most frequently named could be targets for brittle book education and conversion to acid-free paper publications. Many of these publishers pride themselves on their quality books that are very visual in nature as well as very expensive. The publishers with more than two items on the bibliography are: Henry Abrams, Books Americana, Crown, Collector Books, Doubleday, E. P. Dutton, Dover, Rizzoli, Schiffer, Putnam, Scribners, Van Nostrand, Reinhold and Viking and their subsidiaries.

The lack of availability of many of the items in research and public libraries cited by the scholarly respondents is proven true by the holdings records of many of the items. any of the more recently published items are just as scarce as the older items. This inspired one librarian to suggest that publishers can no longer afford to print more items than they anticipate selling. Therefore, topical books, which are often expensive to produce and acquire, are printed in limited runs and are often out-of-print before many libraries have been able to identity and acquire them.[11]

Reprints are also listed in the bibliography. Sometimes the reprint itself was the title cited by one of the respondents. Reprints, still on acid paper, can be considered as a delaying tactic, one that perpetuates the brittle book problem. Reprints done in the 1890s or early 1900s can be in the same brittle state as the originals. The number of reprints published is noted in the chart, Summary of Bibliography by Publication Date and and Number of Reprints. The dates of reprinting given in parentheses may reflect interest and market demand. Some items have been reprinted more than once–they can be identified as having more than one date within the parentheses. The dates are given so that a false sense of security about the state of the brittle book problem for jewelry historians is not overlooked. The most recent reprints buy time for users, but do nothing to prevent the disintegration of the originals. Further, the reprints are prone to the same self-destruction if they too are printed on acid paper.

The bibliography makes clear that while 104 of the original items cited were published after 1959, only 28 of the items cited have been microfilmed. The bibliography highlights potential and highly probable access and preservation problems, and gives evidence of the problems noted by the respondents. Some of the more recent works are harder to find than the older items. In fact, the number of available titles for some of the older books is higher than for those published in the last 20 years. The older books, victims of acid paper, may be in varying stages of disintegration due to the environment within an individual library and their age. Some may be in excellent to reasonably good condition. The small number of available titles of the more recently published items, as well as the books that have been reprinted, may indicate that library acquisitions in the jewelry field are diminishing, as illustrated in the previously cited report from ALCTS. The books with adequate numbers of titles, on the other hand, may well be part of rare book collections that do not circulate.

Access and Preservation Concerns for Core Bibliography Titles

In searching the citations, and noting the number of titles for each citation, it was discovered that very few libraries hold a collection of jewelry history books. Six libraries, described at the end of this report, appeared most frequently as holders of the rarer books.[12] A few others have considerable, but not comprehensive, collections: Brown University, New York Public Library, Denver Public Library, Rice University, University of Texas at Austin, Kent State University, Ohio State University, The University of Michigan, The Triangle Research Libraries, and Newark Public Library.[13] In cases where a book rests with other books of similar specificity, it is easier to assign a preservation status because it is an integral part of a group that comprises one of the “small collections” that gives personality, depth, and identity to a library. For example, the University of Arizona can base its strong collection on the gifts of T.E. Handley and the commitment of Paul Barton, a dedicated bibliographer, who endeavored to enhance and strengthen Handley’s bequest. Until Barton’s death, the library continued to develop this multifaceted fine arts collection.

However, libraries holding only a few books appeared most frequently. The items listed in this bibliography therefore are most likely held by a library that does not have a commitment to collect the topic specific material. These libraries may hold these books as part of a larger whole, adjuncts to other more massive collections of related materials, or simply as individual items. This is an area of major concern for jewelry historians when decisions to preserve are considered. Preservation criteria must fit within the mission of each individual library, and are often based on maintaining collection strength. Selection of items for preservation, then, is an extension of the acquisition and collection development policies of an individual library. As far as can be reasonably deduced, the number of available titles of each book in the core bibliography, with the exception of about 12 percent, is very low, an average of just under 45 per book. This low number argues for cooperation among libraries when making choices for preserving these titles.

Only 28 books on the bibliography have been microfilmed. While the choice of the microfilm format is a decision sometimes made difficult by the visual aspects of the contents of the book, microfilm is a safe and long-term preservation medium, takes little room to store, and is easily reproduced for wider access. As the only tested long-term preservation medium, microfilm can hold a book’s contents safely until they can be converted by digital technology back into books or into computer-accessible files. Most of the microfilming activity has been part of two broad-based efforts: the Library of Congress preservation program and the Research Libraries Group, Inc. (RLG) cooperative effort. It can be concluded that only the U.S. Geological Survey Library has microfilmed part of a jewelry specific collection. Cornell library holds the master microfilm for Ryley’s Old Paste, a jewelry history classic, as part of its comprehensive glass collection. Many of the microfilmed titles lend themselves easily to other disciplines. Bishop’s History of Manufactures… is a 19th-century business classic, Pearls and Pearling… a natural history classic, Inventories de Jean Duc… a primary source for medievalists. There is little doubt that jewelry history materials will continue to be microfilmed as parts of other collections since jewelry, seen as a symbol and reflection of culture, fits into many subject heading categories.