The intent of this project, conducted as an internship toward a masters degree from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Catholic University of America, was to create a core bibliography in support of preservation of scholarly jewelry research, and to encourage the interest and involvement of jewelry historians, appraisers, professionals, collectors and connoisseurs in preservation initiatives. The bibliography begins to identify a core of jewelry history books that are frequently cited and may be prime targets for preservation.
The discovery process began with the development of a bibliography of items used in the study of jewelry. Fifteen respected jewelry historians, jewelry scholars and appraisers were contacted and each asked to supply a list of works that in their personal judgment were the 25 most important books that supported their individual field of research.
The request for 25 items was met with a range of creative responses that attempted to circumvent the literal number count. Common answers included “All the books by…” or “Every Godey’s catalog and …” All citations, with the exception of serials, journals, articles, and some catalogs, were accepted, as it was clear a criteria for format would need to be set or the list would become interdisciplinary and unruly. Over 300 citations were searched in OCLC, resulting in the examination of over 2,000 MARC bibliographic and holding records. The bibliography is a product of the respondents’ selections and additions from 11 selected bibliographies.
The respondents were also asked to reply to four questions. The purpose of these questions was to discover common preservation problems within the field. In many cases, the results of this general survey demonstrate that all the respondents encountered brittle books. Yet the enormity of the brittle book problem was a surprise to the majority. The respondents were unanimous in citing access problems, which included “availability for use” and “condition,” as their most serious concerns. As in other disciplines, jewelry historians still favor the book and printed material over other formats.