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Cathedral Libraries Catalogue

The Cathedral Libraries Catalogue is an electronic version of the following publication: M.S.G. McLeod, ed., and completed K.I. James and D. J. Shaw. The Cathedral Libraries Catalogue: Books printed before 1701 in the Libraries of the Anglican cathedrals of England and Wales: Volume II (Books printed on the Continent of Europe before 1701 in the libraries of the Anglican Cathedrals of England and Wales). London: Bibliographical Society and the British Library, 1984

Access the Cathedral Libraries Catalogue dataset within the HPB (login required)

Historical note

The Cathedral Libraries Catalogue was a project launched by the Bibliographical Society in 1943-1944. The original cataloguing work was carried out by Mrs Margaret Mcleod (née Hands) between 1944 and 1956. A second phase of cataloguing took place between 1976 and 1983 undertaken by a number of individuals working at Salisbury, Canterbury, Durham and York. In 1982 the editorial phase began at the University of Kent at Canterbury under the direction of Dr David J. Shaw, financed mainly by the British Library. 1984 saw the publication of Volume I, a finding list of 26,000 English books of the STC and Wing period. From 1985 to 1997 the editing of the records for continental books took place and their conversion to a computer-based MARC catalogue from which the entries for the printed catalogue (1998) were derived.

The Catalogue contains records from 37 cathedrals of the Church of England and the Anglican Church in Wales. It does not include Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford (which is included as a college library in the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Catalogue), nor Lambeth Palace Library; St George's Chapel, Windsor (of which a printed catalogue was published in 1976), Westminster Abbey; and some modern foundations without a library of the traditional type. The records are derived from several different sources: the original catalogue slips prepared by Miss Hands, later additions to this file at Salisbury, a further stage of work at York, and records from independent cataloguing projects at Durham and Canterbury. Merging the records from these different sources has been an enormous task.

It cannot be guaranteed that all of the books recorded here are still in their original location; in particular, Ely Cathedral Library was sold in 1972, CLC retains the entries for the books which Miss Hands described in 1945. Other collections may have deposited their books for safe-keeping and other smaller dispersals may have taken place. The Catalogue is a record of the historical holdings of the Anglican Cathedrals in the mid- to late-twentieth century.

Name and coverage of file

CLC is the abbreviation used for the Cathedral Libraries Catalogue. The records on the HPB database represent the entries to be found in Volume II of the Catalogue: Books printed on the Continent of Europe before 1701 in the libraries of the Anglican Cathedrals of England and Wales, by David J. Shaw (Editor-in-Chief), Margaret S.G. McLeod (née Hands), Karen I. James, Lawrence Le R. Dethan and others, which was published by the British Library and the Bibliographical Society in two parts in 1998 (ISBN 0 7123 0654 4). Volume I, Books printed in the British Isles and British America and English books printed elsewhere, was published in 1984 (ISBN 0 7123 0038 4); records for these books have been loaded on to ESTC and do not form part of the HPB database. There are 25,722 records for continental imprints before 1701, representing 38,845 copies in the cathedral libraries.

The on-line file mirrors the original closely, although a few modifications have been made, notably in the transcription of some special characters.

The scope is indicated by the title: all books printed outside Great Britain and North America before 1701, almost entirely on the continent of Europe, with a small number of records for books printed in the overseas dependencies of the continental states. Books in the English language printed abroad are included (and are also listed in Volume I). The geographical coverage (in terms of modern states) is Germany 30%, France 25%, Netherlands 13.5%, Switzerland 12%, Italy 8% and Belgium 7%. Other countries, which make up less than 1% each, include Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Moldavia, Denmark, Portugal, Finland and the Philippines.

The Catalogue records 523 incunables (2% of the total records), 40% of the entries are 16th-century and 58% are 17th-century. Of the 16th-century entries, 44% are not in Adams. The best-represented period is 1601–1620.

Over 30 languages are represented. The linguistic coverage is predominantly Latin (78.8%). Other languages are French 7.8%, classical and liturgical Greek 4.0%, Italian 3%, English 2.8% (English books printed in Great Britain are fully represented in Volume I), German 1.2%, Dutch 0.8%, Hebrew 0.7%, Spanish 0.5%, Syriac 0.1%. There are one or two books each in Anglo-Saxon, Aramaic, Czech, Danish, Frisian and Low German, Gothic, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish and Welsh. Books printed in oriental scripts have been included wherever a transcribed catalogue record was available. Single-sheet material, printed music, atlases and volumes of engravings are included but may not have been recorded in all collections.

Mode of cataloguing


Author headings tend to follow the practice of the Bodleian and British Museum pre-war rules with some amendments and simplifications. The cataloguers were often faced with the need to choose between a vernacular and a Latin form of name, preferring whichever form is in general use and keeping Latin forms for writers who were Renaissance humanists who consistently used a Latinised name or where it was not possible to establish a secure vernacular form. Anonymous works are entered directly under title with the exception of Bible and Liturgies. Uniform titles are given for the original title of translations, for categories such as Works, or genres such as Letters, or Bible commentaries for some authors such as Calvin.

Bibliographic description

Miss Hands's entries were generally not as full as might be given today. The Canterbury, Durham and York entries typically gave much fuller title transcriptions. It was necessary to reduce these longer transcriptions since it was not possible to expand the shorter ones. However, the fuller entries for the more recently catalogued collections have helped with matching records within the catalogue. It was the intention that the catalogue entries should offer a reliable title (and imprint) transcription in terms of orthography and punctuation. Again, the multiple sources of the entries have meant an inevitable divergence of criteria, some of which may still be reflected in the forms given. Some of these problem areas are: treatment of consonantal and vocalic u/v and i/j; treatment of consonantal (and vocalic) capital V in titles in uppercase; treatment of Greek (Miss Hands typically omitted Greek parallel titles but retained individual Greek words in Latin titles); treatment of abbreviations and contractions (retained by Miss Hands, and by Salisbury and York, but only partly by Canterbury and Durham).

Where the original is ENTIRELY IN CAPITALS, the transcription attempts to produce a normalised form in upper and lower case according to the conventions of the book in question. The printed catalogue was able to represent many of the contractions and abbreviations of early printed books. Where these cannot be represented in the MARC character set, an appropriate expansion has been attempted in square brackets, e.g. ‘[con]traction’; where this has been impossible to do without editorial intervention, e.g. for the many ‘q’-contractions, a form such as ‘[q]’ has been used. Some character combinations which are allowed in MARC (especially characters with a macron) were coded but cannot at present be represented on output, giving apparently oddly spelled words.

Present/Absent fields

The transcribed fields include the title, statement(s) of responsibility, edition and imprint. Authors’ names are generally omitted from the title transcription.

Normalised places of publication, names of printers, etc., are recorded in separately indexed fields. Names of editors, translators, printers and publishers can be searched separately, as “other authors”. Roman dates are represented as dates in Arabic numerals, with the original form being retained where it is ambiguous.

Headings for both personal and corporate authors follow the Bodleian Library and the British Library’s mid-20th-century practice, with some simplification: they will in many cases differ from the form prescribed by the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. Note that dates of birth and death are not added to personal names, authors of the same name being distinguished by epithets.

The records include searchable codes for language and country of publication.

Pagination and signature collations were not available for all records in the catalogue. Where they were available, they have been recorded.

Treatment of multi-volume works

These are treated in single records, with appropriate notes. The number of parts, and the pagination of each, is given in the physical description when available.

Recommendations for searching

Personal names follow older British rules: do not expect them to conform to current Anglo-American standards. They have no dates, but similar names are frequently qualified by titles and epithets, (e.g. “the Younger”, “Chemist, of Stettin”). There is no on-line authority file for CLC.

Author, title, edition and imprint are all coded as separate fields and so can be searched separately.

Place names may appear under anglicised, Latin and vernacular forms (e.g. Rheims, Remis, Reims) in different contexts: search for all. Titles are more easily searched by individual title words; title phrase searching is difficult unless the exact form is known.

Imprint place (IPL) in normalised form can be searched directly and also used to restrict searches. The imprint year can always be searched as a normalised publication year with Arabic numerals (PYR).

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 resources/hpb/content/cathedral_libraries_catalogue.txt · Last modified: 2023/09/26 17:19 by liventsova



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