Cataloguing the collection

A remark from the 1934-35 annual report of the Heriot-Watt College stated that the
production of a catalogue was “receiving attention”. In fact, by 1936 the first catalogue had
been compiled by Frank Restall, then Head of the Printing Department of the College.
Actually, the catalogue was no more than a hand-list prepared to assist William Maxwell
with purchasing. The system was that William Maxwell did the actual purchasing, but that
either he or Frank Restall would examine booksellers’ catalogues and either one or other
would suggest purchases. The hand-list would assist them in avoiding duplication.

As the collection grew it was realised that the hand-list was insufficient, so, in 1939 William
Beattie [1] of the National Library of Scotland was engaged on a part-time basis to prepare
a preliminary catalogue. After the War this was revised and updated by R. Butchart who
had recently retired from the post of Librarian of Edinburgh Public Library.

Following William Maxwell’s death the preparation of the catalogue passed to Peter
Kilpatrick, then Chairman of the College Committee of Heriot-Watt College and also
Chairman of the Printing Joint Advisory Committee. Kilpatrick consulted with Blair Maxwell,
the Managing Director of R. & R. Clark and also a Governor of Heriot-Watt College. They
discussed the catalogue with Beatrice Warde, Typographical Adviser to the Monotype
Corporation and writer on typographical matters, under the pseudonym of Paul Beaujon.

Warde pointed out that the catalogue prepared by Butchart lacked full notes on the
typography of the books and that this was essential if full use was to be made of the
catalogue as a teaching aid. It was important, in her view, that attention should be drawn
to the development of type faces, particularly in the earlier centuries. She suggested that
Harry G. Carter, the archivist to the University Press at Oxford, would be most suitable for
this task, and after obtaining permission from Charles Batey, Printer to the University of
Oxford (and himself a former student and an Honorary Fellow of Heriot-Watt College)
Carter was approached and consented to undertake the work. Kilpatrick assumed the role
of general editor, and the project was underway.

Carter had completed his work by the time the collection was transferred to Napier College
in 1964, and in the following year composition of the text of the catalogue was begun.
However, when the first galley proofs were considered at a meeting in May 1966 it was
realised that insufficient attention had been given to books added to the collection purely
because of their illustrations. It was at this point that Frank Restall, by then retired from the
Printing School, agreed to write a history of the development of processes for the
reproduction of illustrations using examples from the collection to demonstrate how these
processes grew. He completed this work in 1970, two years before his death, and it forms
a substantial part (117 pages) of the second volume of the catalogue.

Eventually, a full revision of the catalogue, co-ordinated and managed by Napier College
staff was published in 1976 [2]. The two volume catalogue, printed, appropriately, by R. &
R. Clark, was distributed free of charge to printing schools, as suggested by Beatrice
Warde. The catalogue, according to Edinburgh typographer Neil Macmillan is:
“In itself a magnificent reference book on the history and techniques of printing, this
product of many dedicated people admirably complements a superb library of which
Scotland should be proud .” [3]

Roderick Cave also notes its “lavish” production, “admirable points in its approach to the
wide range of materials”‘, “‘comprehensive index”‘ and the “outstanding virtue of its
typographical notes”. However, he also notes that
“the division of the catalogue into various sections is not faultless, so that one needs to
know it rather well to use it to best advantage.” [4]

The fact that the catalogue was produced as a limited edition means that this advantage is
only available to a few. A supplement listing new additions was published in 1980 [5], but
this lacked typographical notes. From 1980 until 1996 new additions were noted in an
Accession Register with little bibliographical, and no typographical information.

Following the Follett review of academic libraries [6] which reported in December 1993, the
higher education funding bodies invited submissions for funding of specialised research
collections in the humanities. Napier University Library applied for funds for the Edward
Clark Collection and was fortunate to be awarded recurrent funding of GBP 141,000 over a
three year period for cataloguing, conservation and housing [7].

The cataloguing element of the project was begun in April 1996, the aim being to convert
the material in the printed catalogue into machine-readable form and in so doing improve
and extend access. The nature of the collection demanded that we give as much
consideration to each book as a physical artefact, as well as cataloguing and classifying its
content. Napier has, since the automation of its catalogue in the 1980s, rigorously followed
established international standards for cataloguing and classification: Dewey Decimal
Classification, Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, UK MARC (United Kingdom Machine
Readable Cataloguing codes), thesauri produced by the Association of College and
Research Libraries in the United States. Adoption of these standards enable Learning
Information Services to provide high quality accessible records of the material in the
collection. Information can be retrieved through all persons connected with the production
and history of a volume, such as printer, engraver, binder and former owner as well as
author and editor. Features such as binding, paper type and typography are recorded
consistently, and a record of conservation work undertaken is incorporated into the
catalogue record. Detailed accounts of the cataloguing project been reported elsewhere [8]
[9]. Three aspects of the cataloguing work are worth noting here.

Firstly, the cataloguers, Sarah Forbes and Alyson Lochhead noted that several of the
periodical titles in the collection were not covered by existing indexing or abstracting
services, so we have enabled users of the Edinburgh Napier University Library catalogue
to search at article level for such information through the creation of analytical records
attached to the parent record for the periodical [this facility is only currently available via
the Library catalogue.]

Secondly, during the project the cataloguers came across correspondence “‘hidden”
between the pages of text. These letters, written by the author, printer or publisher of the
work, often shed light on the history of the book’s production. These letters have been
placed in acid-free folders and referenced to the books in which they were found.

Thirdly, as an offshoot of the cataloguing work, World Wide Web pages were created for
the collection. These pages can now be accessed directly from the Library’s Web-based
public access catalogue, enabling us to provide links from bibliographic records to digitised
images of material in the collection, and to other information relevant to the text – you are
reading such information now!

[1] Later Professor William Beattie CBE, MA, LLD, and Librarian of the National Library of
Scotland 1953-1970.
[2] Kilpatrick, P. J. W. ed. Catalogue of the Edward Clark Library. With typographical notes
by Harry Carter and an essay on the printing of illustrations by Frank P. Restall. Edinburgh
: Privately printed for Napier College of Commerce & Technology [and] Lothian Regional
Council, 1976. 2v.
[3] Macmillan, Neil. A tale of two libraries. Scottish print and packaging, no.14 (March
1993) pp.21-22.
[4] Cave, Roderick. Rare book librarianship. 2nd ed. London : Bingley, 1982. pp.72-73.
[5] Catalogue of the Edward Clark Library: additions to the library since publication of the
catalogue in 1976. Edinburgh : Privately printed for Napier College of Commerce &
Technology [and] Lothian Regional Council, 1980.
[6] Joint Funding Councils Libraries Review Group. Report. [Sir Brian Follett, chairman].
Bristol : HEFCE, December 1993.
[7] A full list of project is given in: Accessing our humanities collections: a guide to
specialised collections for humanities researchers. London : JISC, 1997.
[8] Forbes, Graeme; Forbes, Sarah; and Lochhead, Alyson. “The Edward Clark Collection
cataloguing project at Napier University Library, Edinburgh: a brief note”. Rare books
newsletter, 54 (Winter 1996). pp.35-39.
[9] Forbes, Sarah. “The Edward Clark Collection: Gutenberg and beyond”. Humanities
collections, vol.1 no.1 (1998). pp.61-65.