The base of the parochial book collections of the Catholic church in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Stanislaus era
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The inventories of book collections contained in the visit reports were prepared by the parsons themselves and without schemes imposed from above, and therefore there was total freedom regarding the methods of preparing the bibliographic description. Some priests provided exhaustive information about the name of the author and the entire title of the book, while others limited themselves to the writer or the title. There were also descriptions in which a short title was given or a common name under which a given work was known. The consequence of this chaos was such that accomplishing the correct identification of the titles of books recorded in the sources was a time-consuming task.

I started working on identification by entering in the database all the book titles identified by my predecessors and linking them to the name of the source they used. Then the procedure ran as follows.

  • I selected the first unidentified specimen from the database.
  • With the help of filtering tools, I searched for all specimens with a similar name.
  • In the register of already identified titles, I searched for the specimens with a source description wording similar to the title which was currently undergoing identification.
  • If I found such, I rejected those which for one reason did not fit one hundred percent, and at the same time, I assigned the same title to the others.
  • If in the identified titles there were not books with a similar source wording description, I conducted independent identification work using previously published studies on parochial book collections1, bibliographies2, encyclopaedias3, dictionaries4 and online library directories5.
  • Finally, I assigned a label to each identified specimen specifying quality of identification6.
    • Assured identification - if both the author and the title of the book or only the title were certain if the book was anonymous or did not have a clearly defined author (like the bible or a missal).
    • Probable title - if only the title of a specimen was given in a source, which only partially matched the title of a work, but the work appeared in other book collections in a similar form with additional information allowing for a fairly certain identification.
    • Identification of the author and genre - if the author and the genre of the book were certain, but the title of the work was either unmentioned or, on the basis of the scant information given, it was uncertain which of his works was intended.
    • Author identification - if only the author themselves was certain.
    • Exclusive genre identification - if only the genre of the copy was given (this group included mainly liturgical books, but also sermons and theological books in the self-study collection).
    • No identification - if the author was not given in the source, and the title could not be assigned to any work or could be assigned to too many works at once, or if only the existence of the book was mentioned without any additional information.