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European Retrospective Bibliographies at CERL

European Retrospective Bibliographies at CERL

Early in 2022, the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL – established a Working Group on Retrospective Bibliographies. The Working Group’s main focus was to identify electronic resources with bibliographical descriptions for national, regional, format-specific (i.e. incunabula, newspapers) or language-specific print cultures (up to 1830). Over the years, CERL has included several of these resources in the Heritage of the Printed Book (HPB) database, has closely aligned itself with the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), and more recently started to act as the host for bibliographies such as the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC) and Short Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN).

The members of the Working Group (see also dream of a day when these electronic bibliographies together offer a comprehensive overview of European prints before 1830. The Working Group wishes to encourage the inclusion of permanent identifiers from retrospective bibliographies in catalogue records and research projects as a basis for connecting these bibliographies to form a strong and rich data network.

From the start, the Working Group was very much aware of the IFLA Register of national bibliographies, and felt that CERL would be in a position to create a supplement to this valuable list with information about bibliographies that focus on or have a strong component of books printed up to 1830.  A first overview  created by Olga Tkachuk, Ossoliński National Institute, in 2022, primarily gathered information about bibliographies (national, regional, language-specific) in nations in the east of Europe (currently listed are Albania / Belarus / Bosnia and Herzegovina / Bulgaria / Croatia / Cyprus / Czech Republic / Estonia / Greece / Hungary / Latvia / Lithuania / Moldavia / Montenegro / North Macedonia / Poland / Romania / Serbia / Slovakia / Slovenia / Ukraine). The list will gradually be expanded with information from European countries not yet listed.

As a result of the work on this overview, CERL decided to organise a conference on the topic. The title of the conference is Retrospective Bibliographies and European Print Cultures to 1830 – Challenges and perspectives in the digital age, and it will take place on 29 and 30 June 2023 at the Ossolineum Library, in Wrocław, Poland. For the programme and registration details see

The key-note address by Marieke van Delft (now retired, but formerly of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands) will reflect on the word ‘national’ for these bibliographies, a term  used in established librarianship tradition in accordance with IFLA and bibliographic control standards, but in today’s world and in the historical context of early printing a term that throws up questions regarding content and scope of retrospective (national) bibliographies.

Looking at our European retrospective bibliographies, which today are no longer printed books, but databases, files with records and identifiers, we see that their scope is usually a mix of geographic/territorial and language aspects, according to the cultural impact and context of a given era.  Today, creating such a bibliography, maintaining and developing it, remains a cooperative challenge – as CERL’s and IFLA’s interest in this topic underlines – and a long-term financial commitment of national impact. Creating and maintaining the kind of retrospective bibliographies that are the focus of the CERL WG is often conceived of as a national duty and a commitment to cultural heritage – a national commitment to a national research infrastructure of transnational importance and impact. CERL as a consortium of European research libraries has a unifying role in this huge cooperative undertaking.

During the conference, we will take a closer look at inclusion and exclusion criteria for the bibliographies, as well as issues related to making data accessible and re-usable, the economics of funding the work and how we organise workflows and collaboration. And we would also like to talk about these bibliographies in the CERL context. Certain retrospective bibliographies, such as the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands and the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue are hosted by CERL, while some, such as the German Verzeichnisse der deutschen Drucke and the Short Title Catalogue Flanders, are included in the Heritage of the Printed Book (HPB) database (and some are both in the HPB and hosted by CERL as stand-alone databases). Should CERL differentiate between records from retrospective bibliographies and records from library catalogues in how this data is made available to the user community? And how can we help to make the data more visible and more accessible?

We hope that our conference will put us on the path of defining what makes retrospective (national) bibliographies valuable today, how we can present them in a way that offers the greatest benefit to end users, and what their long-term perspectives and development could be. For this we would be very happy to collaborate with IFLA’s Bibliography Section to encompass the print output from the earliest printed book to today.

Marian Lefferts, Consortium of European Research Libraries

Claudia Fabian, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München


June 2023


Italian translation of Common Practices published

The Italian translation of the Common Practices for National Bibliographies in the Digital Age was recently completed and has now been published in the IFLA Repository:
Pratiche condivise per le bibliografie nazionali nell’era digitale

Bibliography Section member completes doctoral thesis

Sandra Gisela Martin recently completed her doctoral thesis “Conceptual model for universal bibliographic control”.



The present research sought to establish a conceptual model for universal bibliographic control (UBC) based on the study of three epistemic axes: the legal deposit, national bibliographies, and bibliographic and authorship identifiers. The methodological approach responded to the analytical method based on a bibliographic design of documentary research with a qualitative strategy.  The study population consisted of the 20 Latin American countries that are members of the Association of Ibero-American States for the Development of National Libraries of Ibero-America (ABINIA), excluding Spain and Portugal. A comparative content analysis and a hermeneutic reading of the legal deposit legislation were carried out, the coverage, format and degree of visibility of Latin American national bibliographies in progress on the Web were investigated, and the degree of insertion of bibliographic and author identifiers in the bibliographic control process in Latin American national libraries and/or national bibliographic agencies was investigated. Some categories of analysis proposed in the texts were selected and others that emerged from the reading of the documents were proposed, from which comparative tables with descriptive characteristics were elaborated.

Then, a proposal for a conceptual model of universal bibliographic control was presented, based on general systems theory (GST) and considered as a global system with a model structure of decentralized, distributed, collaborative, interconnected and linked.   The CBU was reflected upon based on the four principles of relevant knowledge proposed by Morin (1999): context, global, multidimensional and complex; and nine dimensions of analysis were proposed: theoretical/conceptual framework, political, legislative, librarian, collaborative, normative, technological, relational, services.

The results and conclusions show the need, on the one hand, to rethink the conceptualization and scope of documentary heritage from a theoretical dimension and, on the other, to question the visions and missions of national libraries.  It is also pointed out that the legal deposit does not represent the totality of a country’s documentary heritage, but only a part of it, which is subject to the legislation in force and the possibilities of complying with it. In relation to the CBU, it can be concluded by highlighting the need to move from a pragmatic vision oriented to data and the strict application of bibliographic description regulations, to a theoretical and systemic vision that contemplates the complexity of the bibliographic multiverse.

Experience as a member of the IFLA Bibliography Section

Sandra Gisela Martín will present IFLA’s mission, vision, values and governance structure. She will mention the mechanisms to collaborate and join IFLA and will explain some documents referring to the organization’s actions: the Trend Reports 2013-2019, the Global Vision 2018, the Idea Store 2019 and the Strategy 2019-2024.

On the other hand, he will comment on IFLA’s activities and services in general and his experience as a member of the Bibliography Section in particular.  He will detail its functions and the resources developed by the Section: current practices for national bibliographies and the national bibliographic register.

SANDRA GISELA MARTÍN holds a PhD in Library Science and Documentation (UBA), a Master’s degree in Digital Documentation (Pompeu Fabra University, Spain), a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science (UES21) and a Bachelor’s degree in Library Science and Documentation (UNC). She has been Director of the Library System of the Catholic University of Córdoba since 2003. She is a professor of the subjects: Information Sources and Services II and Information Systems of the Bachelor’s Degree in Librarianship at the UNC.  She teaches at the postgraduate level in several doctoral, master’s and specialization programs in the country. She is also an external consultant for the National Commission for University Evaluation and Accreditation (CONEAU) in the area of Libraries.

The Deutsche Nationalbibliografie and its formats : 1931 to 2030


The history of the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie (German National Bibliography) is bound up not only with librarianship but also with technology. Kurt Schneider’s publication (24 pages, 17 illustrations) explores the links between them. It takes the reader on an exciting journey through time from the historic print editions of the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie to the digital editions stored on data carriers, the online formats currently used and the formats that will be used in the future.

This publication is available online, see

Bibliographic control in the digital ecosystem

The volume The bibliographic control in the digital ecosystem publishes the proceedings of the International Conference which was held remotely from 8 to 12 February 2021, promoted by the University of Florence, Italy, by the IFLA Bibliography Section, the National Central Library of Florence, Casalini Libri, and by other institutions. The book aims to explore the new boundaries of universal bibliographic control with the contributions of more then 30 international experts of many parts of the World. Bibliographic control is radically changing because the bibliographic universe is radically changing: resources, agents, technologies, standards and practices. Among the main topics addressed: library cooperation networks; legal deposit; national bibliographies; new tools and standards (IFLA LRM, RDA, BIBFRAME); authority control and new alliances (Wikidata, Wikibase, Identifiers); new ways of indexing resources (artificial intelligence); institutional repositories; new book supply chain; “discoverability” in the IIIF digital ecosystem; role of thesauri and ontologies in the digital ecosystem; bibliographic control and search engines.

The bibliographic control in the digital ecosystem / edited by Giovanni Bergamin and Mauro Guerrini ; with the assistance of Carlotta Alpigiano. — Roma : Associazione italiana biblioteche ; Macerata : Edizioni Università di Macerata ; Firenze : Firenze University Press, 2022 — XXXV, 393 p. — (Biblioteche & bibliotecari ; 7, ISSN 2612-7709 (print), ISSN 2704-5889 (online)). — Published also:, vol. 13, no. 1 (2022), <>. — ISBN 978-88-5518-542-4 (Print). — ISBN 978-88-5518-544-8 (PDF). — ISBN 978-88-5518-545-5 (XML). — DOI: 10.36253/978-88-5518-544-8. — PDF open access:


  1. PDF open access:;
  2. on sale: Amministrazione Firenze University Press <>


2021 Update to the 2011 Consolidated Edition of the ISBD

The IFLA ISBD Review Group is pleased to announce the release of the 2021 Update to the 2011 Consolidated Edition of the ISBD.

The 2021 Update is the first release since the publication of the 2011 Consolidated Edition of the ISBD. It extends the coverage of the ISBD to a larger array of resources and brings more organization and refinements to the description of some types of resources.

The developments made in the 2021 Update of the ISBD:
• extend the content of the ISBD to encompass unpublished resources with focus on the manuscripts
• optimize the ability of ISBD for granular description by integrating stipulations for the application of the ISBD to the description of component parts
• bring more harmonization and clarity to the stipulations of cartographic resources, and enhance the description of astronomical cartographic resources
• introduce new elements in appropriate areas and in the glossary as required
• add examples in several languages to the new stipulations to support implementation by the users of the standard

The 2021 Update to the 2011 Consolidated Edition of the ISBD is the result of two years of intensive work by the Content Update Task Force of the ISBD Review Group. It has been developed as an updating revision of the ISBD that takes into account 10 years of proposals by communities of users and their cataloguing needs since the publication of the 2011 edition. Its development brings together the energies and expertise of senior members of the ISBD Review Group and external experts from specialized institutions and learned societies for special formats (i.e. manuscripts and maps); with the full membership in the Content Update Task Force of liaisons from the IFLA Rare Books and Special Collections Section (RBSCS).

Awaiting final endorsement in February 2022, the 2021 Update was released as a draft in December 2021, in which additions and modifications to the 2011 Consolidated Edition are marked in red prints.
In compliance with IFLA HQ requirements for published documents, red prints were removed in this official edition of the 2021 Update.

Rehab Ouf
IFLA ISBD Review Group, Chair

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