Cataloguing a braille book

Warning: most of this post is probably only of interest to cataloguers, if it is of interest to anyone…

I catalogued a braille book for the first time yesterday. As far as I know, it’s the only braille item we have in the library. As I had no idea how to catalogue a braille item I did what all good librarians do and looked it up. I found a blog post about it, which led me to the webpages of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress.*

I found the link to their union catalogue, so I had a look at a couple of records. It turns you just need to add [braille] in the ‘h’ subfield in the 245, and in the ‘a’ subfield of the 300 field you put 1 v. of braille (or however many volumes there are) instead of the usual number of pages. Well, at least I hope that’s right. Some records have a more specific description in the 300 ‘a’ subfield, specifiying what type of braille the item is in (e.g. “press braille”), and some records also had a note in the 500 field about the specific type of braille used (e.g. “contracted braille”). I’m afraid I couldn’t be specific in my record as I don’t know how to tell the difference between the types of braille or the ways of producing it.

One of the things I really like about cataloguing is that it gives you opportunities to learn about things you’d probably otherwise never know about. Before yesterday, I didn’t know there were different types of braille or different ways of producing it, or  that braille originated as a military code,** but now I do. Such are the joys of cataloguing. 🙂


*The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)  provides a similar service to the NLS, and also has a library catalogue, but they don’t display a MARC view of their catalogue records – or at least not that I could find.

**I expect I did learn this at school, but if so I’d forgotten it.


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