How to Be Indiana Jones in the Catalog

November 29, 2021 in Manuscript Studies, Uncategorized

The Research Group Speaks
Episode 4

Rennes, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS 255, folio 1 recto. L’Estoire del saint Graal, Opening initial, with the Holy Grail. Photographer: Peter Scott. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

How to be Indiana Jones in the Catalog

Treasure and Power
In/Of the Bibliographical Record

Linde M. Brocato

The Series So Far

During a time of pandemic, before in-person events might resume, the RGME aims for some online events.

The Series at which “The Research Group Speaks” online began in July 2021.  This Episode rounds out the set for the calendar year, and points the way toward the themes for the new year.


Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, Anonymous, Still Life of an Illuminated Book, German School, 15th century. Oil on Wood. Opened book with fanned pages. Image via Wikimedia, Public Domain.

Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, German School. Image Public Domain, via Wikimedia.

Episode 1 (July 2021)

Barbara Williams Ellertson and BASIRA, with a Timeline

The series commenced with an Interview with our Associate, Barbara Williams Ellertson (July 2021).

Barbara spoke about the BASIRA Project, its background, and her other interests.

For information about the Project on Books as Symbols in Renaissance Art, its subjects, its scope, and its aims, see


Episode 2 (September 2021)

Platina, De honesta voluptate et valetudine (Venice, 1494). Image via BEI, Public Domain.

Southern Italian Cuisine Before Columbus

Next came a Presentation and Demonstration by the food historian Linda Civitello (September 2021).

Linda spoke about the early history of Italian cuisine, especially Cuoco Napolitano, and its ingredients, sources, and influences — for Southern Italian cuisine and beyond. Inspired by the 15th-century sources in manuscript and early printing, Linda described approaches to the subject and gave a demonstration.


Episode 3 (November 2021)

Tales from the Library Crypt

Worcester Cathedral, Crypt. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Then we offered an informal round-table discussion, to compare notes about searching bibliographic materials in a time of pandemic.

Over the past year and more, under exceptional circumstances, there are doubtless to be encountered challenges and disappointments through closures of libraries, access to library resources, and other factors.

But there can also be successes, through serendipity, resourcefulness, friendship, and solidarity across institutions and among wider readership. Comparing notes might offer tips and guidance. Commiseration can come in handy. And the successes are worth celebrating. There are stories to tell.


Next Up

Episode 4 (December 2021)

How to Be Indiana Jones in the Catalog:
Treasure and Power in/of the Bibliographical Record

Linde Brocato, scholar librarian, proposes to give a guided tour of several specimens and case-studies offering bibliographical and cataloguing challenges. (On her experience and expertise, see Linde Brocato, Linde M. Brocato, Curriculum Vitae, and Google Scholar.)

The plan:

Understanding the dynamics and rules of cataloging gives strong insight into how to search:  When to use the basic search box, i.e. keyword search; and When to use advanced search, i.e. the indexes.
I will discuss the bibliographic record, the kinds of decisions catalogers make about how to encode information, and tools to release and enhance your power to find the bibliographic treasure you seek!

P. S.  If it is, perchance, the Holy Grail that you seek, see, for example, Rennes 255:

Rennes, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS 255, folio 1 recto. L’Estoire del saint Graal, Opening initial.
Photographer: Peter Scott. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Also, for reference:

Grail diary of Henry Jones, Sr., from the film ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ (1989), displayed at the Hollywood Museum, Hollywood, California. Image via Wikimedia Commons.


The single-page Handout for Linde’s Presentation is available for download as a pdf.


(Photographs © 2011 Linde M. Brocato)

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Photo © 2011 Linde M. Brocato. Cordoba, Passage.

Into the Light:

Photo © 2011 Linde M. Brocato. Cordoba, Passage.


This episode opens a set of explorations on the subject of “Structured and Structuring Knowledge”.  It is one of our themes for next year — with an eye, for example, to Catalogues, Metadata, and Databases.

More Episodes are in preparation. See The Research Group Speaks: The Series.

Episodes in the New Year will begin in January 2022.

Lisbon, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga: The mid 15th-century Saint Vincent Panels, attributed to Nuno Gonçalves. Image ( via Creative Commons.


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