Searching the catalogue: What is Law Retro?

By | 7 November 2008

In your catalogue searches you may come across a strange and rather unhelpful shelfmark that just says ‘Law Retro’. It may also say ‘Law Retro Staff’, or ‘Law Retro 4567’ (or some other number). What does this shelfmark mean? Well first, a little background…

Way back in the mists of time, the 80s in fact, the Bodleian Library decided to replace the card catalogue with a new computerised catalogue. However, putting all the information from those typed record cards on the computer wasn’t without a few hiccups. Moreover, when the system was upgraded, there were more hiccups and this is when ‘Law Retro’ starts to make an appearance in the catalogue.

So, what is Law Retro? It is a flag for Bodleian cataloguers to show that, for some reason, the catalogue entry needs some attention. It might need upgrading, correcting or deleting

If you come across one, what should you do? In most cases it means that the record you are looking at is a duplicate of another one in the catalogue. Almost always the other record has a perfectly normal looking shelfmark. To find the correct record, go back to the previous search screen and locate the record from there. If that fails, please ask a member of staff and we will be glad to help.

It is an ongoing project at the Law Library to try to eliminate all these entries but the task is a large one. We will get there in the end — only another few thousand or so go!

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