Der neue Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC) ist nun online

Dear Colleagues

I’m pleased to be able to inform you that the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC) has now been successfully migrated to CERL, and it can be accessed at There will be an automatic redirect from the old URL to the new one on the British Library’s website from 15 December. All updates which were sent to us while the file was frozen over the last few months will now be added to the database as soon as possible.

Some of the new features of the ISTC are:

  • There are now live updates so that the changes we make to the file can be seen immediately.
  • There is an English and a German version of the database now.
  • The overall display of the entries has become much clearer, and the holding institutions are now listed in separate lines rather than in blocks.
  • The ‘Other’ and ‘Other Europe’ fields have been broken up, and all countries previously gathered under these headings are now listed separately. With the exception of the British Library, all holding institutions are now listed in alphabetical order within their countries which are themselves arranged in the alphabetical order of their English names. Researchers are thus now able to get a more accurate picture of the distribution of copies of incunabula around the world.
  • Research into the distribution of copies around the world is also supported by the newly introduced counting of holding institutions which is a first step towards copy counting. The latter will be introduced in a future phase of development.
  • The bibliographical parts of the entries have not changed, and the links to the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke (GW) and to BSB-Ink have been retained. We have also added links to Bod-Inc and plan to add links to further online catalogues in the future.
  • There is now only one search box and there are no drop-downs any more. Users will therefore have to construct their searches by combining the fields in the database using Boolean operators to get the most accurate results. The fields can be searched and browsed, and they include author, date, format, id, heading, language, location, place, printer, reference, shelfmark, and title. For example, a combined search could look like this: author:schedel AND title:liber AND date:1493. It is of course also possible to simply enter search terms into the search box, but the results will be less accurate.
  • Users can create a log-in for themselves which allows them to save searches and bookmark records and save them in their folder.
  • Users can download data from the ISTC in various formats: YAML (plain text), Excel (csv), Excel (csv for editing), ISBD (Text), Marc 21 (Text), Marc21 (ISO 2709), and BibTeX. While it is of course possible to download entire records, users can also specify which fields they wish to download.
  • The records in a results list are numbered, and users can choose to look at each record in a brief display which provide all information contained in a record in a condensed format or at a full display which shows a record structured very clearly. Brief displays can be opened and closed by following the relevant link at the bottom of an entry in the results list. Full displays can be reached by clicking on the ‘full display’ link at the bottom of a record in the results list or by clicking on the heading of a listed record.
  • Users can also select which fields are displayed in their results list. This option can be found at the top under ‘More’ and is called ‘Customise Results Display’.

We are of course keen to have your feedback on the new file, so please send your comments to us at

Thank you very much to Alex Jahnke and his team at the DCG in Goettingen for their close collaboration with the British Library to make this such a smooth transition.

Best wishes,
Karen Limper-Herz

Quelle: Incunabula-Mailingliste

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