Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More on the provenance of the limited edition Wordsworth

Here's an email I've received from a knowledgeable information sciences professional whom I trust on all matters of librarianship. She clears up some of my puzzlement over the catalog number found in the limited edition Wordsworth Sonnets featured in my last post.


Here's a little clarification on the Ref./812/W92/So mystery --

First of all it looks like it was written in the old careful library script. All 4 lines are textbook library cataloging and classification and it seems that the cataloger even made a mistake.

That is a Dewey Decimal classification number, with the book being shelved in the Reference section. The Dewey number 812 actually refers to American drama and Wordsworth should probably be in the 811 section, so I think there was an error made by the cataloger. W92 is the Cutter number for Wordsworth. And finally, SO refers to the first 2 letters of the title of the book.

The number 21101 is the accession number for that particular library. It was the 21,101st book added to the collection. Many libraries don't do that anymore, but it was common for a library to always add the accession number to the same page number in every book they acquired (always on page 13 for instance).

As to why there are no distinguishing marks as to which library owned this book--it may be Holmes' copy and he may have been a closet librarian or another thought is that all of the ownership marks were on the missing slipcase. Philips Academy in Andover MA is the home of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, where he once went to school. I don't know if they have a collection of his but it may be a place to start looking, as well as Harvard Law's digital library.

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