Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Legacy Libraries, Five Years On …

Five years ago today we launched the Legacy Libraries group (formerly and affectionately known as “I See Dead People['s Books]“. The project, now with its own homepage, has grown far beyond what we originally intended when a small group of volunteers started cataloging Thomas Jefferson’s library. Some numbers:

  • 157: Legacy Libraries completed to date, with 60 more currently in progress (the full list)
  • 19: libraries of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence cataloged so far
  • 16: libraries of Mayflower passengers documented
  • 8: libraries of actors added or suggested
  • 1,401: Libraries of Early America on which data has been collected to date
  • 153,232: books added to Legacy Library catalogs so far
  • 8: flash-mob catalog projects, including Frederick Douglass and the H.M.S. Beagle (see below for the next one!)
  • 433: members of the Legacy Libraries group
  • ~160: members who have contributed to at least one Legacy Library
  • 59: Legacy Library catalogs which contain a copy of the works of Shakespeare

    To mark the occasion of the fifth birthday, some announcements:

    - Badges! All LibraryThing members who’ve helped with a Legacy Library should now find on their profile page a new “award,” which we’ve named the Legacy Lagniappe. If you don’t have one and should, email me (jeremy@librarything.com) with your LT username and the Legacy catalog you worked on (some of the early records are a bit hazy). We’re glad to finally be able to recognize those members who’ve helped out, at least in some small way. The project wouldn’t be what it is without your contributions and your help! I’ve also been working on trying to connect a few LT libraries which should probably be brought into the Legacies fold, so if you were involved with one of those, please be in touch.

    - Boswell Completed. One huge project has recently reached completion: the library of James Boswell, underway since early October 2008, now contains 5,047 titles! Congratulations and thanks to LTers moibibliomaniac, larxol, and aynar. Jerry Morris (moibibliomaniac) sent along this note:

    “When, after thirteen long months of cataloging, Boswell cataloging team member larxol declared the cataloging of the library of James Boswell complete in November 2009, he included the following proviso:
    ‘… “complete,” in the sense that all the books we know about at this time have an entry.’

    Little did he know …

    In Feb 2010, James Caudle, the Associate Editor Yale Editions of the Papers of James Boswell, read my announcement in a recent issue of The Johnsonian News Letter that both the Samuel Johnson and James Boswell Libraries could be viewed online at Library Thing. He congratulated us for our efforts and offered his assistance in the form of additional catalogues and lists we and probably most of the rest of the world were unaware of.

    In May 2010, we began the cataloging of the 1893 Auchinleck Sale (books owned by generations of Boswells), to be followed in rabid, if not rapid, succession with the cataloging of the 1916 Sotheby Sale, the 1917 Dowell Sale, the 1810 Catalogue of Greek and Latin Classics (written by Alexander Boswell), the c.1770 Catalogue of Books Belonging to James Boswell (written by James Boswell himself), and finally, Boswell’s Curious Productions, a catalogue of chapbooks belonging to James Boswell.

    Thanks go to the Boswell cataloging team: larxol, aynar, and myself (moibibliomaniac); to James Caudle; to Yale undergraduates Jing fen-Su (c.1770 catalogue) and Jacob Sider Jost (Curious Productions); to Boswell researcher Terry Seymour; to Boswell collector Paul T. Ruxin; to James Boswell himself; and to Library Thing and its Legacy Libraries for making these least four years enlightening and enjoyable.”

    - A Selected Catalogue. In 1793, the librarian at Harvard College, Thaddeus Mason Harris, published a pamphlet titled A Seleced [sic] Catalogue of some of the most esteemed Publications in the English Language. Proper to form a Social Library: with an introduction upon the choice of Books (Printed at Boston, by I. Thomas and E. T. Andrews, Faust’s Statue, No. 45, Newbury Street, 1793). Harris wrote in the introduction of his choices:

    “As it has been my endeavour to form a catalogue for a small and cheap library, intended to suit the tastes and circumstances of common readers, many valuable works, in the higher departments of science, have been intentionally omitted. And imperfect as the list may be found, in other respects, yet I trust it will appear that there are sufficient under each head to give a satisfactory and comprehensive (though in some instances very short) view of that particular department of knowledge.”

    This weekend I added Harris’ catalog to LT: see it at SocialLibrary1793. How does your library stack up to the Harvard Librarian’s recommendations from more than two centuries ago? See my overlap (17 titles), or yours (if you’re logged in).

    - Coming soon: Kipling Flash-mob! We’ve got a great list of books from Rudyard Kipling’s library, and this week we’ll be starting a flash-mob to catalog them into LibraryThing. Watch the blog for an announcement about details tomorrow or Wednesday, and save some time to join in!

    Finally, from me, a big and very heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who’s helped out with these projects over the last five years, and to Tim for taking an interest and letting us run with the idea way back then! We’ve got a lot more work to do, but it’s great fun, so if you’re interested in helping out with a current project, know of another library we ought to add, or want to begin a project of your own, please be in touch (jeremy@librarything.com, jbd1 on LT, or @JBD1 on Twitter). Here’s to many more years of this important, endlessly-fascinating project!

    If you want to discuss the state of the Legacy Libraries at five years, head over to the Talk thread.

    Labels: flash-mob cataloging, legacies, legacy libraries

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