The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Invitation to preview our new catalog

Psssst…. we’re working on a new online catalog for the Folger collection. Do you want to help out by having an early look? If so, please keep reading! The link is deliberately buried deep in this blog post because there’s some context we want you to have, and some important warnings about the parts that we’re still working on.

Why did it take so long?

Hamnet runs on software developed in the mid-1990s and last updated in 2008. Other libraries have long since gone to a sleek design with a single search box, but the Folger held back. Why? Quite simply, we weren’t willing to lose the pin-point searching that classic online catalogs provided. Newer library systems generally bring you anything their algorithms think might possibly be related to your search terms. That’s mostly okay for most people in most libraries most of the time. It’s mostly not okay for most people searching Special Collections. If you’re interested in the variant setting of the 1694 edition of The comical history of Don Quixote (that one that has “cop” instead of “cod” on A4) you want to know right away if the library does or does not have it. If you’re interested in letter-writing paper in England during the 1642–1646 phase of the Civil Wars, you don’t want digital images, printed books, or later copies. The Folger needed a catalog that could offer all the new bells and whistles, and still offer precision in search results.

What changed?

Marshall Breeding observed in his 2017 “Library Systems Report” (published annually by the American Library Association) “Voyager [the “legacy ILS system” in use at the Folger] has had no new sales since 2012. We can anticipate that the libraries remaining on Aleph and Voyager have migration plans under way.”1 At that point, our migration plan was only “underway” in the sense that “we’re looking at the options, and getting more and more worried.” In that same article, though, Breeding introduced a new company:

TIND Technologies was recently formed as a spin-off out of the CERN research organization in Switzerland. Developers at CERN created Invenio as an open source library management system for its library. TIND Technologies provides support services for this software to libraries outside of CERN, branded as the TIND ILS.

We thought little of it then, but took note a year later when the report said “Although a startup with less than a dozen employees, [TIND] is establishing itself both in the US and internationally,” and “This year the UC Berkeley Law Library selected the TIND ILS and will enhance its serials and acquisitions modules.”2 The system still couldn’t do what we needed it to do, but if Berkeley Law was able to work with them to enhance the serials and acquisitions modules, maybe the Folger could work with them on the needs of Special Collections and small independent research libraries?

Long story short (and interrupted by the Collection Move and COVID-19) the Folger signed a contract with TIND in January 2022.

User beware! Please read!

The new catalog is not ready for prime-time yet. Here are some of the things still being worked on at the time of writing.

  1. Every item currently has the same icon (looks like a blue notebook cover). Soon it will have icons for the 14 different types of catalog record (e.g., printed book, manuscript, picture).
  2. Name links currently only pull from the “Personal name” portion of the heading (e.g., “Behn, Aphra” not “Behn, Aphra, 1640-1689.” This works fine for for Aphra Behn, but if you want “Henry VIII, King of England, 1491-1547” you’ll not only get the seven Henrys who came before him, you’ll also get “Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, 1050-1106” and “Henry III, King of France, 1551-1589” and any other ruler known in English as “Henry”).
  3. Copy-specific information is currently lumped together in one block of text for each copy (beginning with the call number of that copy).
  4. There’s no obvious way to add date limits yet. You have to use symbols and the “year” search alias (e.g., put year:<=1450 into the search box to limit results to material created in or before the year 1450. See the “Range” instructions at the bottom of the Search Tips page for more).
  5. Help pages aren’t yet Folger-specific, and how-to articles in Folgerpedia are not yet updated.
  6. The “Available” and “On shelf” messages currently mean “Still exists” and “Wrapped in tissue inside sealed box on shelf at secure storage facility” respectively. The Folger remains closed for a major renovation.


  1. To see all the records in the catalog, leave the search box empty.
  2. Click any link in the “Narrow by collection” box on the front page to find only those records.
  3. After hitting the “Search” button, use the facets in the left-hand side bar and the “Options” button at the top right to further refine your results. On a mobile device or narrow screen, use the “Options” button to reveal the facets. (Note: facets do not currently allow for “or” searching, and the “Options” window closes each time a selection is made: both problems are on our list of enhancement requests).
  4. Select “Vault” in the location facet (bottom of the list) to remove open-stacks books, EEBO records, microfilm, etc. If you select the “Vault” location, any records remaining in the “Online” category will be Folger items that are also available online (in full or in part) in our digital image database, LUNA.3
  5. The URL in the address bar is a permanent link to your search result, whether it’s a single record or hundreds of records brought up by a complicated search. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed or an email notification when new items matching your search criteria are added to the catalog.
  6. The “Advanced search” has eleven drop-down fields to choose from, and includes an “Added/modified since” option so you can see only what’s changed since the last time you looked. But be warned! The “Exact phrase” search actually means “This word or phrase only” (which can be useful if you’re looking for the journal History, for example).
  7. All of the hundreds of fields and subfields can be searched by MARC code.4
  8. Dozens of fields also have a “search alias” so that you don’t need to know MARC. For example, type year:1550->1567 into the search box to find materials dating from 1550 to 1567, inclusive. Throw in AND locationname:vault to get rid of photostats, microfilm, and online-only copies.5
  9.  You can log in to create (and share) “baskets” of records, re-use your earlier searches, see your own circulation history for open-stacks material, and more.

Basic orientation

Plain catalog interface

  1. Search box. Leave blank, or enter keywords, or “search on a phrase”, or [search for this word or phrase only], and/or use search aliases, MARC fields, Boolean operators, or ranges. Use * to represent zero or more characters within or at the end of a word. Use % to represent any one character. Follow the “Search Tips” link (no. 4) for details.
  2. “Search” button. Select this button to run your search.
  3. “Narrow by collection” box. Follow any link to see or search within that group of records only. You can add other groups in using the Options button below the search box on the resulting screen.
  4. “Search Tips” link. Goes to the “Tind Search Guide” (which is the same for all Tind catalogs, not a Folger-specific guide).
  5. “Advanced Search” link. Goes to the Advanced search interface.
  6. “Search Authorities” link. Goes to the Authorities search interface, which is useful for finding the right terms for name, subject, and genre/form searches (but see the warning about name links at no. 3 in the “User beware” list earlier in this post).

Ready to have a look?

Here’s the link:

You don’t need an account to search the catalog, but you do need one if you want to save and share baskets of records, view your search history, and so on. Most current Folger readers will already have an account. Just click “login” in the upper right, then click “Forgot password” and enter your email address. If you’re already a Folger reader and the catalog claims your email address does not exist in the database, send email to and we’ll fix it. If you’re not a Folger reader, and you want to register for an account, contact and we’ll create a catalog account for you.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

Please feel free to leave a reply in the Comments section here, or send email to

Thank you for your time and consideration as we prepare to make this big transition! Hamnet will be around through June 30, when it enters its well-deserved retirement.  Rest assured that any Hamnet links you may have saved will re-direct to the same record in the new catalog.

  1. Marshall Breeding, “Library Systems Report 2017: Competing visions for technology, openness, and workflow,” American Libraries. May 1, 2017. Accessed 2022-04-28 at
  2. Marshall Breeding, “Library Systems Report 2018: New technologies enable an expanded vision of library services,” American Libraries. May 1, 2018. Accessed 2022-04-28 at
  3. Keep in mind that not everything in the digital image database has a link from the catalog yet. Just because “Available online” doesn’t show up in the catalog doesn’t mean it’s not in LUNA.
  4. See MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data for a full list of standard MARC codes. List of fields in active use at the Folger to come.
  5. Records for Folger vault items that contain links to scanned images of that item in LUNA will show as available online and in the vault.


    • Sure! Go to and click the “Search Tips” link near the bottom of the screen. There’s a “MARC Fields” section about halfway down the Search Tips page.

      We’ll be posting a Folger-specific guide that links to Folger cataloging policy for the different fields, including local fields, but that’s still being written. Meanwhile, keep in mind that copy-specific notes for published materials are in in MARC 852$z, while equivalent notes for manuscripts, drawings, and other unpublished material are in their specialized MARC fields (e.g., MARC 561 for provenance, MARC 563 for binding description).

      Try copy-and-pasting this into the search box, for example:
      336%%a:"still image" AND 600:"taming of the shrew" NOT 655:(photographs OR paintings)
      (that’s just a random off-the-top-of-my-head example of the syntax, not a search anyone is likely to want to do)

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)