The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Signature statements in book cataloging

Today’s post returns to the cliffhanger at the end of Tuesday’s Physical description in book cataloging overview: if [4], CXXII leaves : ill. ; 31 cm (fol.) forms a complete physical description in a library catalog, then what’s up with a4 A-O8 P10 and where does it fit in? a4 A-O8 P10 is an example of a signature statement, sometimes also called a collation (one of the many meanings of “collation” for which this blog is named).… Continue Reading

Physical description in book cataloging

Does a4 A-O8 P10 make perfect sense to you? If so, please read on anyway. This isn’t a post on how to decode a collational formula. It’s a post about what to expect (and what not to expect) in the “physical description” portion of a library catalog record for a book. In other words, the part that looks like this in a Hamnet record, taking the record for the 1513 Venetian edition of Macrobius’s Commentaries on the Dream of Scipio as an example: International Standard Bibliographic Description (yes, there is an international standard) calls this part of the record the Material Description Area.… Continue Reading


Building a Replica of the John Wilkes Booth Diary

Guest Post by Folger conservator Austin Plann Curley “You can’t always get what you want.” So said the Rolling Stones in 1969. Such was the case for the Folger Shakespeare Library in our recent request to borrow the Diary of John Wilkes Booth for our current exhibition America’s Shakespeare, which runs through July 24, 2016. Ford’s Theater keeps the diary on permanent display alongside other artifacts from the assassination.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: May 2016

Here’s a mystery of the Crocodile manner for May. The text shown in this image is one piece of a larger whole, but the question is what is it and how does it relate to the whole? As always, post your comments and thoughts below. We’ll be back with clarifying information next week.… Continue Reading

In Defense of the Card Catalog

Whenever I am giving a tour of our Reading Rooms, or introducing a new Reader to our collection, I always make it a point to mention that we still have a card catalog room (two, in fact—one primarily for our printed collections, and one primarily for our manuscripts and art collections), which together hold forty separate series of cards. The responses I get to this fact are varied, ranging from “Oh thank goodness, I’m so much more comfortable using a card catalog!” to “A what?” (along with nearly every possible response in between).… Continue Reading