Week 5: The Final Project

It’s finally here – the end, well, sort of the end. More like the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. This course has taught me so much about books and how to think about them differently. This week we were to “finish” our final project as we will be presenting them on Tuesday and Thursday. I say “finish” in quotation marks because these projects shouldn’t really be finished. Mine isn’t at least. I could work on mine for the other 49 states, but I may hold off on that for a little bit.

My frustrations were only with WorldCat and it’s unreliableness due to the way it portrays its vast amount of information. I worked through my struggles though, hugely in part to Dr. Pauley, and completed my project for the time being. Dr. Bankhurst also reassured me about my project and I now feel a lot better about it. I know think about the questions that involve a book’s history, like, where it came from, who owned it, why was it made the way it was, etc.

If anything, I’m more interested now in books than I was to begin this class. Perhaps I’m interested in different ways, but I count that as a success.

Just like that, another class is finished, another semester is over, and I’m one step closer to graduation. Time flies when you’re digging up the stories of old books.

Click here if you want to see my project.

Week 4: Progress

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass

Upon meeting with Dr. Pauley this past week, I was able to hone in on what I am actually trying to convey as my message to my final project. I am switching gears just a little bit. I’m still doing the project over Notes on the State of Virginia, I am just focusing my project to show the books in the different Oklahoma universities and public libraries. This collection of copies and editions that reside in Oklahoma surprised me, if I could be quite honest. I figure the book is popular amongst the historians/history professors, students, etc. who are interested in Jefferson or maybe they really want to know more about Virginia in the 18th century. Either way, I’m just glad to say I finally feel comfortable with my project.

This week is my finals week, and I’d be lying if I said I’m looking forward to my Microeconomics final on Wednesday. It’s actually stressful enough to give me heart palpitations.

Pertaining to my project, I now have a more narrowed-down list of Notes that reside in the different surrounding universities. Once I know I have a completed list (my goal for Thursday), I will then create my Google map of Oklahoma and plot the different copies at the varying locations. I will also start my timeline at this point.

The end is very near, but once I survive my finals, I can focus all of my attention on finishing this project the way I would like.

Week 3: Pre-Finals Week

It’s like I’m back in the first week, feeling the pressures of classes ending – except they are literally ending in four days. EVERYTHING is fine. Finals week is next week. EVERYTHING is still fine.

This week has not been overly productive as I haven’t been able to meet up with my librarian to talk to her about the book. She knows the history of the book and how it came to our campus. With Kelly being the only librarian, apart from her assistant, even at a small campus there is not enough of her to go around. Our schedules have clashed as the end of the semester comes to a close, but I will be setting up a time to talk with her this week.

I managed to borrow the copy of the “Notes on the State of Virginia” we have in our library – the copy I can actually take out of the library. I snapped some photos of the few differences I found between the new, 1955 edition, and the 1801 archive book we have. I can only keep the newer edition out until the end of the semester (due in 10 days), so I may have to talk to Kelly in order to keep it a few days longer if needed. USAO’s semester ends earlier than this COPLAC class does, so I’ll be battling with timing.

Update on last week’s promise: I do not have my completed list of books, but it’s still in the works.

Week 2: Internet Scavenger Hunt

The internet can be a peculiar thing of information. Seemingly infinite, but it doesn’t cooperate when you truly want it to. Last week, I ran into the wall of only finding the editions of “Notes” I had found prior to this final project. After gaining some insight and help into other ways to research this book, I was able to locate and create a list of the books found on those websites.

I have yet to thoroughly search through the records to see if they are duplicates or not. I also have some information I need to look into on my campus and talk with my librarian. That is my main goal this week – along with compiling all of this information into a readable spreadsheet of publication location and year.

Week 1: Updates on my final project

This is about the time in the semester when I realize I have three weeks of classes left. With that being said, I will not allow stress, anxiety, fear, or any form of those three come together and rule my life. No sir. I actually welcome this time of the semester because that is when I realize just how much I can do in very little time.

With our final projects underway, I’m remarkably calm. I’ve managed to write my “About” page with information about the Social Life of Books class, as well as the “History” page with information about the history of Notes on the State of Virginia.

I’ve also started my research on different editions of the book, but I’ve run into the same problem of only being able to pull a couple of editions from the English Short Title Catalogue. Therefore, I am still searching for ways to find and document different editions.

I will prevail.

Borrowing Books during the Early 19th Century

In our fifth and final assignment for the semester, we utilized a tool called Kumu. Kumu is a tool that builds and presents diagrams that shows connections between concepts, people, etc. For this assignment, we used Kumu to connect books and library borrowers. In order to find the information, we used the Dissenting Academies Online. The Dissenting Academies Online is a website that has a wide variety of information about dissenting higher education during the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

For the purpose of challenging myself, I chose a slightly different time from the tutorial given to us to see if I could accomplish this assignment on my own. I decided on the dates between August 1, 1825, to July 31, 1826, in order to cover the length of a school year. I stuck with Manchester Academy because the Dissenting Academies Online website gave me a lot of listings to work with.

The process of searching the virtual library on the Koha Online Catalogue and using Zotero to scrape the data needed into Google Sheets tested my patience. I was overwhelmed with joy when I completed the mapping process, I must say. By doing this, we are able to look back at a time period and easily see who borrowed a book, at what date, and how many times, if applicable.

On my map, the yellow dots indicate the borrower. The turquoise dots indicate the books they borrowed from the library. The thicker the line attached to the dots, the more times they borrowed that particular book. The yellow dots on the outside which are not connected to anyone else simply means that one person borrowed a book or books that no one else during that time borrowed.

Kumu provides a fun way of searching for a certain person and enables us to learn their book loan history. Whether they borrowed books for school education or personal curiosity, we can learn a lot about their habits. By clicking on any of the dots on the map, you can learn either about the book borrower or the book itself.

This assignment was my absolute favorite. I’m a very visual person and Kumu is the type of visual tools I enjoy looking at and using.


1. About the Dissenting Academies Online

Locating Jefferson’s “Notes on the States of Virginia”

Our fourth assignment was to identify a work published before 1800 that the English Short Title Catalogue shows to have been published in at least three different places and create a map showing those locations.

While searching the English Short Title Catalogue for Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia I found myself perhaps a bit distraught. Not so much at the overwhelming abundance of printed books, but rather the underwhelming amount. For this project, I was hoping to find many, many copies of said book and map them accordingly. I pictured many location markers illustrated on the map and hoped they would land all over the world. This is not so. Thomas Jefferson’s book was only listed six times on the ESTC, but amid technical problems, I was only able to successfully grab three of the listings.

Zotero is the tool we used which helped us scrape and gather data from the English Short Title Catalogue. From there, we inputted the data into a Google Sheets page and used that information to map our findings using Google Maps.

I found this task to be daunting, but I welcome any task that is challenging. Jefferson’s book was located in Baltimore, Maryland, Paris, France, and London, England. Perhaps someone from Virginia read the book, later traveling to Baltimore and left it there. Perhaps a curious Marylander wanted to read up on their neighboring state. Maybe Thomas Jefferson himself brought along a copy of his own book. For the other two places outside of the United States, I do not have any great guesses about why they were located there.

Without further ado, here is my map showing the distributions of Notes on the State of Virginia.

Words Passed Through Time

The experience of actually diving into a book and recreating the history of it was more challenging than I expected. I made it a point this time to jot down some notes pertaining to the information I needed for this assignment. Things like the book’s publication city, who the publisher was, the genre, the book’s purpose, and where the book is today filled up my notebook as I searched for the perfect book. I met up with Kelly Brown again and we went to the archives in search of a book that had provenance in it. She informed me that most schools’ libraries keep records of whether or not a book has marginalia in it – ours does not do this. So the task got a bit harder as I had to individually search each book from the archive shelves. Instantly I found myself searching for older books that I assumed people would write in. To my disbelief, I found only two books within the hour and a half I spent there that had any form of writing in them that wasn’t just on the inside cover. Finally, I laid my eyes upon a rather worn book and pulled it from the shelf. A New Political Economy was the title and as I frantically flipped through the pages, I found just what I was looking for. There were all sorts of evidence of provenance throughout the book and I felt extremely relieved.

After I managed to find the book, I talked to Kelly about the family as I recognized the donor’s name in many other books we had. She informed me of their history in Chickasha and the woman’s history at the college. Mary Hewett Bailey was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma. The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) was originally called Oklahoma College for Women (OCW). She earned a degree in English and mathematics at OCW and taught for 42 years. It seems she was the sole owner of the book unless it was passed down through her family. This book along with many others was donated to USAO. Our school is so small that I am beginning to realize that the books in our collection are not that old. They will just be collections of those who lived here or had a history at the university. While there is nothing wrong with that, I felt disappointed that more people did not write in their books. This project did make me think differently about marginalia. I do it quite often in my books. I feel as though it’s a way of communicating thoughts that one person had about a certain text. The wonderful thing about those markings is that another person might feel differently – and that’s okay. That’s why they were written. While I wish I found more books that had provenance, I am simply happy to have found the one I did and connect it back to my university.

*Note: Clicking on the images opens up the full-size image

Behind the Scenes

Front cover of "Notes on the State of Virginia" by Thomas Jefferson - bound together with a shoestring
The book is bound with an old string to hold the covers together.
Front cover and front page of "Notes on the State of Virginia" unbound
Inside look at the worn book

Getting to revisit Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia with new expectations, I found some interesting items that I did not notice when I first handled the book. I learned more about the book and about the time period in which it was made. In order to learn this information, I had to test my hand at some bibliographical work. Read More

Welcome to Nash Library

For the collective four years I have attended the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, I haven’t spent much time in our library. Now, I’m asking myself “why?” I met with the director of Nash Library, Kelly Brown, who has worked for the University for fifteen years. I could tell just upon emailing her how excited she was to dive into the archive section and help me through this course. As I walked into her office, I noticed a small stack of books already laid out on her desk and the moment I sat down, she was already throwing ideas at me.

Read More