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Friday, September 29, 2006

The joy of cataloguing

I was also struck by this Guardian item. A graduate student has found an up-till-now lost poem by Robert Frost, which was written in pencil by the author inside a copy of one of his poetry collections. That particular copy was given to a friend, and it ended up in the Library of the University of Virginia. The student, Robert Stilling, was reading some of Frost's correspondence, in the Library, and made the connection between a letter mentioning the book, and the actual copy of that book held in the Library.

This all goes to show:

You never know when something in the Library collections (or the medical literature, either, for that matter) will become important;
Cataloguing some material in detail is important: presumably the library catalogue (or catalog) recorded the provenance of that patricular copy of the book.

Marc Abraham's "Improbable Research" column last week talked about library materials being lost because they were not catalogued accurately. He was talking about Irish Gaelic materials being catalogued as if "Na" was the first word of the title, when in fact it means "The". I have found this so many times over the years, even with titles in French and German, let alone more unusual languages. Filing "The Lancet" under "The", even...

More at:

http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,1883689,00.html (Frost)

http://education.guardian.co.uk/egweekly/story/0,,1880490,00.html (Improbable Research)

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