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Saturday, November 7 • 10:45am - 11:15am
Rapid Collections Surveying with Book Traces @ U.Va.

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Many donated books in circulating collections have value as historical artifacts due to unique interventions by their former owners, such as marginalia, inscriptions, and inserts (see booktraces.org for examples). These interventions can potentially offer a trove of evidence of how books have been consumed across time and what they meant to past cultures, but are generally undocumented and therefore undiscoverable through library catalogs. Moreover, as circulating copies, these books may be vulnerable to damage, loss, and withdrawal. Book Traces @ U.Va. is a two-year effort to survey pre-1923 books in the University of Virginia circulating collection for uniquely modified volumes and enhance our catalog to make them more readily discoverable. Because our target population is large—up to 180,000 volumes—we are developing techniques for rapidly sampling the collection through a randomized, statistically representative selection from each call number subclass. We believe our statistical samples will point the way for deeper exploration of subject areas where the books are especially rich in evidence of historical readership, and in this session we will present our preliminary findings as well as an overview of our survey and sampling techniques. Participants will take away a set of actionable ideas for surveying collections and enhancing metadata on a modest budget. Attendees will also hear about how considering non-rare books as historical artifacts may re-shape our approach to retention and off-site storage decisions.


Kristin Jensen

Project Manager, University of Virginia Library
avatar for Carla Lee

Carla Lee

Interim Senior Director, Harrison-Small Research Center, University of Virginia

Saturday November 7, 2015 10:45am - 11:15am EST
Pinckney Room, Francis Marion Hotel