ESTC-matching project expands to other Northwestern libraries

Generous funding from Northwestern University Libraries has guaranteed the expansion of “Renaissance Books, Midwestern Libraries,” an initiative I began in 2014 with a Mellon-based seed grant. This undergraduate-powered project aims to report Northwestern’s pre-1700 Special Collections holdings to the English Short Title Catalogue, the British Library’s foremost online catalog for early printed books printed in England or in English. When we began almost four years ago, Northwestern’s representation in the ESTC was a meager 188, but thanks to the diligent work of Weinberg College students Hannah Bredar, Erin Nelson, Nicole Sheriko, Katie Poland, and Jake Phillips, there are over 2,500 pre-1700 volumes at Northwestern Special Collections matched to the catalog, with shelfmarks and some copy-specific details. Updates on the first phase and second phase of this project, which included exhibits and symposia, can be found on this website.

In this third stage of this project, I have teamed up with my English Ph.D. colleague Anne Boemler to supervise the reporting of hundreds of pre-1700 books at smaller Northwestern-affiliated libraries. These libraries include: Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary’s Styberg Library, the Galter Health Sciences Library, and the Northwestern Law Library. We estimate there may be as many as 3,000 ESTC-eligible books printed before 1700 at these smaller libraries; matching them into the catalog would double the work we have done already, putting these items “on the map” for scholars/ESTC users who might be in town to conduct research nearby (say, at the Newberry Library). This portion of the work is also an opportunity to refine Northwestern’s ESTC presence more broadly — for instance, a library code still existed for Northwestern’s Dental Library, which was subsumed into the Galter Library when the Dental School closed decades ago.

In addition to reporting the pre-1700 books at these libraries, Phillips and Poland are also associating each of these volumes with an EEBO-TCP code. This will offer Martin Mueller a clearer idea of which poorly-imaged EEBO titles might be redigitized freshly for users requiring textual content (part of a move toward a “FrEEBO”).

This phase of the work is expected to continue through the end of the Spring term, concluding with an exhibit on theological books at the Styberg Library. If you are interested in knowing more about what old books can be found at Northwestern, feel free to email me; I can supply a mostly comprehensive list of pre-1700 holdings at the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections in Evanston. The list will continue to grow as this Spring’s collaboration goes forward.

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