Books and Borrowing 1750-1830

Looking Forward to 2022

The Books and Borrowing team have now returned to work after the holidays – in the first half of 2022, we’re entering a crucial stage of the project as we build out the materials we have in the system, cover the libraries we have yet to engage with in detail, conduct contextualisation and normalisation, and begin to work on designing the interface through which users will be able to access the database in 2023. As Katie mentioned in her post before Christmas, we have an exciting series of public events coming up in the first half of 2022, but during this period, we’ll also be looking to enter data from the libraries we have yet really to cover, trying to get the full range incorporated before we turn in the last year of the project to adding further records from the very large runs. The last year will also be the time when the team will do the lion’s share of the writing up and when we’ll be able to use all the data we’ve entered to resolve anomalies and complete the interpretive work that will address the project’s broader research questions.

We’re very glad to have Alex Deans back with us – Alex will be doing some further work on Westerkirk, but will be focusing particularly on the Chambers Circulating Library register, which the National Library of Scotland has now restored and made available to us. Being able to include rare surviving records from a commercial circulating library is a considerable boon for the project, expanding the demographics of the borrowers represented in the system and providing a meaningful contrast to the institutional and subscription libraries that provide the bulk of our data. Kit is forging ahead with the records of the Advocates Library, the last of the large runs we need to sample and survey. Gerry is currently working on the records of Dumfries Presbytery Library, which, along with the records from Aberdeen, will let us see how different borrowings from collections with an explicitly religious framing were.  We’ll soon have the full run of Royal High School records in the system, thanks to Maxine. Over the next few months, we plan to focus principally on the other smaller libraries, working further on the data from Selkirk Subscription Library and the John Gray Library at Haddington kindly provided by Viv Dunstan and entering further records from the Leighton Library and the Orkney Library. Hopefully, by the midpoint of the year, we’ll have the vast majority of the borrowings from these smaller runs in the system, as well as all the registers we’ll be digitising. At that point, we’ll be able to work on imposing work designations, on the genre taxonomy, and on entering further records from our three biggest sets of registers (the Advocates, Edinburgh University Library and St Andrews University Library).

That’s the plan, at any rate. Keep checking back to see how we get on…