What’s My Story? A Bibliophile Catalogs His Home Library

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March 22, 2012 by The Editor

Recently I took on a volunteer gig, an accomplishment in a country where volunteering is as competitive as finding a job. I’ve been out of the workforce for about five years now. Although I worked for a number of years as a librarian, my recent library-related activities have largely involved meeting my friend Esmerelda for lunch during her research at the British Library or attending a lecture at said institution. Now with a weekly shift in the library of Leo Baeck College, Europe’s largest progressive rabbinical seminary, I am using my training again, feeling a bit like a squeaky bicycle brought out of the basement after a long winter.

In my previous library work at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago, I was able to train in many facets of library work, including cataloging, acquisitions, instruction, and reference. It was this last element that I enjoyed most at the time, engaging students, faculty, and the general public, working with their questions and undertaking research on their behalf in ways large and small.

In my new volunteer work, I am now mostly cataloging books and pamphlets. Thinking back to library school, I did pretty well. The only class in which I received less than an A- was cataloging. I’m not sure cataloging can be taught in an exciting way, but there are certainly ways to make it deathly boring. I was in that class. There was no way I would ever have become a cataloger if it were down to that classroom experience in which the professor rarely raised his voice above a murmur while vaguely explaining what can be an obtuse, quirky system. Nonetheless, I have come to really enjoy it!

And, in what may be a sign of an excess of enthusiasm for cataloging and my newfound volunteerism, I have also decided to catalog our home library! However, {T}here are many reasons that you might want to do this. {which I will enumerate in the coming weeks. For the first post in my new series The Bibliophile in which I will share my home cataloging process, } For the moment, I would like simply to share a few images from a book that I have had for many years.

Girls are like dolls! Hammond’s Family Reference World Atlas, Hanover House, 1963

These images come from Hammond’s Family Reference World Atlas, New Revised Edition, MCMLXIII. I have had this with me since the 1980’s. It was given to me by an elderly woman in Petoskey, Michigan where I lived between my time as an A1C and a freshman at the University of Michigan. I met this lady at a rooming house we both lived in, shared with several quirky, interesting people some of whom I’m still in touch with nearly 30 years later.

Moon Colony! Hammond’s Family Reference World Atlas, Hanover House, 1963

The book is in rough shape, as it was when it was given to me. Recently I toyed with the idea of having it rebound, but the cost involved outweighed my lack of any real sentimental attachment to an object which is readily available to buy on many websites for a very small amount of money.

Once, all were primitives! Hammond’s Family Reference World Atlas, Hanover House, 1963

The Bomb! Hammond’s Family Reference World Atlas, Hanover House, 1963

So many changes! Hammond’s Family Reference World Atlas, Hanover House, 1963

This is not a valuable atlas, but nonetheless I do enjoy the images. It may transform yet, perhaps a few of the better maps will find their way into a frame. It’s not as though I’d be breaking up a 17th century treasure.

Hebrews lived in New York City and Chicago! Hammond’s Family Reference World Atlas, Hanover House, 1963

The peasants of Belgium. Hammond’s Family Reference World Atlas, Hanover House, 1963

The romance of child labor. Thanks TWA! Hammond’s Family Reference World Atlas, Hanover House, 1963

Cominform. My nostalgia is rising… Hammond’s Family Reference World Atlas, Hanover House, 1963

What to do with damaged books in general? It depends on the circumstances. As a general rule, don’t use scotch tape to repair torn pages. If you aren’t able to research basic book repair, ask a librarian for help! Weigh whether the book is worth repair at all. I’ll keep this atlas, but it will be cataloged under ‘damaged’ and held together with a piece of string.

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One thought on “What’s My Story? A Bibliophile Catalogs His Home Library

  1. There’s nothing sweeter than going back to your first love. I like the order and easy access that come from cataloguing. Englandtriptips.com

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