History of Printing

  • The Atlas of Early Printing. “The Atlas of Early Printing is an interactive site designed to be used as a tool for teaching the early history of printing in Europe during the second half of the fifteenth century. While printing in Asia pre-dates European activity by several hundred years, the rapid expansion of the trade following the discovery of printing in Mainz, Germany around the middle of the fifteenth century is a topic of great importance to the history of European civilization. This website uses Flash to depict the spread of European printing in a manner that allows a user to control dates and other variables.”
  • Atlas of the Rhode Island Book Trade in the Eighteenth Century. “The Atlas of the Rhode Island Book Trade in the Eighteenth Century attempts to map as many members of the book trade as possible—printers, booksellers, and many more—in both space and time. The information within the Atlas was derived from dozens of sources, ranging from maps and histories of Rhode Island towns to land records and court documents.”
  • Bibliopolis. “Bibliopolis is the electronic national history of the printed book in the Netherlands. It is a scholarly, interactive information system with which the researcher can gain insight into the state of affairs in the history of the book and access documentation.”

History of Libraries

  • Dan Cohen, “Visualizing the Uniqueness, and Conformity, of Libraries”
  • A forlorn technology.
  • American Libraries Before 1876.  “Entries in the database were keyed in at Princeton University from data on punch cards that had been compiled by Haynes McMullen.  A glance at the punched cards, which have all been scanned, shows that the database was compiled over decades.  In fact, some of the information was gathered by Jesse Shera, who turned it over to Haynes McMullen.  Although long interested in library history (McMullen’s doctoral dissertation at Chicago was on the history of the University of Chicago Library), the major effort in gathering the data that is recorded here began in 1951.  That was the year when McMullen left practicing librarianship to become a library educator.  He retired from the library school of the University of North Carolina.”

History of Circulation and Reception

  • Dissenting Academies Online: Virtual Library System.  “The Virtual Library System is a union catalogue which represents the holdings and loans of selected dissenting academies in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It has been compiled from a range of sources, including historic catalogues, shelf lists, loan registers, and surviving books from the academy libraries. Each record in the system describes a single edition of a given work and consists of three parts: bibliographic data harvested from modern library catalogues; information about the copies held in different academy libraries; and, where available, evidence of borrowing.”
  • The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe, 1769-1794. “The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe project uses database technology to map the trade of the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel (STN), a celebrated Swiss publishing house that operated between 1769 and 1794. As the STN sold the works of other publishers alongside its own editions, their archives can be considered a representative source for studying the history of the book trade and dissemination of ideas in the late Enlightenment.” Robert Darnton’s review of the database.
  • Mapping the Republic of Letters. “Mapping the Republic of Letters is a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and international project in the digital humanities, centered at Stanford University. Since 2008, we have been creating visualizations to analyze ‘big data’ relating to the world of early-modern scholars. We focus primarily on their correspondence, travel, and social networks. While we make use of quantitative metrics to examine the scope and dimensions of our data, we remain committed to the qualitative methodologies of the humanities. We actively encourage collaborations with other projects.”
  • The Reading Experience Database.  “RED is an open-access database housed at The Open University containing over 30,000 easily searchable records documenting the history of reading in Britain from 1450 to 1945. Evidence of reading presented in RED is drawn from published and unpublished sources as diverse as diaries, commonplace books, memoirs, sociological surveys, and criminal court and prison records.” Plans to expand the database globally are afoot.
  • City Readers: Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library. “The New York Society Library’s database of historic records, books, and readers. Search, browse, and visualization tools support the discovery and analysis of over 100,000 biographic, bibliographic, and transaction data, derived from digitized content from our archives. Circulation records from 1789 to 1805, when the Library shared Federal Hall with the first American Congress, have been fully digitized and transcribed, and the data is now available for free through City Readers. By providing detailed metadata for the books and readers documented in the charging ledgers, City Readers is a virtual reconstruction of the Library as a social and literary institution in New York at the turn of the eighteenth century.”
  • Jennifer Howard, “Secret Lives of Readers,” Chronicle of Higher Education, December 17, 2012 on work of Leah Price and the RED.
  • Jennifer Howard, “Books Across Borders,” Chronicle of Higher Education, December 17, 2012 on transnational studies of South African book history.
  • “Subscribers Maps, Redux”.  Mapping subscription lists from Thomas Prince’s Chronological History of New England, Audubon’s Birds of America, and the first American edition of Laurence Sterne’s works, published at Philadelphia in 1774.
  • The Material and Social Practices of Intellectual Work: Jonathan Edwards’s Study: An Online Exhibition. “This exhibit accompanies the article published in the William and Mary Quarterly of October 2012 entitled ‘Material and Social Practices in Intellectual Work in the Eighteenth-Century: Jonathan Edwards’s Study,’ by Wilson H. Kimnach and Kenneth P. Minkema.”


  • Article on the rediscovery in the library of the University of Montreal two books brought by the Jesuits to New France. (April 4, 2010)

Bibliographical Tools

  • The Universal Short Title Catalogue. University of St. Andrews.
  • Latin Place Names. Bibliographic Standards Committee. Association of College and Research Libraries. Rare Books and Manuscripts Section.
  • Library API Directory. Web communities use APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to create an open structure for sharing web content and data on a range of different sites.  Allows data from one site to populate other sites.  This gives a list of 55 different APIs for libraries (12/12/2012)


  • The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland, 3 vols. Vol. 1: To 1640, ed. By Elisabeth Leedham-Green and Teresa Webber; vol. 2: 1640-1850, ed. by Giles Mandelbrote and K.A. Manley; vol. 3: 1850-2000, ed. by Alistair Black and Peter Hoare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  • J.W. Clark, The Care of Books: An Essay on the Development of Libraries and their Fittings, from the Earliest Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902; repr. 2009)
  • Fred Lerner, The Story of Libraries from the Invention of Printing to the Computer Age, 2nd edn (New Haven and London: Continuum, 2009)
  • David Pearson, Books as History: The Importance of Books beyond their Texts (London: British Library and New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 2008)
  • James Raven (ed.), Lost Libraries: The Destruction of Great Book Collections since Antiquity (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)
  • D.H. Stam (ed.), International Dictionary of Library Histories, 2 vols. (Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001)


  • Koha. Open source Intergrated Library System software that can be modified for a virtual library system.
  • Stacklife. An experimental way of visualizing book data from libraries.  Developed by the Harvard Library Innovation Lab.

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