Summer update by Early Novels Database Fellow Katy Frank ’17
It’s fitting that on the second-to-last day of work, we got a tour of the newly remodeled section of UPenn’s rare book space. The routine of my job involved cataloguing rare books in the mornings, and either working on projects or learning from guest lectures or correcting plain text versions of old books in the afternoons, and getting a tour was a special treat. I loved looking at the various collections – a collection of everything Gulliver’s Travels related, for example, as well as a fantastic comic collection – that added color to the burgundy, dark green, and navy blue nineteenth-century bindings (even if the books inside the bindings were from earlier centuries) that surrounded us. Our tour guide pointed at one of these latter books and said to us, “Now this binding screams robber baron trying to build his book collection,” and as we all nodded in assent, I thought happily about how much I have learned this summer in order to be able to agree with him so emphatically.
I’ve learned how to recognize and roughly chronologically and geographically place bindings, marginalia, fonts, and other various physical aspects of a book; I’ve learned the HTML-esque library cataloguing computer language MarcXML; I’ve learned the particular method of cataloguing for the Early Novels Database; I’ve learned about contemporary debates and hot topics within the field of Digital Humanities; and I’ve learned a great deal about the history of the novel in the West, conventions of the eighteenth century epistolary novel, and random bits of the history of reading in the West. I’ve made new friends, found my way around UPenn, and thoroughly enjoyed my summer.