Sangster, Matthew, Karen Baston and Brian Aitken. Eighteenth-Century Borrowing from the University of Glasgow. University of Glasgow, 2020,

18centuryborrowinguglasgow_r2p5_enhua zhu
Sangster, Matthew, Karen Baston and Brian Aitken. Eighteenth-Century Borrowing from the University of Glasgow. University of Glasgow, 2020,
10/7/2021 22:31:12
URL for full object
Citation for full object
Sangster, Matthew, Karen Baston and Brian Aitken. Eighteenth-Century Borrowing from the University of Glasgow. University of Glasgow, 2020,
Filename in shared drive folder
18CenturyBorrowingUGlasgow_R2P5_Enhua Zhu
General description of the complete original artifact
This is a record of borrowing from the library of the University of Glasgow between March 1757 and January 1771. It consists of 3 registers with a total of more than 8000 entries, all hand-written in italicized English characters while the writer(s) and instrument for writing clearly changed over the course of time. The dataset was composed for the librarians to note down key information regarding all borrowing, and such information includes (from left to right, shown across a record) student’s name, class (the student was taking), exact place the book was taken (occupies three records, bookcase-shelf-number), name of the book, professor signing (name of professor(s) who authorized the borrowing), date lent (loaned) and date returned.
Estimated number of records in data set
Estimated number of fields if this were a database
Estimated time to digitize all records in set (hours)
Time period when data was created
March 1757 to January 1771
Organization creating data
University of Glasgow’s Library
Individual who created data (if known or guessable).
Librarians of University of Glasgow, known as Keepers in 18th century
Shortcomings of this taxonomy for data set (if any)
Taxonomy of borrower The only identifications of a borrower are name and class. The taxonomy worked well when the group borrowing was relatively small like a typical 18th century university community, however, the dataset would be misleading if the same taxonomy was applied in NYU today as people might have same name and be in the same class and librarians could easily lose track of who borrowed which books. Taxonomy of authorization According to rules stated in the frontpage (also hand-written, hardly but still distinguishable), normally it requires a professor’s signature for a student to borrow a book; for particular books, it requires three professor’s signatures. However, when the Keeper (librarian) wanted to borrow a book, no signature is required unless the book requires three professor’s signatures. So, if someone don’t know the name of (probably previous) librarians, one would be unable to distinguish between an unauthorized borrowing and Keeper’s borrowing, and it would confuse readers. Also, in some cases a book supposed to be authorized by three professors suddenly only authorized by two or one. One more field for additional notes would help to explain and to categorize. Taxonomy of date Only month and day were mentioned in the date lent and date returned fields. Though everyone who was filling out the form know the year, but it would be hard for readers to keep track of it since years do vary in the same register and nowhere else, as far as I could see, shows the year when the borrowing happened except the page where a certain year starts. One had to check the year by looking for the starting page, which was tedious. Taxonomy of borrowing and returning Whether or not the student returns the book on time was not mentioned here. It might be in a separate database; however, it would be better to add a field for showing the actual date the book was returned so that one can clearly see whether the book is in the library instead of assuming it is in the library any moment after the due date. If the actual returning date was not filled, the book must be somewhere else. Another minor problem is that inspections should not be listed together as they do not fall into any field (category) as it has nothing to do with borrowing. It does not belong to this particular database.
Notes about the image you chose
This page shows how University of Glasgow used to arrange its borrowing. All fields are filled up with different data about the occurrence of certain borrowing as mentioned in the general description. An interesting note is that it is purely hand-written like most pre-computer or almost all pre-typewriter/punch card age datasets. Therefore, even all in italicized style, one still can see how it was composed by different librarians or even there is a possibility that these students had access to the records and signed their names, given that some names look completely different from other fields after the column of names. (Note how they wrote “J” differently when writing James Baird, John Robinson and James Morehead). It would be an implicit data regarding how many people participated in processing the borrowing (or simply processed the paperwork) even within 3 days. Also, the page further demonstrates a problem in taxonomy or simply an operational error: for James Morehead’s borrowing, nothing about professor authorization was given. The section was crossed off instead of left blank or added notes. So, he could either be the Keeper, or he was not following the rule, or this could be the librarian’s issue to let him take the book first and find a professor to sign for him later. Finally, the page includes “inspected by Mr. Moor”. From my point of view, this is another problem: it has nothing to do with borrowing and will not fit the format; it should be in librarian’s own notes.