A thoughtfully-placed barcode

A few months ago I had a little rant about a library label pasted over a nicely-typeset title-page.


This week I was heartened to discover an example of a librarian from Manchester being rather more thoughtful, avoiding pasting a barcode onto a carefully-designed title-page, instead putting a rather less intrusive note in pencil to direct the reader to the following page for the barcode. Good work from Manchester!




Blake & Black Sabbath

Is there a connection? I’m not sure, but a former reader of Marcia Pointon’s Milton and English Art (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1970) evidently thought so. The band did have an album called ‘Heaven and Hell’ (also the name of a group comprising some members of Black Sabbath active between 2006 and 2010) which could be a reference to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (please comment if you know), but the precise connection (if any) to the watercolour The Judgement of Adam and Eve alongside which the reader has left their mark is lost on me. Suggestions welcome!



Traces of former use

Currently on my shelf of library books is Leopold Damrosch, Jr.’s Symbol and Truth in Blake’s Myth (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981). There’s not much by way of annotations in this copy, but I was interested by two traces of bygone library borrowing practices.


Hidden between pages 280 and 281 (left there for the next reader to find) was a torn piece of paper, presumably used as a bookmark. Nothing unusual in that of course, but it was the dated text reading “SELF RENEWALS” that signals that this particular insertion pre-dates online renewals.



Flipping back to the front fly-leaf, I was also struck by the borrowing slip – the last date is 2005. It is conceivable that this is actually the last time the book was taken out, but I have no way of knowing. Nowadays books are rarely stamped when they leave the library because nearly everything goes through self-issue machines (thus the new barcode stuck over an old one here), so the borrowing history of a book is no longer recorded in the book itself and remains the preserve of the librarians. This particular book has also lost the physical traces of some of its earlier borrowing history – evident from the sections of “Cancelled” stamps which tell of a former borrowing slip. Those stamped dates are one kind of marks in library books I do miss.