English short title catalogue

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The English Short-Title Catalogue, or ESTC, is a "comprehensive, international union catalogue listing early books, serials, newspapers and selected ephemera printed before 1801. It contains catalogue entries for items issued in Britain, Ireland, overseas territories under British colonial rule, and the United States. Also included is material printed elsewhere which contains significant text in English, Welsh, Irish or Gaelic, as well as any book falsely claiming to have been printed in Britain or its territories. The database contains over 480,000 entries, and represents the holdings of some 2,000 libraries world-wide."

ESTC and Hamnet

Ambox notice.png This section is currently a draft.

Eighteenth-century phase

The ESTC started life as the "Eighteenth-Century Short-Title Catalogue," following the pattern of abbreviated short title catalogs established in print by Pollard & Redgrave covering 1473-1640, and Donald Wing for 1641-1700. The editorial center at the British Library recataloged its 18th-century holdings. The North American editorial center solicited reports from American libraries of their holdings, and created new records and matched holdings from these reports. ESTC numbers for 18th-century records created by the British Library are prefaced with a 'T'; those created by the North American office begin with an 'N'. The Folger was an important early contributor to the project. There were a number of ways libraries reported their holdings to the ESTC; the Folger chose to send photocopied title pages with bibliographic information attached.

STC and Wing phases

Once the 18th-century was considered substantially finished, the ESTC arranged to incorporate the earlier short-title catalogues into its database, and changed its name to English Short Title Catalogue. Electronic files of STC and Wing were loaded as "placeholder" and "unedited" records into the ESTC.

Instead of canvassing libraries for reports of their holdings for this phase of the project, ESTC staff worked with published resources to flesh out records and match holding libraries. Cataloging standards also changed, and these records were much fuller, belying the "short-titleness" of the original. In addition to the Folger holdings already recorded in STC and Wing, ESTC/NA staff added pre-1701 Folger holdings to the database by working through the G.K. Hall catalog.

The Folger's ESTC Project

Matching to the ESTC

The Folger collection of in-scope holdings are intended to be completely represented in the ESTC. Pre-1701 and some 18th-century holdings were added to the ESTC database by Folger catalogers. Most 18th-century holdings were added by ESTC staff based on Folger reports to the North American editorial center during the initial, 18th-century phase of the project (approximately 1980-1990). Our intention is to have all Folger holdings in the ESTC either added or updated by Folger catalogers.

Cataloging and Preserving the Shakespeare Collection (NEH)

Eighteenth-century Folger holdings are included in the ESTC, having earlier been added by ESTC North American staff working from Folger reports. In the interests of focusing grant-funded time and labor on item-in-hand descriptive recataloging, confirmation and augmentation of the ESTC was quickly dropped from the NEH ShCol grant project as something that could be done later by Folger staff. These procedures outline that process.

Search Hamnet

  • The pool of applicable records can be obtained by doing a builder search in the cataloging module:
cms? in Holdings Record NOT estc in Holdings Record
  • Do this exact search (initial number retrieved 826)
  • Read the notes in the bibliographic record
    • If the ESTC is mentioned in any note aside from the 510 "Cited in" field, add the Voyager record id to the table below and move to the next record
    • If it seems straightforward, copy the ESTC number from the bibliographic record and switch to the ESTC


  • Open the ESTC XML interface
    • The Senior Cataloger for English materials can supply the link
    • It is confidential; do not give out the link location to anyone for any reason
  • Paste the copied ESTC number into the ESTC IDs search box
  • Find the Folger holding(s), which will be prefaced by nDFo (the libraries are alphabetized by MARC Organizational code within these categories):
    • British libraries (prefix 'b')
    • European libraries (prefix 'e')
    • North American libraries (preface 'n')
    • Other regions (prefix 'o')
  • Select the Folger holding and examine the information carefully
    • Is the call number correct? Is there a space after the hyphen in an accession call number? Does it have "Sh.Col." or "Cage" at the end? Are the elements in the proper order and formatted correctly? If not, please correct.
    • Are the copy-specific notes 852 ǂz from the Hamnet holdings record in the ESTC holdings record? If not, please copy-and-paste from Hamnet. Notes having to do with the completeness, readability, or other physical aspects of the book go into box 7a. Everything else goes into 7b.
    • Save the holdings record by selecting the Update button. Close the window
    • Does each Folger copy attached to the bibliographic record have a corresponding holding in the ESTC? If not, please add new holdings as needed by selecting the Add holding button at the top of the window.

Back to Hamnet

Needs discussion

  • Open the holdings record for each copy that has been confirmed in the ESTC and update the 852 ǂx by appending the following information to the existing string:
estc [cataloger's initials] [yeardate]
  • Copy field 852 and replace the 852 in the bibliographic record ???

Reporting unrecorded editions to the ESTC