Ghost Busters: Eliminating non-existent STC numbers for Early English Books

This project is designed for participants in the University of Michigan School of Information's Alternative Spring Break program. Students will handle rare books dating to the 16th and early 17th century in order to update call numbers in the book and in the online catalog to the current standard, eliminating "ghost" call numbers. They will become familiar with rare book handling, the Voyager ILS cataloging module, the STC classification system, and the history of handpress era books. This project will have a significant impact on scholars' ability to use the Folger collection effectively.


In many cases, the Folger owns the only known copy of a rare book, therefore the book was unknown to the compilers of the first edition of A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640 (better known as the "STC"). This means the books did not have an "STC number" at the time of cataloging, so the cataloger devised a number that would put it in the correct sequence on the shelf. When the 2nd edition of the STC appeared, these books received official STC numbers that often did NOT correspond with the number devised by a Folger cataloger. For example, the book with call number "STC 22459.2" on the shelf has the STC (2nd ed.) number "STC 22459a.5". Participants in this project will update online catalog records to reflect the change in numbering, and will update the physical call numbers written in the books. See "Hidden Notes, Bibliographic Nightmares, and STC Call Numbers" for a blog post on The Collation that touches on this issue.

Project Outcomes

At the end of the week, participants will have handled a significant number of rare books and associated catalog records, allowing us to accurately predict the amount of time it will take to change the call numbers for all STC books with call numbers that do not match STC 2nd edition numbers. More importantly for researchers, at the end of the project the online catalog and the books themselves will display the standard STC number for each title, eliminating a huge source of confusion.

Required Skills and Abilities

Must be able to handle fragile material safely, work at a computer for an extended period of time, follow technical instructions, and work with accuracy and meticulous attention to detail.


Asana is the project management tool we will be using for the execution of this project.