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.

See List of call number changes for these and other updated numbers.


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.


Retrieving Books

  1. Go to the vault
  2. Pull each book; check to see if there is a photostat next to it; if so, pull photostat as well
  3. Leave slip on shelf for the book
  4. Once you have a truck full of books, bring them upstairs

Editing the Voyager Record

  1. Search Voyager Cat module by "Shelfmark or call number"
  2. Open the Bib record and the associated Holdings record (Use Window > Tile to show them side-by-side)
  3. In the holdings record, change 852 1st indicator to "8" if necessary
  4. Copy the STC (2nd ed.) number from the 510$c of the Bib record
  5. Paste it into a new 852$h in the Holding record (the "MFHD") and add the copy number, if necessary
  6. Change $h to $d for old call number, keeping the copy number, if present
  7. If present, move the 876$z into the 852
  8. Find the 852 in the bib record (if there are multiple copies, make sure you get the right one)
  9. Copy and paste the contents of the MFHD 852 into the Bib 852 (leaving $a DFo alone, if present)
  10. Change the first indicator to "8" if needed
  11. Delete the 876 from the Bib record
  12. Measure the binding height: round up to nearest cm
    1. Add height to the 300$c: round up to the nearest centimeter, put a space between the number and the "cm" symbol
    2. Put format in parentheses and (if necessary) change abbreviation

e.g. OLD: $c 12⁰.
e.g. NEW: $c 13 cm (12mo) Common format abbreviations:

  • 4to
  • 8vo
  • 12mo
  • 32mo
  1. Add a 583 to the Bib record, for statistical purposes; change number of pieces from "1" to however many flags you need to make, if more than one; update the month when needed.

‡a upgraded ‡c 2016-06 ‡k EJE ‡n 1 ‡o piece ‡x Ghost Busters project ‡2 local ‡5 DFo

Physical Processing

  1. Copy and paste new call number into the flag template Word document
  2. Double-check that you have the right book
  3. Open the book to the back and find the old call number
  4. Using a dull-ish no. 1 pencil (to avoid poking a hole in the paper) draw a line through the old call number
  5. Write the new call number in the upper outer corner of the back of the book (check with Erin or Deborah if there isn't an obvious good spot to write it)
  6. On the old flag, cross out the old number and write in the new one

Checking changes

Once changes have been made, another team member should check the changes made using the following procedures:

  1. In the Cataloging module of Voyager, search with limits set to "Location: STC Vault" and search "STC (new number)"
  2. Check the measurements of the book against the 300$c in the record. Measurements always round up, are in centimeters, and should be measured in millimeters if the book is shorter than 10 centimeters
  3. Check that the 510$4 matches the new STC number and 852$h and says "(2nd ed.)"
  4. Make sure that the 852$d contains the former call number
  5. The 852$h should have the new call number
  6. Be sure that the 876 has been deleted and the information exists in 852$z
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 in the holdings record as well
  8. Check the back of the book for the changed call number and make sure it is correct. If there is an exhibition slip, correct the call number on that as well
  9. Put new flag in book

Do a final check and generate a list of changes as follows:

  1. Export all holdings updated since the previous Ghost Busters run
  2. Use MarcEdit to export 001, 852$d, and 852$h as tab-delimited
  3. Open the tab-delimited file in Excel
  4. Filter the 852$h column for cells that do not contain "STC" and delete those rows
  5. Re-filter the 852$h for cells that contain a semicolon (or whatever in-subfield delimiter was chosen in MarcEdit) to identify records with a duplicate $h; make corrections in Voyager as needed to remove duplicates (usually it's because the original $h wasn't changed to a $d)
  6. Sort by 852$h and look for blanks in the 852$d column (don't filter for blanks: it's helpful to see what's on either side of them); make corrections in Voyager if needed (delete the row if the record just happens to be an STC holding that was updated outside the project).