Aeroplanes & Flying Machines

“If you have time to spare, travel by air….”

I always thought this saying was more relevant for general aviation pilots, or from the days that people traveled by blimp, but after trying to leave Chicago since Monday and not getting to New Haven until late Wednesday night, I realized this saying still holds true.  (The delays were partially my fault and then mostly the weather’s fault).

I’ve decided to carry my accidental theme of aviation, airports, and travel by air to the library.

In my efforts to become the William A. Borden Classification Expert – I began my  search with the subject “airplanes.”  Turns out there is not a subject card for “airplanes,” so I looked for an “aviation” subject card:

Okay, so there is a subject card for airplanes – just with the British spelling “aeroplanes.”  I would have never thought to look up that spelling.  And there is a subject card for Flying Machines?!  The library has two – TWO – books on “aeroplanes” – both published in the mid 1940s.

I checked to see what books the library classified under “Flying Machines” but card is not there – I assume it was removed when books on “Flying Machines” were de-accessioned.  I found some interesting book titles in the card catalog, classified under “aeronautics” but when I went to get the books – they were not on the shelves….it seems as if my theme of disappointment with aviation really is carrying on to my time at the library….


Free Public Library System in India & William Borden

“There is no more ennobling thing than the reading of good books; it leads men, along flowery pathways, towards earnest and pure lives. I am doing what I can to educate my people to the stage where they can ready and appreciate great thoughts of the present and the past, and the result so far has been very gratifying.  But I would do more.  I would bring to the poor man or woman, the ordinary man of the bazaar, to the common people everywhere, this wealth of literature now only known to the educated.”

Maharaja Sayajirao III,  Baroda, April, 7, 1912

Maharaja Sayajirao III, Gaekwar of Baroda (1862 – 1939) was one of the most progressive princes of what is now modern India.  He traveled to western countries repeatedly and invited foreign specialists for the development of the State both materially and culturally.  The Maharaja introduced reforms that transformed Baroda economically, socially, and culturally.

Sayajirao chose the head librarian, William Borden, at The Institute Library to establish a free public library system in Baroda.  In 1910, Borden left New Haven for Baroda.  He created a comprehensive network of libraries, which was made up of  a state central library, four district libraries, forty-five town libraries, and more than a thousand village libraries.  The district libraries had extensive traveling systems with a Visual Instruction Branch to reach the most illiterate people.  This system reached 80% of the population within two years.

Above Image: William Borden with his Library Students in Baroda

“I determined to introduce into Baroda what we in the United States have recognized as a goal to be ultimately attained, but which we have not yet reached…What America could only dream of, Baroda could do, and in a measure has done.
-William Borden 1913

The classification system Borden created for these libraries was similar to the one he created (and we still use) at The Institute Library.  Borden left Baroda in 1913. And, unfortunately, after the death of the Maharaja Sayajirao, the library system did not continue.  Modern-day India uses the Dewey Decimal System.

The Card Catalog, part II

Many patrons ask me, “So, this unique classification system – is it easier to use than the Dewey Decimal System?”

I’m always hesitant to answer because it does take time to become accustomed to the system and I haven’t figured out a shortened/summarized version yet.  In all honesty, I’m still learning the ins and outs of Borden’s classification system.  I don’t want to overwhelm anyone…

The books are shelved by class and sub-class and from there by order of acquisition.  This means that books by the same author may or may not be next to each other on the shelf, nor are the books put in alphabetical order by author.

Also, if the acquisition number is 1145, does not mean that it the 1145th book on the shelf in that subclass….Take a look at J6 (which is Fine Arts – Painting & Decoration) – the acquisition numbers are in chronological order, but there are numbers missing.  This is because when a books is deaccessioned (taken out of circulation) – its acquisition number is retired forever.  For a library that has been around since 1826, there are thousands of books that have been taken from the shelves to make way for other (not necessarily new) books.

So where do these deaccessioned books disappear to?  Mostly – to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books (located on the 3rd and 4th floors of the library).

This is the 4th floor cemetery – thousands of books fill the plastic bags.  Over the past year or so, the library’s Book Committee has been busy going through all of these forgotten books.  They have a specific criteria for which ones will be kept, the ones to be sold at the next book sale, and the ones to be recycled.

This photo is of already sorted books in the Children’s reading room – located on the 3rd floor and currently not open to the general public.  More on the great work of the Book Committee later…

The books that will be kept will be put back into circulation.  HOPEFULLY – all of these books will still have their book plates, indicating their classification and acquisition codes.  Unfortunately, there has been some misunderstanding of the classification system since the 1930s (example: Far Eastern Asian History is currently classified as European History due to WWII).  This will undoubtedly create some more confusion.

I will explain the growth intentions of library classification systems and what happened to the Institute Library’s classification system after William Borden left the library in Part III.

The Story of the Nations

One of the perks of showing up to work early is I am free to lazily read random finds from the stacks.  This morning, Vickie had a surprise waiting for me on my desk.She saw the title while processing new books to add to the library’s collection – accessioned in 1893.  She went to the shelf to see if was still there….sure enough, it was.

The Story of the Nations: Australiasia – It’s the story of the British colonies, published in 1893.  G. Mitchell was the last person to check the book out – in October 1897.  I love Mr. Borden’s beautiful calligraphy…

Since I arrived at the library before my shift starts – I had time to thumb through the book (my original intention was to work on a translating project, but per usual, I was distracted). So, I learned a bit about “Australasia” The photos below are some of my favorites from the book.


The Card Catalog, part I

The mysterious classification system of the Institute Library – created by William A. Borden in the late 1800s.  It’s nothing like the Dewey Decimal system or the Library of Congress system.  This classification system used exclusively by the Institute Library.

The above image is of Mr. Borden’s manuscripts describing his classification system (written 1903)

The simplified version of the library’s classification system – not in beautiful calligraphy:

Non-fiction is assigned a class and a sub-class.  Each class is assigned a letter of the alphabet and each subclass is assigned a number.  For example, the letter E is assigned to the class “Arts & Trades”.  The number that follows indicates the type (or sub-class).  In this instance, the number 2 indicates “Extractive Arts.” And then there is an additional numerical field.  We are currently calling this the acquisition number for example,  E21 is Arts & Trades – Extractive Arts – General Works

The above card: J = Amusements, the top number indicates the subclass, and the bottom indicates the acquisition number for this class.

To be continued…..

Yale Day of Service

HUGE thanks to all the volunteers who came for the Yale Day of Service on Saturday, May 12th.  They got SO much accomplished for the library.

Photos to come.

Book Cart!!!

It may seem like a slow day to be posting about the library’s new book cart – but it is so helpful, it deserves a post.  Until getting the book cart, our to be processed and to be shelved books were in mountainous piles behind the circulation counter – not great for book spins and these mountains took up too much space.

Santiago and Will assembling the new book cart

Santiago – one of the high school students who spends afternoons at the library – offered to help Will with the assembly (by “assembly” I mean, shoving the wheels into the legs – which took more effort that one might think).

I love the new book cart – Vicky, Becky, and Will do too.  I immediately shelved our newly acquired books on the cart, and Will and I got to work on cataloging them in a more organized fashion.

The book cart hard at work