Nov 7, 2022Liked by Adam Smyth

Not that it really matters, but your guess that the cancelled stamp "presumably refers to the cancellation of this system of date stamping" didn't ring true to me -- in many libraries such a stamp would either represent the return of the loan, or that the book itself had been withdrawn from stock -- so I took advantage of my On Her Majesty's Bibliographic Service access-all-areas warrant card, and asked the Faculty Library what it had been used for.

As you might expect, no-one currently employed could quite remember, but investigation revealed that a slightly oversized "cancelled" stamp had indeed been used to cancel every returned loan, until someone had the innovative idea of simply striking out the date stamp with a pen...


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Gosh, a Yorkshire train ticket brings back a few memories, including the absolute worst jam donut I ever ate.

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Nov 4, 2022Liked by Adam Smyth

At my Cambridge college in the 1990s, you signed out books by writing your name and the book in subject-specific ledgers. If you were after a book that wasn't on the shelf, you could see who had checked it out and encourage them to hurry up and finish it. You could also see what books the fellows had borrowed - I remember a volume of Oliver Cromwell's letters and speeches that had been checked out since 1990, and was clearly linked to research for an article about Cromwell he'd published a year later, but then never returned... Your post has made me wonder whether the college kept all the old ledgers. They would be quite a unique source for writing the history of the college, or of a particular term, or the curriculum of a particular subject, or the biography of a particular student or fellow. Particularly laid against other college ephemera like invitations and posters on JCR bulletin boards - were the clutch of overdue books at the start of that week linked to the boat club dinner on the Saturday, and so on!

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