As a dyed-in-the-wool Victorianist (and a material history and periodicals enthusiast at that), reading the materials for class today gave me a feeling akin to the heart crumpling sadness and then re-expansion with hope that I felt when I first saw that commercial for the ASPCA with the footage of sad little kitties behind bars followed by the footage of happy little kitties going home with good families. I am only exaggerating a little bit. I was at first very, very concerned about the books, and then very relieved that there is something we can all do to help.
In all seriousness, however, I think the Book Traces project is nothing short of an ingenious idea both in its conception–the idea that there are things we really don’t know about what people did with books in the nineteenth century, and we need to begin trying in earnest to figure these things out (and preserve the ability for others to try to figure them out in the future) before it is too late–and its method of execution –harnessing the public energy of crowd-sourcing to accomplish these goals.
I also love this project because it clearly illustrates not just the scholarly, but also the human relevance of historical study generally and Victorian studies particularly, a truth that at times even those of us who study such topics are capable of doubting. The long and short of it is, I really enjoyed these readings, and hope to discuss more about them in class!