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Kevin Mac Donnell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 31 Dec 2010 10:57:59 -0600
text/plain (198 lines)
The book for which I found 34 records was not WHO WAS SARAH FINDLAY?  In the 
example I gave I was tracking down copies of another Twain book, and I gave 
this as an example of the unreliability of placing too much trust in OCLC 
(Worldcat) records for rare books. OCLC is fairly relaible for non rare 

Early in my career I was a rare book librarian with "full mode" cataloging 
authority to add records to OCLC, back in the early 1970s when that system 
was new. I spent two hours a day adding original records to OCLC and 
constantly found mistakes in other records. The best howler I can remember 
was an 1849 Hearst edition of THE SCARLET LETTER. That book was published in 
1850 and Hearst (William Randoph Hearst) was not publishing books in 1849 
anyway. Some damn fool had catalogued a Hearst reprint, ca. 1900, and used 
the date of the preface as the date of publication. That record was long ago 
deleted, but many others remain. These days the most common errrors are 
first edition records used to catalogue a reprint, records for limited 
editions used to catalogue trade editions, records for prospectuses used to 
catalogue copies of the book itself, microfilm copies catalogued as books, 
bound photocopies or PODs catalogued as original editions, facsimile 
editions catalogued as original editions, etc.

Mac Donnell Rare Books
9307 Glenlake Drive
Austin TX 78730
Member: ABAA, ILAB
You may browse our books at

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Céline-Albin Faivre" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, December 31, 2010 7:53 AM
Subject: Re: Mysterious text

> Yale? You mean The Beinecke Library???
> I was sure they had one.
> Le 31/12/2010 00:39, Kevin Mac Donnell a écrit :
>> A few words of caution about WolrdCat (OCLC).
>> I recently tried to locate a Twain book via OCLC and found 34 libraries
>> listed as having copies. After contacting about 20 of those libraries, 
>> only
>> three actually had the book in question. Some had reprints miscatalogued 
>> as
>> originals, and others simply had no copy at all and had no idea how they
>> ever got listed as having a copy. The libraries erroneously listed as 
>> having
>> copies of the book in question included Yale, Northwestern, Cornell, 
>> Duke,
>> etc. --not exactly libraries known for sloppy cataloging.
>> Another problem you will likely encounter with this particular book is 
>> that
>> virtually every copy listed in OCLC will be in a rare book or special
>> collections department (non-circulating) and not available through
>> interlibrary loan. This book sells for several thousand dollars and has 
>> very
>> seldom appeared for sale (one defective copy sold at auction in the last 
>> 35
>> years; I've only sold one copy myself since 1968).
>> The third problem is that due to the fragile nature of this particular 
>> item,
>> I doubt many libraries would be willing to photocopy it. BTW, I've sent 
>> Ms
>> Faivre photocopies of my proof copy --which is unbound and printed on a
>> different kind of paper than the finished pamphlet, and for that reason 
>> easy
>> to photocopy. I could not photocopy or scan my other copy without causing
>> serious damage.
>> Kevin
>> @
>> Mac Donnell Rare Books
>> 9307 Glenlake Drive
>> Austin TX 78730
>> 512-345-4139
>> Member: ABAA, ILAB
>> *************************
>> You may browse our books at
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Michael MacBride"<[log in to unmask]>
>> To:<[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Thursday, December 30, 2010 11:36 AM
>> Subject: Re: Mysterious text
>>> If you access to World Cat and your library has a decent Interlibrary 
>>> Loan
>>> department, you should be able to snag a copy from the following
>>> libraries:
>>> Location                 Library
>>> Library code
>>> United Kingdom       BRITISH LIBR                                  UKM
>>> US,CT                YALE UNIV LIBR                                YUS
>>> US,IL                NORTHWESTERN UNIV                             INU
>>> US,IN                INDIANA UNIV                                  IUL
>>> US,MA                BRANDEIS UNIV LIBR                            MBB
>>> US,MA                HARVARD UNIV, HOUGHTON LIBR                   HHG
>>> US,MI                CLARKE HIST LIBR                              EHL
>>> US,OH                UNIV OF CINCINNATI                            CIN
>>> US,VA                UNIV OF VIRGINIA                              VA@
>>> United Kingdom       NATIONAL LIBR OF SCOTLAND                     NLE
>>> OCLC: 8252860
>>> Michael MacBride
>>> Minnesota State University, Mankato
>>> Humanities/English Department(s)
>>> 2010/12/30 C=E9line-Albin Faivre<[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Many thanks for replying.
>>>>   I've been searching for a copy of this book for years!!!!!
>>>> I never could buy a copy.
>>>> (I am a French translator of works by J. M. Barrie, owner of the French
>>>> website, and currently writing a biography 
>>>> of
>>>> J.M.B.)
>>>> If you could photocopy the text for me, then I would be more than
>>>> grateful! Of course, I will give refund you for the cost of photocopies
>>>> and postage with an extra.
>>>> I've already tried Google Books... As far as I know, there is no
>>>> reproduction of this piece in any book.
>>>> I will send you my mailing address offline.
>>>> You can't imagine how important it is for me.
>>>> Kind regards,
>>>> C=E9line
>>>> Le 30/12/2010 00:24, Kevin Mac Donnell a =E9crit :
>>>>> I have a copy and I also have a set of proof sheets that lacks only 
>>>>> the
>>>>> preface leaf. I can photocopy the loosely folded proofs more easily
>>>>> tha=
>>> n
>>>> the
>>>>> bound copy, and copying them and mailing it to you would be easier (on
>>>>> =
>>> me
>>>>> and the booklet itself) than scanning them.
>>>>> Please try google books first, but I'm happy to help if you strike out
>>>>> there. Perhaps somebody knows if this piece has ever been reprinted in
>>>> book
>>>>> form or collected into a later collection of his works. If you fail to
>>>> find
>>>>> a reprint or a copy online, just send me your mailing address offline.
>>>>> Kevin
>>>>> @
>>>>> Mac Donnell Rare Books
>>>>> 9307 Glenlake Drive
>>>>> Austin TX 78730
>>>>> 512-345-4139
>>>>> Member: ABAA, ILAB
>>>>> *************************
>>>>> You may browse our books at
>>>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>>>> From: "C=E9line-Albin Faivre"<[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> To:<[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 11:37 AM
>>>>> Subject: Mysterious text
>>>>>> Good evening,
>>>>>> I wondered if someone among the specialists of this forum could tell
>>>>>> m=
>>> e
>>>>>> where I can read this very rare text:
>>>>>> /Who Was Sarah Findlay? By Mark Twain With a Suggested Solution of 
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> Mystery by J. M. Barrie/. London: Privately Printed by Clement
>>>>>> Shorter=
>>> ,
>>>>>> April 1917.
>>>>>> I know there are only 25 copies all around the world.
>>>>>> Many thanks in advance for your help.
>>>>>> C=E9line-Albin Faivre