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Early modern Oxford bindings in twenty‐first century markup

Elizabeth McCarthy (Communications and Special Collections, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, UK)
Anne Welsh (Department of Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)
Sarah Wheale (Rare Books, Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 31 August 2012




The Bodleian Binders Book contains nearly 150 pages of seventeenth century library records, revealing information about the binders used by the library and the thousands of bindings they produced. The purpose of this paper is to explore a pilot project to survey and record bindings information contained in the Binders Book.


A sample size of seven pages (91 works, 65 identifiable bindings) to develop a methodology for surveying and recording bindings listed in the manuscript. To create a successful product that would be useful to bindings researchers, it addressed questions of bindings terminology and the role of the library in the knowledge creation process within the context that text encoding is changing the landscape of library functions. Text encoding formats were examined, and a basic TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) transcription was produced. This facilitates tagging of names and titles and the display of transcriptions with text images.


Encoding was found not only to make the manuscript content more accessible, but to allow for the construction of new knowledge: characteristic Oxford binding traits were revealed and bindings were matched to binders. Plans for added functionality were formed.


This research presents a “big picture” analysis of Oxford bindings as a result of text encoding and the foundation for qualitative and statistical analysis. It exemplifies the benefits of interdisciplinary methods – in this case from Digital Humanities – to enhance access to and interpretation of specialist materials and the library's provenance record.



McCarthy, E., Welsh, A. and Wheale, S. (2012), "Early modern Oxford bindings in twenty‐first century markup", Library Review, Vol. 61 No. 8/9, pp. 561-576.



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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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