Legacy person and other members of the household

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Legacy person and other members of the household

aug 21, 2013, 1:33 pm

As some of you might know, I'm working on an as yet unofficial Legacy Library for my late husband, Isaac Bonewits. I've been cataloging from the actual physical library since 2007.

Originally, I had set up his library separate from our library simply to give him an LT Author presence, back in the day when you needed a minimum number of books cataloged before you could get that designation (would that it were still true, but that's another issue). His account then consisted of books he wrote and books that mentioned him or cited his work. The majority of our common library was under my account.

Since he passed, I have been cataloging books that were clearly his and that I won't be keeping in his account (I'm trying deaccession something on the order of 2000-3000 books, many of which are still not cataloged). Anything that was clearly mine at the time we merged libraries in our common household (2003), I've been cataloging in my account.

But I keep wondering, if we had a common home and a combined library, do my books count as his books? Especially the ones that were in his areas of interest? I wonder this especially since we had so darn many books, I'm sure there were many of mine he had no idea were even in the house. Many of his I didn't know we had until I cataloged them and packed them up. It seems odd to me to catalog a book in "his" library if I have no evidence he even knew it was there. But if someone other than myself were cataloging it, they'd have no idea (except for the occasional ex libris marks) whose books were whose.

So, I guess what I'm asking is where do you draw the lines of ownership between the library of an individual and the library of a household? Or is there a line?

aug 21, 2013, 4:12 pm

That's a tricky question.

The reason Leonard & Virginia Woolf were catalogued as a joint project was that it's impossible to differentiate one's books from another. They're relationship was founded on their similiar interests so most books were read by both. Though some works can obviously be attributed to either Leonard or Virginia, like you mentioned, from their provenance marks or the marginilia, but that's not the case for everything. And then you have included Virginia's father's library which was read by Leonard. It was really only possible to catalogue the library as a whole.

With James Joyce's library, I sneaked in a book I know was not his, but in fact belonged to Nora. If you look at the copies of Ulysses, No.1000 of the first edition I included in his Paris library which was a gift from Joyce to his wife. Nora's biographers state that she didn't read many books only a small amount of novels from her husband's collection. So the book may have been kept in Joyce's study, but it wasn't his possession, so I'll be removing it soon on my next edit.

I guess for me, I'm working from what the sources state and what their biographers suggest. The libraries I've chosen to work on weren't widely documented themselves, but their owners were.

Reading back, this doesn't answer your question at all :(

aug 21, 2013, 4:30 pm

This question has come up on a number of LL's that I've worked on, particularly e.e. cummings (with wife Marion Morehouse), Robert Graves (with wife Beryl) and Elizabeth Barrett & Robert Browning (which also includes books inscribed by his sister and their son and daughter-in-law).

The problem is, just because a book might have been inscribed by one of the spouses, that doesn't mean that the other didn't read it. My wife and I share books all the time and even read aloud to each other. Such books are not mine or hers -- they're ours.

Even when a book in the shared collection was obtained after the death of one of the spouses, it's hard to be sure about excluding it. Case in point: for Robert Graves, he made a point of collecting for his personal library as many editions of his own work as he could. After he died, his wife continued the practice, obtaining new editions up to the time of her own death, several years later. It seemed to me that it was appropriate to include these in their personal library.

I think the solution is to be very clear in the "about my library" section of the profile page. Also, it might be a good idea to create separate "collections" to identify when it''s clear that a particular book belonged to one or another of the principals.

For example, for Robert Graves, I made separate collections for his "personal library", which was shared with his wife, and his "working library" which he built to support his research and writing.

Similarly, for the Brownings, I'm trying to identify in separate collections items inscribed by Elizabeth, Robert and the others. Even so, as I said, it's still hard to be sure that just because EBB inscribed a particular volume, that RB never touched it, used it or loved it.

aug 21, 2013, 7:12 pm

Thanks for the input.

As I'm the spouse and I was there, I have a bit better sense of what was "his." He might not have ever picked up book "x" of mine, but at the same time I know he bought books he never read. When you have a specialized topic, you do tend to accumulate non-fiction that either goes into the endless TBR pile or on the shelf for possible reference at the time of some unknown future need.

Plus people and their publishers give you books hoping that you'll blurb or review them, but often they get stuck on a shelf but never cracked open. I just found a decades-old review copy of a book, one fairly well known in his field, still sealed in plastic.

We did get rid of a lot of mass-market fiction and other odds and ends without cataloging it, just because we didn't want to move too much stuff across the country. At the time, I thought I was cataloging for our convenience (yes, we have that book and it's packed in box 37), not for posterity. Now I keep wishing I had a record of all that stuff, too!

So, despite my OCD tendencies and best efforts, it won't be a reflection of all the books he owned, it'll only reflect what was in the house (literally--the packed boxes were in the spare room) when he died. But I suppose that's true for most of the Legacy Libraries!

apr 21, 2014, 6:32 pm

I'm curious about this, as I've just noticed that a book first published in 1993 is included in the legacy library of Robert Graves (1895-1985) - surely some mistake.

The book is Pat Barker's The Eye in the Door - it might well have interested him if published in his lifetime, but it wasn't.

apr 21, 2014, 6:51 pm

> 5. surely some mistake

Not necessarily. As I explained in # 3, Robert shared his personal library with his wife Beryl. Books added after his death would be among her contributions to this collection. Should they be deleted from his library? I'd be interested in your advice.

apr 22, 2014, 3:44 pm

As long as it's clear in the library description what is included and what is not, I think it's ok. Just me though.

apr 22, 2014, 11:03 pm

"Robert (Graves) shared his personal llbrary with his wife Beryl, (and) books (were) added after his death . . ." (6)

No doubt. And, in browsing legacy libraries, Iʻve sometimes known chronological questions like that of #5 to come up; and my first thought has been
to wonder if there was a
continuation by the LT member who is
in charge of the legacy library.
(i.e. having put in an item that the legacy author WOULD HAVE probably included, if still living)
So, can there be a "chronologically impossible" item in the legacy library,
even without continuation by a family member?

Redigerat: apr 23, 2014, 8:44 am

> 8 That seems like a leap too far. Certainly if a book were added by a family member, and such is noted in the profile text, that's fine. Adding books we think the person might have owned were they alive today ... that I don't think is anything we should be doing.

Redigerat: apr 23, 2014, 12:38 pm

"Adding books we think the person might have owned . . . is (nothing) we should be doing." (9)

Thanks. Youʻre probably right; my idea (8) was based on a vague memory - - of scanning a collection, but not making an immediate check of the
applicable dates.

apr 26, 2014, 2:24 pm

I don't think books published 8 years after someone's death should be included. I can understand that it may not be clear which books are owned by other family members, but this one makes no sense.

apr 26, 2014, 2:50 pm

If there's a legit reason that they've been included, and such is noted at least in the Profile text and/or in the Comments for the book, it's fine. (See, for example, HarryTruman, which includes several books added to the library after Truman's death by his widow; this is noted in the Profile text).

Sometimes, given the extant inventories of these libraries, it's impossible to completely untangle when books came into the collection or to whom they originally belonged. In these cases, all we can do is note the available evidence and provide what documentation we have.

apr 27, 2014, 1:06 am

>11 elkiedee:. I don't think books published 8 years after someone's death should be included. I can understand that it may not be clear which books are owned by other family members, but this one makes no sense.

I take your point, certainly, and it wouldn't be too difficult to prune out titles published after Robert Graves' death, but there remains something of a question about this sort of thing. In this instance, for example, Pat Barker's Regeneration, published 1992, is also in the library with this inscription: "Dedication: To Beryl, for the Collection, Love, Susie, March 1993". This would seem to indicate that there was some effort on the part of Graves' widow and her friends to continue adding significant works on WWI to similar material that Robert had already gathered. The other volume in the Regeneration trilogy, The Ghost Road, is also included. All three are part of what is called "Robert Graves Personal Library", maintained by the Robert Graves Trust and held at La Casa de Robert Graves (Canellun), Deià, Mallorca, Spain.

It's confusing, I know, but to remove these volumes would result in the LT legacy library not matching this collection.

Redigerat: apr 27, 2014, 8:50 am

to: JBD1, elkiedee, jburlinson et al.

Does anyone have an idea why I am getting a "No Books Cataloged..." message concerning the last 4 legacy libraries that I have tried to search? This includes the Yeats Library which, in the past, I have definitely found to be cataloged.
Does finding the cataloged items depend on where the search was started from? I think the last one where
I did find cataloged items
was Jackie Gleasonʻs Llibrary!

apr 27, 2014, 9:07 am

>14 rolandperkins: - Check to see that you're searching "All collections" or "Your library" and not some other collection that doesn't have books in it. They all seem to be searching okay for me (but, just out of curiosity, where are are you searching from?)

apr 27, 2014, 3:27 pm

Thanks for your prompt reply, JBD1 (14>15).

Themost recent I searched from was WB Yeatsʻs author page. There were 3 options (in blue) on Legacy Libraries, right hand side of the screen, and I clicked on the 3rd "....Catalog"; I got the "No books..." message.

apr 27, 2014, 5:26 pm

>16 rolandperkins: - Hmm, that link (via http://www.librarything.com/author/yeatswilliambutler) is working for me ... others?

apr 27, 2014, 6:28 pm

>16 rolandperkins: >17 JBD1: -- Same here -- the link brings up http://www.librarything.com/catalog/WilliamButlerYeats/yourlibrary
which has over 2,200 items listed.

apr 30, 2014, 12:22 pm

Whenever I see the "No books…" message, I immediately look to the upper left corner to see whether "All collections" is visible. Usually I find that the selection is "Wishlist" or some other sub-category. Catalog searches retain this information between searches. It often leads to fruitless searches until you remember to change it. (I wonder how many users have never figured that out. It has often bothered me, but never enough to mention until now.)

aug 15, 2022, 7:57 pm

I am looking for a path to Jackie Gleason's library as mentioned in his wikipedia page about his interest in the paranormal. It says a complete list of the holdings of his library are listed on LibraryThing.

jul 5, 1:40 pm

A radical US couple, Helen and Scott Nearing, evidently had an extensive home library that remained at their hand-built home in Harborside, Maine. Here is some data on that: