Archives of the Printed Book
Bodleian Library (Oxford University): main site; MS images selection. Based on the collection of Duke Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, with additions from other early book collections and from being named a "legal deposit library" for newly printed books in the United Kingdom (corresponding to our Library of Congress).
British Library main site and "Treasures in Full" digitization project.
Charles Darwin's Library: The Biodiversity Heritage Library Web site has collected digital surrogates of all surviving books from Darwin's library and has indexed them for underlining and annotation. Francis Darwin, the biologist's son, donated the library to Cambridge University in 1908, making possible the intact preservation of the collection. Ordinarily, great scholars' libraries are sold at auction shortly after their deaths, the heirs needing to pay estate taxes and often valuing books (even rare books) less than they valued real estate, etc. See the "About" section for a useful discussion of the difference between this library, splendid as it is, and "Darwin's reading" in all books and journals. The latter would include texts that Darwin did not own and that have not passed into the Cambridge depository. This project is in its early phases but offers interesting research opportunities. Even after Phase 1, images of 313 books and their annotations are available, out of a total of 1480 titles, 743 of which contain Darwin's annotations.
The Goucher College Library: Formerly the Library of the Women's College of Baltimore, the main print collection contains over 300,000 volumes, and the periodical department manages print and electronic access to 1200 journals. The library's Special Collections unit contains the Bright Collection of Early Modern printed books and scholarship on English philology, the Burke Collection of Jane Austen editions, the Corrin Collection of political memorabilia, the Dowell Collection of theater playbills and memorabilia, the Mencken collection of manuscript correspondence. New acquisitions currently being catalogued include the Estelle Dennis Dance Collection, and the Chrystelle Bond Dance Collection, representing American modern dance and dance education through sheet music, costumes, dance notation, and other artifacts.
Library of Congress Digitized Materials from the Rare Books and Special Collections Division: The crown jewel of the LOC collections is the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection of manuscripts and rare books. Other collections of Americana are important to the study of colonial and early Republic history.
Archive Online Search Engines:
Archives are only as good as their search methodology and catalogs. Without an accurate method of detecting books existence, they might as well be invisible. In fact, in almost all libraries, at least some books are missing or miscataloged at any one time. Locating, describing, and properly cataloging this "MUF" (material unaccounted for) remains the elusive goal of bibliographic researchers and librarians. The catalog searching sites below are listed in descending order of robustness (number of books covered) and in descending order of exclusivity and accuracy with which they correctly identify all and only actual printed books when one searches them.
WorldCat: a product of OCLC and RLG's merger, the WorldCat catalogue can be searched from a free, publicly accessible interface, and from a membership-restricted portal accessible on Goucher's network through the Julia Rogers Library web site. In March 2007, when this web page was constructed, OCLC reports that the combined database represents the catalogs of 12,000 member libraries around the world.
National Library Organizations: Nancy Magnuson, the Director of the Julia Rogers Library, has compiled this list of web sites for the major librarians' organizations, like OCLC and RLG, which support the preservation and use of books.
The Julia Rogers Library catalog. (You will note that this link takes you directly to the "Advanced Search" screen, rather than the library's home page with its minimal "Keyword" search window activated.
The English Short Title Catalog: a specialized online catalog recording information on books printed in the U.K. between 1450 and 1800, covering about 460,000 individual volumes.
University of Karlsruhe Virtual Catalogue: a research tool directed at collections of early books and manuscripts, especially strong in collections located in Germany and the rest of Eastern and Western Europe.
OLD ENGLISH LIBRARIES: THE MAKING, COLLECTION, AND USE OF BOOKS DURING THE MIDDLE AGES: An online edition of Ernest A. Savage's important early study of Medieval bibliography in England. You can find another at Project Gutenberg. The Library's print copy is in the Main Collection at 027.042 S26.