ISBN shenanigan

December 9, 2016 at 11:18 am 1 comment

onbeyondzebraAs Curator of Colorado College Special Collections, I recently ordered a copy of Woody Leslie’s book Understanding Molecular Typography. There appeared to be a snag in the cataloging, and the following email conversation ensued:

Cataloger Amy: Hello, Jon (and Jessy),  If this link is behaving as it was for me just now, then you will see the image, with a link, to a Dr. Seuss book to the right of the title I just cataloged, “Understanding Molecular Typography.” Hmmmmmmm……..  :-/

Systems Specialist Jon: That bib record contains the ISBN for the Dr. Seuss title so it’s pulling the Dr. Seuss book cover image… Correcting or removing that ISBN should fix the problem. I also noticed that a subject heading of Humor is shown on that bib-is that correct?

Amy: I figured it had to do with the ISBN. The ISBN in the record is indeed the ISBN on the title page, so, I’m not sure how one might handle that. About humor, yes, that is correct, despite the rawther serious-sounding title.

Jon: Interesting-so it’s a humor book and they put the ISBN for a Dr. Seuss book on the title page? That’s kinda funny. WorldCat seems to have the same problem: http://www.worldcat.org/title/understanding-molecular-typography/oclc/920580763 –as do the catalogs of all of the other libraries WorldCat shows as holding this title… This is now actually hilarious.

Curator Jessy: Wow. This is fantastic actually! I wonder if they did it on purpose. Maybe I’ll try to contact the author or publisher and see.

Amy: I’d love to know what he says. It’s kind of like a library shenanigan. I mean, why “On Beyond Zebra”?? This is a first, for me.

Jessy: Dear Woody Leslie, As you can see from the email chain, your book is causing some confusion and hilarity at the Colorado College library. We think you did it on purpose. Are we right?

Artist Woody Leslie: Hi Jessy, This really made my day! Thanks for contacting me. Yes, I intentionally appropriated that ISBN number. Understanding Molecular Typography is a fictional textbook by a fictional author about a fictional science — the science of molecular typography, which is based on the premise that all letters are in fact molecules, composed of atomic shape units known as typtoms. One of the ideas of the book is the concept of genetically modified, or invented letters. I used that ISBN number as a tribute to Dr. Seuss’ book On Beyond Zebra, because it’s all about invented letters. I didn’t account for library cataloging of ISBNs when I used it, figuring it would mostly be ignored. I too have noticed the World Cat auto picture selecting based on the ISBN. Glad you were able to sort it all out. There’s more about the book and project here.

Entry filed under: academic libraries, art, Tutt Library Colorado College.

archival shenanigans zeppelin reading room

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Suzie DeGrasse  |  December 9, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Wow! This is fantastic! The story just got better and better! I love Library Shenanigans.

    Reply

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