JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
This Found-Design on the cover of the Catalogue of the Library of the South Carolina College--a pamphlet printed in Colunbia in 1836--presents us with a scratchy biblio-lovliness, and a little bit of smokey mystery. Why did someone scrawl "Books" eight times on the cover of this work, I wonder. (88 certainly was a number greater than all of the books in libraries or anywhere else in North America at the time, though I am sure that this calcualtion has nothing to do at all with the scirbble.) I just don't know--the annotations are just so inscrutable. Books books books books times two, writ on the cover of the skinny library catalog of the school founded in 1801 that would become the Universtiy of South Carolina.here.
There are 108 pages of entries for books, making roughly 5,000 titles. Books classified as "history" take pages 1-59, "philosophy" 61-96, and "poetry" 99-109. Given that this is supposed to be a history of science blog connected to my phys/maths bookshop, I looked for "math" and found it among other contenders in the second division, "philosophy". It is categorized such along with the book entries for ethics, metaphysics, general theology, philology, criticism, rhetoric, orations, epistles, government, politics and medicine. Math here is "Math, Pure and Mixed" and "Math Mixed, Tactics", and occupies the largest section of the philosophy section--unless of course you add together al o fthe variations of "theology", and then the maths come in second.
Just for the record, according to the American Almanac, the South Carolina College library holdings are right at the average of 57 American colleges libraries on which they reported. They indicate 10,000 volumes for South Carolina, one of the 57 colleges totalling 580,000 volumes, or about a 10k average per library. (Just for the record, Harvard had about the biggest collection at 50k, followed by the Boston Athanaeum at 30k and Yale at 25.5; there was also Georgetown (12k), Library of Congress (24k), University of Georgia (7.5k), University of Kentucky (4.4k), Bowdoin (12k), LSU (10k), Dartmouth (14.5k), Princeton (7.5k), Cooper Union (14k), UNC (4.8k), Dickinson (8.5k), Brown (11k), and the University of Virginia (10k) to name a few.)
[Source: Public libraries in the United States of America; their history, condition, and management. Special report, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education. Part I, (1876), Chapter XXXVII. Library reports and statistics, pp. 745-836, this section pages 760-772; with thanks to TLBKlaus for finding this reference.]
The book categorizations make for an interesting read.