Monday, March 23, 2009

expensive but useful friends

I've expressed my feelings about my university's library resources on previous occasions, but this bears repeating: I love my university library with a deep and abiding passion. Granted, I'm still a little bitter about the changes they've made to the periodicals database user interface, but the library is still one of my favorite things ever. Critical editions and other academic works can be really expensive, so having access to the library allows me to do research that I could never afford to do on my own, simply because I couldn't afford the research materials.

At some point while I was working on my thesis and my coffee table was covered with stacks of library books, I wondered just how much money I actually had sitting there in my living room. So one night when I was up late and couldn't sleep but was too tired to make sense of my thesis any more, I decided to find out. Here's what I have:
  • number of books currently checked out: 43, or 86% of my limit as a grad student
  • total number of pages, not including prefaces, tables of contents, indices, bibliographies, or other front or back matter: 12, 835
  • total value: $3,670.61*
  • shortest book: Eighteenth-Century Sensibility and the Novel, by Ann Jessie Van Sant, 125 pages
  • longest book: Romanticism: An Oxford Guide, ed. Nicholas Roe, 717 pages
  • oldest: Rosamond, by Maria Edgeworth, 1856 edition
  • newest: (tie) Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750-1850, by Devoney Looser, and The Cambridge Companion to Fiction in the Romantic Period, eds. Richard Maxwell and Katie Trumpener, 2008
  • most expensive: Byron's Poetical Works, Volume 1, published in 1980 by Oxford UP: $290.00
  • least expensive: Coleridge's Biographia Literaria, Volume 1, published in 1907 by Oxford UP: $9.98

* This is an approximate value based on what it would cost to replace each of the books with the exact same edition. When possible, I based the replacement cost on a new or like-new edition; otherwise I used the lowest price listed for the highest-quality used copy available. Two of the books I have were not available at all, either new or used, on Amazon, ABE, or Labyrinth, so I was unable to determine a replacement price for them. Surprisingly, most of the older books are still available; the ones that I couldn't find for sale are Marilyn Butler's 1972 literary biography of Maria Edgeworth, and Chris Jones' Radical Sensibility: Literature and Ideas in the 1790s, published in 1993.

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