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Legacy Libraries

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Jun 21, 2013, 6:33am Top

Voltaire's library was bought and preserved by Catherine the Great. There's a website devoted to it: http://voltaire.nlr.ru/fr/page1.htm . It shows pictures of a 1960s book published about the contents; it might have more, but my French is nonexistent. (I'm still trying to figure out what the Desk Corpse of Martingale Notes listed on the front page is. (-: )

Jun 21, 2013, 7:51am Top

Desk Corpse of Martingale Notes


(Actually, I think it's about marginal notes.)

Edited: Jun 21, 2013, 1:14pm Top

Desk Corpse?

Corpus = body. So "Body of marginal notes".

ETA: translating is one thing, interpreting what they actually mean by that is quite something else.

Jun 21, 2013, 1:12pm Top

I love "Desk Corpse of Martingale Notes."

Voltaire would be great. A fair number of us know French—mine is rusty, but good enough for bibliography. And I'm sure he had books in other languages.

Jun 21, 2013, 1:18pm Top

Here's WorldCat


I could xerox it from Harvard Divinity or Brandeis some day. Divinity would be easier. As I recall, they can't exclude non-Harvard students from that library. (Getting into the rest of Harvard requires, well, my mother…)

Edited: Jun 21, 2013, 1:29pm Top

Yes, my French is rusty too. Meaning I wouldn't dare writing it, but I can still read it. Anyway: I would totally be aboard if we should tackle this one.

> 6: Hey, at least you have some access.

Jun 21, 2013, 4:40pm Top

I have tried to find a copy at my favourite Russian online bookstore, but to no avail. Still, I can offer my rusty Russian if required.

Jun 22, 2013, 12:44am Top

Anyone live close to a WorldCat library that has it?

Edited: Jun 22, 2013, 2:45am Top

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek seems to have the Russian version.

ETA: I couldn't read it to save my life.

Jun 22, 2013, 9:12am Top

Tim could run a query listing people that:
- own at least N books in Russian
- own at least M books by Voltaire
- (maybe are a member of the Legacy Library group?)
These are the potential processors of the list if a digital version fails to emerge. (Yes, it is surely against some policy to contact them directly. But you could throw bait at them if you know the groups they frequent.)

Jun 22, 2013, 9:17am Top

The book is more than 1,100 pages long, so photocopying really doesn't seem like a good strategy :-)

There's a copy for sale: http://www.livre-rare-book.com/book/5472775/5247

I contacted the National Library of Russia several years ago about this collection, hoping there might be an online catalog. I didn't get a response, but will try again. If they have something we can use, that'll at least be a good start on it.

Jun 22, 2013, 3:45pm Top

There seems to be a copy in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book collection here.

Probably not circulating, so it would involve spending some quality time chained to a desk... but for Voltaire I'd do it.

Jun 22, 2013, 5:05pm Top

>9 timspalding:

BYU has a circulating copy.

Jun 22, 2013, 11:37pm Top

If it's 1,100 pages long, it might be pretty horrid to enter. Did anyone catch a volume count on V's library?

Jun 23, 2013, 1:28am Top

6,801 volumes, according to the Hermitage: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/05/hm5_9_0_16.html

Edited: Jun 23, 2013, 4:46am Top

This site might have some alternative and more accessible data:


Ulla Kölving & Andrew Brown, Voltaire, ses livres & ses lectures. Catalogue électronique de sa bibliothèque et relevé de ses autres lectures. Base de données intérrogeable sur cédérom pour Mac et Windows. ISBN 978-2-84559-049-6. Disponible en deux versions, pour particuliers 30 euros, pour bibliothèques et autres institutions, 100 euros

ETA: if you click through to the web shop, it says: "Momentanément indisponible. Prévenez moi!". But someone could contact these people anyway.

Jun 23, 2013, 6:21am Top

Online (scanned) version!



1076 pages, the person who scanned apparently wasn't very interested in the russian foreword.

Pages 10-860 contain bibliographic entries 1-3867, all in latin characters, ordered by author.

Jun 23, 2013, 8:17am Top

Nice. I've downloaded it. Acrobat is playing up on me at the moment, but that's probably just a glitch.

Jun 23, 2013, 1:09pm Top

Thank you very much, Pim.

I'd be interested in helping with this. As it appears others are as well, I suppose we should divide the lot.


Jun 23, 2013, 2:01pm Top

Did someone already create an account for Voltaire? Member search appears to think so, but it won't give me any links.

Please let us know, so we don't duplicate efforts.

Jun 24, 2013, 7:45am Top

>21 LolaWalser: I think we're clear to go ahead - there's a Voltaire account but it's old and not an LL. I've opened a new one (VoltaireLibrary) and will whip up a wiki this morning for it (will try some of the useful suggestions from the other thread, like varying the sizes of the sections people can claim, etc.). But let's use this thread for questions/comments/problems as we go.

Edited: Jun 24, 2013, 11:21am Top

Thanks a bunch, Jeremy! I'll wait for the wiki then to claim a section etc.

I think it would be important to agree on tags to use (if any), descriptions or comments. As this seems to be a well-annotated catalogue (compared to, say, Spinoza's list).


1. Should we enter the physical book descriptions, pages etc.? (I admit I'd rather not. Yes, out of pure laziness. But if necessary...)

2. What about the untranslated Russian notes (examples from random skim: "gift inscription by author", "the end is missing", "inserted in X" etc.)? They look interesting to me, but will everyone read Russian? And yet a uniform approach seems warranted, i.e. if one person includes these, everyone ought to include them.

3. Related to 2. and 1., if we DO enter physical descriptions, and the notes, we would pretty much be copying the text of the listing entirely. Is that okay?

Jun 24, 2013, 4:18pm Top

23 > I don't have a dog in this fight, so to speak, but as a user of LLs I would love to have that extra info. As far as the Russian notes, I would expect that something entered on the .com site would be in English, unless they were in another language as part of the original library itself. For example, if a book's inscription was recorded, I would expect that to be verbatim, in its original language.

Jun 24, 2013, 4:29pm Top


I'll do as I'm told, if I can get some consensus!

The notes, if included, would definitely be translated.

(On inscriptions, no, in the examples I've seen the actual text is not given, just a note made, as I wrote translated from Russian: "gift inscription from the author" etc.) The untranslated Russian notes seem to be annotations by the editors of the catalogue. For that matter, in the physical descriptions the abbreviations are in Russian, but as these are repetitive, people could probably just learn what's what.

Does anyone know of a good, reliable, non-buggy PDF to Word converter?

Jun 24, 2013, 4:35pm Top

25 > On the inscriptions, I was being general in the sense that if a record was made of the actual inscription, I would expect it to be in the original language. Just a note that it is inscribed is, of course, a separate situation and could be in any language.

Jun 24, 2013, 9:16pm Top

>24 PhaedraB:

Since adding the notes requires Russian reading skills, we can't require that people add the notes as they enter the bib records, because that would restrict the potential contributors to a needlessly small group. Perhaps we could have a larger group work on adding all of the records, then a smaller group with the necessary reading and translation skills could come after them and add the notes, if desired? (And, personally, I'd rather see the notes in the original Russian as well as in English translation, just so that any Russian speakers could read the original text if they desired.)

Jun 24, 2013, 9:32pm Top

Can someone convert the PDF into a Word document? It will be a major pain to enter all by hand switching between three keyboard setups (French, Russian, English).

I'd rather see the notes in the original Russian as well as in English translation, just so that any Russian speakers could read the original text if they desired.

The notes I'm talking about are very short notices such as I quoted above: "end is missing", some are errata, and some just phrases introducing quotations in French, for instance (bold in Russian originally): "inscription on the endpaper: A M. Voltaire a qui M. X fait ses compliments..."

I would keep the French text in French, but translate the strictly auxiliary Russian into English. I really see no point in repeating that same note twice. We can just have a note that all the text of that type in English is in Russian in the original.

Jun 24, 2013, 10:30pm Top

28 > "We can just have a note that all the text of that type in English is in Russian in the original."

That seems the most straight-forward solution. After all, the point is to catalog the library accurately, not to precisely reproduce catalog notes that someone else made. It is not the exact script but the sense of the notes that matters. And more people internationally could read English rather than Russian anyway, don't you think?

Jun 24, 2013, 11:08pm Top

>29 PhaedraB:.

"And more people internationally could read English rather than Russian anyway, don't you think?"

К сожалению! But now that I've looked through the document more, I agree that it's probably not important to keep the Russian text.

Jul 3, 2013, 9:03am Top

I've ordered the hardcopy from "livre-rare-book", so if there are pages that are unreadable, I should be able to get a clean copy.

>28 LolaWalser:: Lola, while this is possible to convert PDF's that are created from text files, it isn't going to work for PDF's that consist of scanned images like this one. Unless you go the OCR route, but that seems overkill to me.

Since the cyrillic comments seem to come from a small set of editorial comments, we can create a short list of the most common of them and provide these to the russian-agnostic people. As a matter of fact, page five of the PDF gives a french translation of these comments. Would that be sufficient for everyone, or is a separate English translation required?

Amazed by:
соавт. соавтор coauteur

Can we get a password and wiki URL?
Let's get this thing on the road!

Edited: Jul 4, 2013, 5:50pm Top

Sorry - lots going on with the redesign rollout and everything; I haven't gotten a wiki up yet. Login info is:

user: VoltaireLibrary
pw: candide

So if you want to start in, just note here what you're doing (before you start) and have at it. I'll try to get the wiki up asap, but there's still lots going on so I'm not sure when exactly that's going to happen, sorry.

I'm keen to talk about how to manage it, and see what folks feel like. There's a whole section of "tag-type" arrangement beginning on p. 970 of the PDF, but it would be quite a lot of work to cross-check each entry as we go ... would folks be interested in having some folks adding titles and including the entry number in the Comments and then having other folks work through adding comments and tags and things like that? I'm open to thoughts here - this is kind of a different beast than we've managed before.

Jul 3, 2013, 10:52am Top

I like the entry

Charlataneria Eruditorum (p1080/985)

I'd say enter the books first and worry about the tags later.

How are we going to deal with the vast amount of anonymously published pamphlets like

À nosseigneurs de Parlement en la Grand'chambre assemblée

The russian comment says: ascribed to Briqueville de la Luzerne.
The french wikipedia page of Briqueville de la Luzerne is unaware of this attribution.

Or how about: "An account of the execution of the late Laurence earl Ferrers..."

Jul 4, 2013, 5:49pm Top

>33 PimPhilipse: - They'll need to be added either without an author or with the attributed author as the author (but not, please, "Anonymous" as the author). Often with things like this an author is just omitted if unknown.

Jul 4, 2013, 5:58pm Top

Any additional workflow thoughts on this? I'm going to be working on the wiki tonight. My thought is to just make sure that the entry number gets included as the first thing in Comments so that we can then work on tags, etc. later on. Sound ok?

Jul 4, 2013, 6:32pm Top

Makes sense.

Jul 4, 2013, 6:37pm Top

Oops, that would be me. I'll stick with LC for a while yet, but considering the size of this library I suppose I'll still be able to join the fun later on.

Jul 5, 2013, 10:28am Top


it isn't going to work for PDF's that consist of scanned images like this one


Well, this one's gonna be a lulu.


Sounds ok. Just give us chunks we can claim. In hundreds maybe?

Jul 6, 2013, 8:40am Top

Okay, wiki's up, finally:


I've made very small chunks at the start so we can see how it goes, and in case folks want to just dip a toe in.

The key thing with these is to make sure that the entry number goes into the Comments field so that we can add the notes and tags and things later on.

Any questions, fire away!

Jul 6, 2013, 8:47am Top

jbd1 : are some of the rules you set for Voltaire applicable as general guidelines for LL entries? Is there a wiki page somewhere for that? Because I've already messed up with Roosevelt in that I was putting catalog entry numbers as tags, but I'm not so far in I can't go back and add them to the comments section.

Jul 6, 2013, 9:13am Top

There aren't really any hard-fast rules, since each library's somewhat (or very) different from the next. But yeah, the link in 41 will provide some general guidance.

Jul 6, 2013, 9:14am Top

>41 Lewis_Carroll: thank you! I wish there was an easier way to find these things on LT.

Jul 6, 2013, 9:23am Top

>43 southernbooklady: Where else would it be useful to have it linked? I'll be happy to add it wherever you'd like. It's currently on the main Legacy Libraries page, in the group description, and is the first link on the LLs wiki page.

Jul 6, 2013, 9:37am Top

Oh, I'm sure it is just me. I'm just learning my way around Legacy Libraries now and it feels a bit like I'm fumbling in the dark. I'll acclimate.

Jul 6, 2013, 9:55am Top

No worries - seriously, let me know if there's more info you want and where you'd like it. Chances are it's easily done! :-)

Jul 6, 2013, 11:25am Top

Thanks, Jeremy!

I'm taking the first ten.

Jul 6, 2013, 1:01pm Top

First batch finished--I entered the catalogue numbers in the Comments field, as plain numbers (no number signs or anything), I hope that's right?

One type of note not included in the abbreviations list is Russian capital letter F (Ф) followed by numbers in square brackets or without brackets, all italicised. (See, e.g. entries 3 and 4.) I'm guessing it refers to some other listing of Voltaire's books, with different numbering; square brackets indicating perhaps that the item catalogued here was inside another item.

Also, not sure what the occasional numbers in square brackets preceding pagination may be. Sometimes they seem to indicate number of pages, but this is usually given as plain number plus abbreviation (eg. entry #10, Achilles Tatius: 24, 320 pag. 14 cm. F 45), so...

Am I forgetting some more complete key somewhere?

Jul 7, 2013, 7:44am Top

This is my first attempt to help with legacy libraries; I'm taking the 501-520 entries.

Edited: Jul 29, 2013, 5:32am Top

Currently working on the 600's. There's plenty for all to go around. ;-)

A quick question. I'm entering author names as I find them listed. So, for example, "Carlos III Rey de España" even though I know full well that that's the same person as "Charles III King of Spain". Is there any convention on this?

Jul 29, 2013, 10:40am Top

I'd keep it as it is given in the catalogue, because the catalogue seems to reflect exactly what's on the books, and combine authors if necessary.

Jul 29, 2013, 11:37am Top

I would agree with LolaWalser. As it's the same person you always have the option of combining. Though in another case I'm working from an auction catalogue for a legacy library where the author has been entered incorrectly in some entries. For that I'm putting in the correct author, but providing the listing via a link in the comments field with an explanation so it's transparent.

Jul 29, 2013, 3:29pm Top

> 51/52: Thanks. That was pretty much what my instinct told me, but it's wonderful to have feedback.

>52 BuiltByBooks:: Yeah, okay, correcting erroneous entries is something else of course - sure, must be done - good thing you're explaining what you're doing there though.

Jul 30, 2013, 6:29am Top

I love "kouakres" for Quakers (in #672).

Aug 7, 2013, 9:36am Top

I am working on it. Also : can several people be logged on to the account at the same time ? Or is it better if I log off whenever I go do something else ?

Aug 7, 2013, 9:43am Top

>55 Kuiperdolin: - Lots of folks can be logged in at once, no worries there.

Sep 2, 2013, 12:47pm Top

Hi, this is Lola.

1. I left a message on Voltaire's profile for Kuiperdolin about entering text in the comment field--in this case it was also a humongous url which distorted catalogue view.

My understanding is that--for now at least--we only enter catalogue item numbers in the (public) comment field. Would like to confirm that. Jeremy? Also, if you are entering links--anywhere--please use HTML to shorten and explain them.

2. Is Luisali still with us? His/her batch of entries contain 507 twice, once with text in the comment field.

Duplicate numbers are tricky to detect (I only saw this because of the text), please take the time to run down entry batches as you finish them and check that you haven't missed or duplicated some. Much less painful with batches of ten-twenty than hundreds and thousands!

Sep 2, 2013, 2:14pm Top

Yeah, numbers are fine for now, sure. But the explanatory text as added may be useful to keep around, so feel free to add it back with HTML so the information doesn't get lost. That's totally fine.

Sep 2, 2013, 2:17pm Top

I've been using private comments for explanations etc. as I'm not sure how much of that we'll want to keep.

Sep 2, 2013, 2:35pm Top

>59 LolaWalser: - Totally fine too :-)

Sep 2, 2013, 2:46pm Top

Let me say how much it amused me to see, in the mass of more or less tedious parliamentary judgements--on burning books, the king slapping local government back etc.--the one on the destruction of caterpillars in Dijon.

Sep 2, 2013, 2:59pm Top

HA - that's awesome.

Edited: Dec 6, 2015, 3:30pm Top

EDIT : Actually, let me rephrase that : my sections are done, I'm out of here. No comment.

Edited: Nov 9, 2013, 3:31pm Top

Speaking of these comments, note that they are ordered alphabetically, not numerically, which is a terrible thing because previous values will get mixed up in the latter ones when we grow by one order of magnitude, so for instance 18 and 1802 are both between 180 and 181. It's already a mess in some parts.

Since they go to 3797, I strongly suggest we always code them on four digits such as

This way the proper order is preserved.

Comments ?

(that message was actually Kuiperdolin in case it matters)

Edited: Dec 6, 2015, 3:26pm Top


Jul 19, 2014, 4:40pm Top

No, not a bug. The book just didn't have any author attributed to it. Should be sorted now.

May 19, 2017, 1:55pm Top

I'm thrilled to report that Voltaire's Legacy Library is complete! Thanks in large part to the efforts of LT member cowpeace, as well as the whole LL group!

Check out all 3,877 volumes in Voltaire's collections: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/VoltaireLibrary. Find anything surprising? I'm somewhat lacking in French, so would love to hear a French-speaker's take on it.

May 22, 2017, 12:09pm Top

Great job everyone!

Jun 22, 2017, 2:05pm Top

This is great. Well done to you all!

May I ask, have you set a default display view for visitors in the settings page? Currently it loads the private comments and comments fields.

Group: Legacy Libraries

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