A look back at our 2013

Here on The Collation, it’s been a busy 2013. Today’s post will be our 68th of the year, and as of December 15th, we’d racked up 46,012 visits from 33,411 unique visitors, producing 67,361 pageviews this year. phew

It’s gratifying that we have readers who enjoy our posts and that come to us repeatedly to learn what we have to share. But what’s even more important is that The Collation continues to be a place where Folger staff can share with readers information about our collections, where readers can share with others what they’ve learned from our materials, and where readers can help staff learn more about what we have. The first aspect of the blog is probably what most people think of if they think of what social media at specials collections libraries can do—our blog posts highlight the great work done by folks at the Library and help draw attention to acquisitions and exhibits and ways of understanding our materials. And some of my favorite posts from this past year have been some of your favorite posts, too.

But it’s the posts where we learn from readers that thrill me the most. There’s been great posts by readers sharing their research (thanks, Katie, Whitney, Vicki, and Daniel!) and collaborations between our curators and researchers elsewhere (thanks, Arnold and Bill!). And there have been posts where readers have helped us understand our collections by sharing their knowledge in the comments. Even aside from the crocodile mysteries (but thanks, everyone, for playing along with those!), Collation readers have helped us better understand who Gwen Lally was and who the mysterious Sem was. I’ve written about this before when I shared what Erik Kwakkel shared with us about his discoveries about one of the items in our bindings image collection, but it’s worth saying again: this circulation of information is a powerful argument for the value of open access and the potential vibrancy of scholarly exchanges around library and digital collections. It wouldn’t be social media if it wasn’t social, and we wouldn’t have been able to learn what we do from you if you weren’t willing to share with us. 

So what were your favorite posts from 2013, as measured by page views? In order of descent, starting with the outrageously popular 6,882 page views down to the more reasonably popular 809 views, they are:

  1. Learning to write the alphabet
  2. Filing, seventeenth-century style
  3. Woodcut, engraving, or what?
  4. What’s that smell? Getting personal with historic costumes
  5. An exercise in collaborative editing: Anthony Bagot’s letters and Nathaniel Bacon’s pirate depositions
  6. Deciphering signature marks
  7. Margents and All: Thomas Milles between manuscript and print
  8. First Folios online
  9. Shakespeare’s personal library, as curated by William Henry Ireland
  10. Myth-busting early modern book illustration, part one

What’s fun about that list is that three of the posts on it—numbers 3, 5, and 6—are posts that were written in 2012, not 2013. People sometimes think of blogs as ephemeral, but some of the posts, at least, keep their relevancy and usefulness well after their publication date. (The top 10 of all time list includes 6 posts from 2012, 1 from 2011, and 3 from 2013.) It also touches on nearly all aspects of our collections, including manuscripts, printed books, art, what we refer to as “special collections,” ((That is, all that stuff that’s not obviously books or manuscripts or art, such as furniture and costumes and porcelain tchotchkes)) and things that don’t fit neatly into any of those categories. There are posts that touch on esoteric concerns and posts that we can all appreciate even if we aren’t familiar with early modern materials. It’s a little bit of something for everyone. ((Okay, do you really want to see the list of top ten posts of all time, aka from August 18, 2011–December 15, 2013?

Top 10 page views of all time:

  1. Learning to write the alphabet (May 2013): 6,882
  2. Woodcut, engraving, or what? (February 2012): 3,211
  3. Filing, seventeenth-century style (March 2013): 3,056
  4. Spectral imaging of Shakespeare’s seventh signature (March 2012): 2,809
  5. Deciphering signature marks (August 2012): 2,427
  6. An exercise in collaborative editing: Anthony Bagot’s letters and Nathaniel Bacon’s pirate depositions (October 2012): 1,810
  7. Welcome to The Collation (August 2011): 1,706
  8. What’s that smell? Getting personal with historic costumes (October 2013): 1,373
  9. Learning to read old paper (June 2012): 1,331
  10. Learning from mistakes (Feb 2012): 1,098))

And what’s in store for 2014? More of the same: great posts from curators, staff, and readers. ((If you’re doing research on Folger collections and think you have something our readers would like to learn, get in touch with me at collation@folger.edu.)) I’m also hoping to create some free ebooks featuring material from The Collation so that you can, for instance, share our posts introducing basic book  history information, or assign a bundle of posts about digital resources. Maybe, if I set my mind to it, I’ll take a cue from the University of Iowa’s Special Collections and Archives folks and explore how animated gifs might help us appreciate our collections! And if you have anything particular you’d like to see us do, leave a comment below.

We’ll be slowing down to a once-a-week schedule over the next couple of weeks, giving everyone a bit of a holiday breather. But I’ll look forward to seeing you back here in 2014!