A few days ago I shared the following interesting reference question:
“We are trying to find the following book:
Pera, Francesco: Memoria sopra il monument inalzato al Granduca Ferdinando I. in Livorno e relazione sulla presa di Bona. Livorno 1888.”
I chose this question for a variety of reasons, not least of which was the fact that the book in question is not listed in Worldcat or available through Google Books. Even worse, the title is both incomplete and misspelled. Worst of all, Francesco Pera is not the author.
But, still, three librarians responded and I suppose I should hand out some prizes.
The second-runner up was Alison from Johnson City, TN. Alison had the key insight that if an Italian book isn’t in Worldcat, then maybe it’s in whatever the Italian equivalent of Worldcat is. This took her to the National Library in Rome which is close enough to merit a prize of….four fish! Alison, be sure to bring some bags!
First runner-up was Andromeda, from Massachusetts. Andromeda quickly figured out the book wasn’t in Worldcat and turned to Google Books, hoping for a digitized frontispiece from the holding library. That’s a neat trick. Unfortunately, the book isn’t in Google Books, but she did find a bibliography that sent her to the National Library in Florence and to the book in question. Her search moved through search engines, digitized bibliographies, library catalogs, and plenty of Google Translate, I’m sure. For effectively pushing the question through a wide variety of information sources, she deserves to “sing loud, sing proud” with…an autographed Dropkick Murphy’s poster from the 2001 Vans Warped Tour!
And the winner was Elizabeth from…well, I don’t know where, but she correctly identified four libraries in Italy that have the book:
- The National Central Library in Florence
- The F.D. Guerrazzi branch of the Public Library of Labronica (Livorno)
- The Piombino Municipal Archives
- The library of the Museo del Risorgimento
Moreover, she did so in about the most elegantly simple way possible: she asked her colleagues. I’ll admit, I doggedly pursued the book through online resources for about 15 minutes before I finally got to a list of libraries holding the title. Rather than waste the time, she asked the head of her Interlibrary Loan department, who suggested a search through national union catalogs, something easily done using the Karlsruhe Virtueller Katalog (KVK). I had never seen the KVK before, but maybe that’s because I don’t work in ILL. I’ve sure as heck bookmarked it for future use! For showing us that, sometimes, our colleagues are the best place to start our search, Elizabeth deserves a prize, but I don’t know where she lives. So, I’ll take a random guess that she lives in Ohio and likes venison. Congratulations, Elizabeth, you’ve won a “not too tore up” deer carcass!
It’s really interesting to see how other librarians approach tricky reference questions, and I’ll put something a bit more challenging up in the near future.
Oh yeah, here’s the text of the e-mail I sent when I originally answered the Francesco Pera question:
Ugolino della Gherardesca wrote a historical bibliographyof 18th and 19th century monographs relating to the Province of Livorno. Youcan read Volume 1 here.
The full title of the book you need is Memoria sopra il monumento inalzato al granduca Ferdinando 1. in Livorno : estratta dalla Filza degli affari della direzione del r. archivio centrale di stato in Firenze, anno 1855, e Relazione sulla presa di Bona. It appears that the work is a collection of papers related to thefamous I Quattro Mori in the Piazza Micheli. The papers werecompiled and edited by Francesco Bonaini in 1855, and later edited again byFrancesco Pera in 1888, hence the confusing authorship. della Gherardesca shows available copies of the reportat the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence, the Piombino municipal archives, and theBiblioteca Labronica in Livorno.
Here’s the catalog at the BNCF: http://www.bncf.firenze.sbn.it/ (themonograph is catalogued under Bonaini’s name) And the record in Piombino is available through their OPAC (search for Bonaini). I can’t figure out the catalog in Livorno, but theysupposedly have a copy as well. Finally, I searched the British Library on a whim, and there seems to be a copy at the National Art Library in the U.K.; I’ve sent the record in a separate email.
Oh, and here’s the monument in question in Google Street View (just because it’s neat!)
I hope this helps!
Lane Wilkinson, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Have a nice weekend!
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