Magazine article American Libraries

The Dextral Transversion Factor in the Science of Edging

Magazine article American Libraries

The Dextral Transversion Factor in the Science of Edging

Article excerpt

Lost to scholar for 50 years, and important thesis on precise edging demands our attention.

Students and practitioners of Clern's Manual for Edgers, cited in Professor Charles Curran's seminal essay, "Edging: art or science?" (AL, July/Aug. 1988, p. 618), have waited in vain for years for acknowledgment in the Manual, in Curran's subsequent scholarship, or elsewhere in the relevant literature of the effect of dextral transversion on the science of edging. (Curran's paper defines edging as "The process of lining up the spines of the shelf-read books with the front edge of the shelf.")

The first recorded observation of dextral transversion in the western hemisphere took place at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on Wed., Feb. 29, 1934, by Mervin Duey, assistant librarian of the Lake Placid Merchants and Mechanics Library in upstate New York. Duey, sometimes confused by historians with the prominent nineteenth-century cosmologist who founded the Lake Placid Club, enjoyed a considerable reputation as a precise and proactive edger.

Disorderly protrusions

Lake Placid lay snowbound on that winter day in the depths of the Great Depression, and the only sound in the street was the jingle of sleigh bells. The Merchants and Mechanics Library was deserted except for Duey, who was edging in the warmth of the west wing, and William Wembley Toffer III, who had come in a little after noon, relatively sober, and was snoring quietly in his customary chair by the radiator, near Philosophy.

Duey was edging in Horatio Alger when he became aware of the ragged edge of a shelf of Alger novels, their spines slanted inward from left to right. If the left comers edged neatly, he observed, the right comers were off, inset from 40 to 90 millimeters. If the right corners edged properly. the left comers protruded in a disorderly fashion. …

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