The Monte Carlo approach to borrowing books

Everyone knows that libraries lend books.  Some people know that you can borrow books not in the local library via an inter-library loan.  A few people know that you can borrow books from the national library this way, or get photocopies of journal articles.

Sometimes it’s worth pushing the envelope a bit.  Today I’ve rolled the dice to see what I can get.  I’ve placed an order for volume 1 of Abbeloos 1872 edition of Bar Hebraeus Chronicon Ecclesiasticum.  Will it arrive, I wonder?

The book itself is the most recent publication of this 13th century Syriac text, which has an entry on all the important figures of the Syriac church up to that time.  It comes with a Latin translation.  No translation into any modern language exists, yet it is the foundation of all our knowledge of Syriac literature.  It’s pretty old, now, and hard to get hold of.  It’s a prime candidate for reprinting and for Archive.org.

There are a few copies around; it isn’t that rare a book, although copies never seem to come up for sale online.  Abbeloos died in 1906, so the book is out of copyright everywhere.  But the problem is whether any library will allow anyone to take a book of that age home; whether any library that holds it will lend it.  I don’t know; but let’s see!

Usually I ask for books which I can borrow.  I don’t believe that anyone will lend me this book for use at home.  But possibly some liberal university will loan it “for use in library only”.  This isn’t helpful, of course, unless I can take my scanner into the library and do the necessary there.  I’ve asked for permission; we’ll see if that is forthcoming.

Why stick to the well-beaten path, after all?  Let’s go for the burn!

PS: See the comments; it turns out that volume 1 is on Google Books, albeit inaccessible outside the USA.

7 Responses to “The Monte Carlo approach to borrowing books”


  1. Christopher Ecclestone

    Its in the New York Public Library:

    http://catnyp.nypl.org/search?/XChronicon+Ecclesiasticum&searchscope=1&SORT=R/XChronicon+Ecclesiasticum&searchscope=1&SORT=R&SUBKEY=Chronicon%20Ecclesiasticum/1%2C3%2C3%2CB/frameset&FF=XChronicon+Ecclesiasticum&searchscope=1&SORT=R&1%2C1%2C

    The library will copy the books for you (at a per page fee of 15cts)if they look fragile (as most pre-1950 books seem to be) and moreover will scan them onto a USB drive if you hand them one..

  2. Stephen C. Carlson

    It on Google Books at http://books.google.com/books?id=34APAAAAYAAJ

    If you cannot access it outside the US, I can send you the PDF.

  3. Roger Pearse

    Stephen — this is great news! Admittedly not to people outside the USA, but I have an anonymiser and have been able to get it. It is indeed volume 1 of the Chron. Eccl. I couldn’t see vols 2 or 3, tho — do you know if
    they are around?

    Chris – thank you for the suggestion. A facility to scan it onto something is exactly what is wanted. I might look into this one.

    I must email the library and ask for volume 2 instead, tho, given that vol. 1 has been done.

  4. Stephen C. Carlson

    No, I cannot find it either.

  5. Roger Pearse

    Thanks.

  6. Jesse W. Torgerson

    I just found your blog and hit here, so apologies if you have already resolved this …

    The University of California library systems have a copy of v. 3; They are quite “liberal” — in that I have often checked out older books.
    Here is the record:
    http://melvyl.cdlib.org/F/7PFISGUV8DJVTN27C6DXSJGTJ17AQAPXF475US78EHIDI16CTN-03146?func=full-set-set&set_number=000505&set_entry=000004&format=999

    If you requested it through UC Berkeley I’m pretty sure you could get them to either scan or photocopy it for you. If not I return there this summer and would be willing to perform the service for the betterment of all. I assume you know of the “unsatisfactory” E. A. W. Budge english translation … which I have read and is at least better than nothing (since I don’t read Syriac).

  7. Roger Pearse

    Many thanks for the suggestion!

    My local library was unable to get me a copy through ILL, but ordering a photocopy (or PDF) this way might be a better idea.



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