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The Collation

The Collation by the numbers

Happy Anniversary to us!

This blog was started on August 18, 2011, making it ten years old. That’s pretty old in dog years and absolutely ancient in internet years. For this, our 661st post, we would like to take you on an enumerative journey, and so we proudly present: The Collation by the numbers!

The Basics

This is our 661st post, which comes out to just over 1 post per week. Not bad for ten years and counting!

There are approximately 600,000 words on The Collation. Overall, we average just a touch under 1000 words per post—but that skews low because of the monthly Crocodile Mystery posts, which are only about 250-300 words each!

The Writers

For our staff writers, it is unsurprising that our top three posters were three of the originals on the blog: Heather Wolfe has 58 posts, Sarah Werner has 68 posts, and Erin Blake comes in with an outstanding 81 posts. Hats off to them, and all of the rest of the Folger staff, past and present, who have written for this blog. We’ve had 30 different staff writers over the last ten years, and we wouldn’t be here without them.

We’ve also had 110 Guest Author posts by about 75 different authors.

What People Are Reading

Our top posts are consistently some of the oldest posts on the blog. It doesn’t seem to matter what time period you chose to run stats over, Erin’s post Woodcut, Engraving, or What? from 2012 regularly blows all of the other posts out of the water, usually doubling the next highest page view count.

Two other posts from Erin, Learning to Read Old Paper (2012) and Uncut, Unopened, Untrimmed, Uh-oh (2016), are also regularly in the top five posts.

Heather’s Learning to Write the Alphabet (2013) and Sarah Werner’s Deciphering Signature Marks (2012) round out the top five.

The moral of this story, it seems, is that posts explaining book history/bibliography/paleography-related subjects really are evergreen!

Erin wins the prize for “most viral” post. Most of the traffic to this blog comes via Google. However, in January of this year, Erin’s post on Using Cardboard Spacers went viral (largely, it seems, from John Overholt’s Tweet about the post). For the period of January-June 2021, this post had our second-most page views, and of those 2000+ views, nearly 70% originated from Twitter!

What Has Been Written

Corpus-analysis tools like Voyant Tools are used for data analysis on a wide variety of sources. Including The Collation. With the help of Julie Swierczek, who got to get down and dirty with some XML, we were able to throw our corpus into Voyant and find out all sorts of fun things.

Click on the image to go to an interactive version.

Unsurprisingly, the word “Folger” comes up the most on the blog (a bit over 3000 times), followed by the word “book” (just over 2000 times) and “books” (a little over 1400 times). Amusingly both “early” and “modern” come up frequently, but clearly they’re not always connected. “Early” shows up 1288 times, while “modern” only comes up 981 (and about 800 times “early” collocates with “modern”).

“Shakespeare” does crack the top ten, with 1166 uses, while the highest-ranked proper (first) name is “John” with 500 uses. London comes in as our most-mentioned place (475).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, “crocodile” comes in much higher than one would expect for a library blog. (For those new to this blog, or who just want a refresher, learn why our monthly mystery post is called a Crocodile Mystery, which earned its name in May 2012 and has been going strong ever since.)

In conclusion

This blog wouldn’t exist without the hundreds of hours that Folger staff and researchers have spent research and writing for it. This blog also wouldn’t exist without you, our readers. So thank you to both sides for your time, attention, and on-point and entertaining comments.

The Collation is a bit of an eclectic place, with posts ranging from the medieval to the modern, the physical to the digital, and alchemy to zoology. But we like to think of it as home, and hope you all do too.

Here’s to another ten years!


Thank you, thank you for this wonderful blog! I’ve enjoyed it since the get-go.

Richard Waugaman — August 10, 2021

i have relied on the Collation for education and entertainment for most of those years. Congratulations!

Mary Augusta Thomas — August 11, 2021