Book History Research Network Workshop

What’s in a Name? Collections within the Collection.

Friday 10 June 2016, 10-5pm |  University College London


“Collecting … as a curtain-raiser, may be described as the gathering together and setting aside of selected objects.” (Susan M. Pearce, 1995).

“At the simplest level, one can conceive of a collection as any aggregation of individual items. This definition says nothing about the form or nature of those items: they may be physical or digital, and digital items may be surrogates of physical items or they may be “born-digital”, the primary manifestations of a work. (UKOLN, 2002).

book history

This one day workshop seeks to explore the nature of the collection and its role in Book History. Papers are sought that explore ‘the collection’ as a concept and / or the acquisition, management and use of specific collections. We are actively seeking papers from academics and from librarians, and hope to present some panels that provide histories of collectors and collections and others that consider the curatorial activities within institutions.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

·      Definitions of ‘the collection’ as a concept, either generally or within a particular institution

·      Histories of particular collections and / or collectors

·      Traditional examinations of book collections and their former owners (cf. Jack L. Capps. Emily Dickinson’s Reading, 1836-1886 (Harvard University Press, 1966)

·      Reuniting book collections online (cf. Melville’s Marginalia Online, )

·      (Re-)creating collections from the general bookstock (e.g. following ACRL’s Guidelines on the Selection and Transfer of Materials from General Collections to Special Collections, )

·      Dealing with donations (e.g. following IFLA’s Gifts for the Collections: Guidelines for Libraries, )

·      Documenting a collection (cataloguing, describing, writing a scholarly account)

·      Challenges and joys of collections in particular formats (audio, digital, film, etc.)

This workshop welcomes presentations in two formats:

1)    ‘traditional’ 20-25 minute research papers (or panels of 2 or 3 thematically-linked papers, proposed together).

2)    ‘lightning talks’ of 10 minutes. Usually consisting of only 1 PowerPoint slide, these talks are ideal to introduce a work in progress or highlight a particular collection or issue.

Please send your 300 word proposal (making clear your preference for a paper or lightning talk) to organizer Anne Welsh – - by midnight on Monday 2 May 2016.

This workshop is being hosted by UCL Department of Information Studies, but we are grateful to our colleagues in UCL Libraries, who are curating a special selection of materials from their collections that workshop attendees can visit after lunch.

You can find out more about UCL’s collections from the Special Collections webpages -  - or from Treasures from UCL by Head of Special Collections and Archivist, Gillian Furlong (UCL Press, 2015), open access enhanced edition at

Please note that there will be a £10 conference fee (payable on the day) to cover catering costs (sandwich lunch and other refreshments). On this occasion, the Book History Research Network will not be able to pay for speakers’ travel expenses.