Success of ‘Lost Books’ Conference

| POSTED BY Graeme Kemp |

On 19-21 June the USTC group welcomed 40 guests for our sixth annual book history conference, on Lost Books. Over three days we heard 23 absorbing contributions, probing different aspects of loss: lost collections, dispersed libraries, lost items from inventories, and how, crucially, information on this lost matter can be retrieved. Two seminal papers, both from pioneers in this field, examined statistical models for recreating the whole corpus of lost books. Our last half day was devoted to modern examples of loss and destruction from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Visitors were hosted at two receptions, the first in the King James VI Library, where Daryl Green, Rare Books Curator, introduced a fascinating exhibition of previously unknown books unearthed during the university’s Lighting the Past cataloguing project. At a second reception, in the newly opened Martyrs Research Library, we launched the most recent book in our publication series, the Library of the Written Word, in the presence of its author, Wolfgang Undorf. The Library of the Written Word has now published 39 volumes since its inauguration in 2008; a wide selection were on display at the Brill book stall, where editor Arjan van Dijk was also able to display books from Hes & De Graaf, a major force in cartographical and bibliographical publishing recently purchased by Brill. The home community, 24 staff, research students, interns and volunteers (our largest yet), were delighted to be able to welcome such a distinguished body of guests, and present some of their own work in conversation, display posters and formal papers. The papers given at this conference will be published in a volume in the Library of the Written Word, edited by Flavia Bruni and Andrew Pettegree.

Our next conference, 18-20 June 2015, will be on the theme of ‘Buying and Selling’. The call for papers will be issued shortly.