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"For the bibliographers at UCL": a Humument and the lessons it teaches 21st century librarians

Welsh, A; (2015) "For the bibliographers at UCL": a Humument and the lessons it teaches 21st century librarians. Presented at: Livres d'artistes: the Artist's Book in Theory and Practice, Cardiff. Green open access

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Abstract

In 2012, I was fortunate enough to meet Tom Phillips at his exhibition at the Book Art Bookshop in Hoxton. Signing my copy of A Humument, (5th ed., 2012), he declared himself surprised that it features in the MA Library and Information Studies, and wrote an inscription, “For the Bibliographers of UCL.” He wondered what his work, originally envisioned to prove that he could make Art from anything – even an old Victorian novel – can teach librarians. This paper highlights the many lessons that are intrinsic to a mass-produced artist’s book that also exists as a series of prints, USB with audio recording, web app, celestial and terrestrial globes, and a skull, and which Phillips refers to himself as “a work in progress” and “Gesamtkunstwerk.” Artists’ books often challenge the boundaries of the book form. As bibliographers, we can cite Gaskell (1995) : “All documents, manuscript and printed, are the bibliographer’s province; and it may be added that the aims and procedures of bibliography apply not only to written and printed books, but also to any document, disc, tape or film where reproduction is involved and variant versions may result.” This paper explores what A Humument means with regard to the core concepts of ‘variant versions’, ‘the edition’, the ‘ideal copy’ and ‘the Work’. We consider Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (IFLA, 1998) and whether its implementation through new international code Resource Description and Access facilitates easier discovery of the full range of the artist’s work and Mallock’s (1892) novel which formed its canvas. Finally, we question how Gaskell’s (1995) assertion that “Bibliography’s overriding responsibility must be to determine a text in its most accurate form” can be applied to a work with which the artist has been engaged since 1966 and which he continues to create, recreate and innovate today. Works Cited Gaskell, P. (1995) A New Introduction to Bibliography. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll. IFLA (1998) Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. Berlin: De Gruyter, http://www.ifla.org/publications/functional-requirements-for-bibliographic-records Mallock, W.H. (1892) A Human Document. London: Chapman & Hall. Phillips, T. (2012) A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel. 5th ed. London: Thames & Hudson.

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: "For the bibliographers at UCL": a Humument and the lessons it teaches 21st century librarians
Event: Livres d'artistes: the Artist's Book in Theory and Practice
Location: Cardiff
Dates: 04 December 2015 - 06 December 2015
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://livresdartistes.weebly.com/programme.html
Language: English
Keywords: Humument, cataloguing, cataloging, bibliography, book as object, artists books
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Information Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1475163
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