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Building a Library Without Walls: the Early Years of the Bodleian Library

Adams, RJ; Ferlier, L; (2018) Building a Library Without Walls: the Early Years of the Bodleian Library. In: Bautz, A and Gregory, J, (eds.) Libraries, Books, and Collectors of Texts, 1600-1900. Routledge: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

This chapter exposes the administrative processes involved in the reformation of a major library, that of the library at the University of Oxford which became the Bodleian, in the period between 1605 (when the first printed catalogue was published) and the printed catalogue of 1620. The Bodleian experienced massive growth (three-fold between 1605 and 1620), especially when a copy of all new printed books were sent after the agreement with the Stationer’s Company in 1610. How the catalogue came to represent more than the representation of shelf contents, is discussed. The intellectual processes involved in filling the book shelves, and the attitudes towards book donors, are examined. Important donors from the aristocracy, would be treated differently from, lesser donors such as members of the local gentry. The library was not some neutral ground for the study of knowledge but a place replicating the religious dissensions of the 16th and 17th centuries: Thomas Bodley, who exercised minute control on administrative matters from catalogue descriptions to records of donations, was involved in the confessional conflict and the conflict with Rome was reflected in the importance accorded to works of theology. Politically or theologically sensitive material might be concealed rather than openly integrated into the Library. Thus the authors consider the fate of the Savilian collection in relation to materials associated with the professor of geometry, John Wallis, after the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy. The chapter is the fruit of a methodology using relational databases, to construct a ‘biblio-geography’ –revealing, for example, where shelfmarks have not been altered since the seventeenth century. Books were shifted as they were reclassified. Donors’ copies might be rebound with other materials, or got rid of. A public memorial to the philanthropy of a nobleman might be the brass stamps used to stamp their coats of arms in retrospective binding: this acted as promotion for the Bodleian Library. Sources include Benefactors’ Register which was printed until 1604, and ‘proto-catalogues’ that survive in the archives of the Bodleian, but the authors have taken their study to the level of the books, studying the acquisitions as physical copies to gain information about the provenance of copies from marks, and sampling material that was sold off to college libraries. Thus the life of the ‘private’ book before incorporation is added to an account of how the books were thereafter treated in this ‘public’ library.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Building a Library Without Walls: the Early Years of the Bodleian Library
ISBN-13: 9781138593190
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.routledge.com/Libraries-Books-and-Coll...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Collecting; libraries; provenance; Bodleian Library.
UCL classification: UCL
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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Centre for Editing Lives and Letters
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1528793
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