Sunday, October 28, 2007

World Digital Library Agreement
The Library of Congress and UNESCO

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and UNESCO Assistant Director for Communication and Information Abdul Waheed Khan today signed an agreement at UNESCO headquarters in Paris pledging cooperative efforts to build a World Digital Library Web site.

The World Digital Library will digitize unique and rare materials from libraries and other cultural institutions around the world and make them available for free on the Internet. These materials will include manuscripts, maps, books, musical scores, sound recordings, films, prints and photographs. The objectives of the World Digital Library include promoting international and intercultural understanding, increasing the quantity and diversity of cultural materials on the Internet, and contributing to education and scholarship.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Library of Congress and UNESCO will cooperate in convening working groups of experts and other stakeholders to develop guidelines and technical specifications for the project, enlist new partners and secure the necessary support for the project from private and public sources. A key aspect of the project is to build digital library capabilities in the developing world, so that all countries and regions of the world can participate and be represented in the World Digital Library.

To test the feasibility of the project, the Library of Congress, UNESCO and five other partner institutions -- the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of Alexandria, Egypt; the National Library of Brazil; the National Library of Egypt; the National Library of Russia; and the Russian State Library -- have developed a prototype of the World Digital Library. The prototype is being demonstrated to national delegations at the UNESCO General Conference currently underway. The World Digital Library will become available to the public as a full-fledged Web site in late 2008 or early 2009.

The prototype functions in the six U.N. languages -- Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, plus Portuguese -- and features search and browse functionality by place, time, topic and contributing institution. Input into the design of the prototype was solicited through a consultative process that involved UNESCO, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, and individuals and institutions in more than 40 countries.

"UNESCO has been an exceptional partner of the Library of Congress during the development of this important global resource," said Billington. "We look forward to strengthening our collaboration with UNESCO as we work with current and future partners in this exciting enterprise to bring the cultural treasures of the world to the world."

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States and the largest library in the world, with more than 134 million items in more than 450 languages. Its collections are universal in scope and available in all formats in which information is recorded. The Library seeks to further understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge and by celebrating human achievement.

Additional information about the World Digital Library can be found here.

Major Digitization Project Underway at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München (BSB)

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München (BSB) holds the largest collection of incunabula world wide, which currently comprises 9708 editions in nearly 20.000 copies. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft has granted funding for a complete digitization of the collection.

Over the coming years, one copy of each 15th-century edition held in the BSB will be digitzed. It is intended to start digitization with the ca. 1150 incunabula in German and the ca. 680 editions of which the BSB holds the sole surviving copy in a German library. After that, books printed in the German-speaking countried in the 15th century and books printed abroad will be digitized. Illustrations (mainly woodcuts) will be indexed with an iconographic classification system.

The digital reproductions will be made accessible through the electronic catalogue BSB-Ink and other databases (e.g. OPAC, union catalogues). Currently, BSB-Ink online already provides access to digital reproductions of nearly 700 incunabula, of which ca. 540 are broadsides. A list of digitized incunabula (by shelfmark only) is accessible via the Index Search.

Modern Intellectual History
November 2007 issue

Special cluster of essays on book history:

Bill Bell, “Introduction: What was the History of the Book?”
Robert Darnton, “What is the History of Books Revisited"
Roger Chartier, “The Order of Books Revisited”
Peter Burke, “The Social History of Knowledge Revisited”
David D. Hall, “What was the History of the Book: A Response”

Bibliography Week 2008

Bibliography Week happens each year at the end of January in New York City when many of the principal national organizations devoted to book history -- the American Printing History Association, the Bibliographical Society of America, the Grolier Club, among others -- have their annual meetings. Other groups plan interesting events, too, and many of these are open to the public.

A preliminary schedule of Bibliography Week events for 2008 (January 22-26, 2008) has been mounted on the Grolier Club website.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bound for Glory: the Bible as Book in Scotland
The Library, Merchiston Campus, Napier University, Edinburgh
October 15 - December 14, 2007
Mon-Thurs 9.00-20.00, Friday 9.00-17.00

This exhibition celebrates the printing, publication and distribution of the Bible in Scotland as part of the marking of the first five hundred years of printed word here. It does so in recognition of the significant role that the Bible played in the development of our printing and publishing industries. It is the only book that has remained continually in print over the past five hundred years.

The exhibition covers the relationship between the changing material form of the Bible as book and its differing functions over time. It does not offer or reflect any particular view of the Bible other than as a book; it does not privilege any particular religion or denomination. The exhibition tells the historical narrative of the Bible as book in Scotland through the range of exhibits drawn from the wider Edward Clark Collection of rare books held at Napier University. The Exhibition was formally opened by Professor Philip Esler, Chief Executive of the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) on 12 October.

The Exhibition is complemented by a series of public lectures during the period of its opening. These are held, unless otherwise indicated below, on Wednesdays at 18.00 in lecture theatre B2 of the Merchiston campus.

17 Oct.
Dr K.J. McCann (Cambridge University)
The Early Work of the British and Foreign Bible Society in

31 Oct.
Prof Ian Campbell (Edinburgh University)
Reading and Mis-Reading the Bible

7 Nov.
Dr Richard Holloway
How to read the Bible

14 Nov.
Prof David Jasper (Glasgow University)
The Bible in Conversation: The Art of the Good Story

28 Nov.
Dr David McKitterick (Cambridge University)

5 Dec.
Dr Femke Molekamp (University of Sussex)
The Geneva Bible and its Readers

Further details can be had from
The Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society
21st Annual Conference
Hosted by Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
26-29 June, 2008

Call for Papers -- The Scottish Cultural Diaspora

In its first trip to Nova Scotia, ECSSS will hold an exciting conference highlighting the spread of Scottish culture to Canada, the Americas and other areas of the world during the very long eighteenth century (1689-1830), as well as the complex ways in which cultural interaction occurred during this period. As always, proposals for papers and panels on other topics related to eighteenth-century Scotland will also be welcome.

The plenary speakers will be Leith Davis of Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, "Scotland, Print Culture and Transnational Identity in Britain, 1689-1707," and John Reid of Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, "Scots, Natives and Empire in Eastern British America, 1760-1800." The conference will feature performances of Scottish music, an exhibit of Scottish books, and a post-conference excursion to Pictou (where there is a reconstruction of an eighteenth-century emigrant ship, the Hector, which landed in 1773 bearing Highlanders). Conference participants may stay at the lovely Lord Nelson Hotel, and the conference sessions will be held at Dalhousie University.

To propose a paper or panel, please email or fax a one-page abstract (with title) and a one-page cv, by 31st October, to:
Richard B. Sher
Executive Secretary -- ECSSS
New Jersey Institute of Technology
University Heights, Newark NJ 07102-1982, USA; fax: 973-596-5345

For general information, please contact the conference organizer:
Fiona A. Black
Director, School of Information Management
Dalhousie University
Halifax, NS B3H 3J5, Canada
Call for Papers
Seminar on Textual Bibliography for Modern Foreign Languages
Monday, 2 June 2008 in the Conference Center, The British Library

We are seeking four or five papers of approx. 30 minutes each, one at 11.15 a.m. and the others after lunch, with ample time for discussion after each paper. Papers dealing with any aspect of printing and book production in Continental Eastern and Western Europe are warmly invited, as are papers dealing with other aspects of historical bibliography, editing, and the history of the book and reading. Papers giving an account of work in progress or offers to introduce discussion of bibliographical interest are a long-standing feature of the seminar. Please let us know by the end of April if you are willing to give a
paper. We should be grateful if you would send us the names and addresses of potential new participants in the seminar, especially postgraduate students.

Barry Taylor
Susan Reed
Early Printed Collections
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB; tel +44 (0)20 7412 7576; tel +44 (0)20 7412 7311 / 7572
Fax +44 (0)20 7412 7577

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Call for Papers
"Making Meaning from Material"
Chetham's Library, Manchester, UK
January 18, 2008

We invite graduate students at either MA and PhD level from any discipline to present 20 minute papers exploring the critical issues involved in their research into the printed or the manuscript book. We particularly encourage those wishing to discuss the intellectual, methodological and legal effects of recent digitization projects, including EEBO and Google's new partnership with the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

We welcome papers on these generally defined themes:

* The ways in which the physical form of a work influences its function or reception. Participants may here wish to think about the changing form of the book for a new context or period.

* The relationship between audience and textual form. Do audiences (groups or individuals) shape a work's physical form and/or textual content, or are they merely passive receptors of a fixed object?

* The process of making material from meaning. Do we find 'creators' (i.e. authors) and 'makers' (i.e. editors, publishers and book makers) of books disputing the relationship between content and form? What impact does this debate have on the formation of intellectual property law?

* The impact of digitization and the internet on study of the printed and the manuscript book in either methodological or legal terms.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Matthew Yeo, at by 15th November 2007.

More information available here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

National Endowment for the Humanities
Digital Humanities Initiative

NEH has launched a new digital humanities initiative aimed at supporting projects that utilize or study the impact of digital technology. Digital technologies offer humanists new methods of conducting research, conceptualizing relationships, and presenting scholarship. NEH is interested in fostering the growth of digital humanities and lending support to a wide variety of projects, including those that deploy digital technologies and methods to enhance our understanding of a topic or issue; those that study the impact of digital technology on the humanities--exploring the ways in which it changes how we read, write, think, and learn; and those that digitize important materials thereby increasing the public's ability to search and access humanities information.

For info on various funding programs, many of potential interest to textual scholars, click here.