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CERL Seminar 2015


Downloadable version of the programme
All papers have been published in Quaerendo 46:2-3 (2016)

The study of the history of libraries and library collections can produce useful information to support a library’s collection and conservation policies, to better understand its particular features and to strengthen its attraction for a broad public.

Additionally, library history can be considered as a particular form of cultural history: libraries have always been at the heart of intellectual life, and have functioned as nodes within the Republic of Letters. Considered from this double point of view, library history has the potential to bring together librarians and academic historians. Both categories of professionals with a special interest in libraries, however, do not always share the same paradigms. Many a (heritage) librarian will scorn present-day historians with their theoretical approach and lack of connoisseurship. Academic researchers, in their turn, will sometimes label the research output of librarians as too much heritage-oriented and inventory-like, losing itself in details and passion, much to the detriment of critical synthesis.

This CERL-seminar on library history brings together both parties. It will investigate how these diverging worlds can complement each other and how they can integrate each other’s approaches to further our knowledge of library history. Questions to be addressed are the following:

WHY? Why should we study library history? Can it fulfill its pretension to strengthen a library’s position, relevance and current management? Can it be acknowledged as an independent subdiscipline within book history and cultural history?

WHAT? What exactly do we mean by library history? What aspects do researchers in library history need to address?

HOW? Which methods can be used in library history? Should we try to match the librarian’s evidence-based, empirical connoisseurship with the theoretically supported, synthetical praxis of the academic researcher? What novel methods can be used to collect, interpret and present the research data? Do the digital humanities provide useful tools in this respect? And what can CERL do to support researchers?

It is hoped that by inviting speakers to present their views and practices, the CERL-seminar will boost library history as a strong academic discipline in close collaboration with the library world.

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 services/seminars/presentations2015.txt · Last modified: 2016/12/07 14:47 by lefferts



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