You walk into the library and step up to one of the self-service terminals. You just popped into to find a book that will help you with your research project, and you want to use the DiscoverEd to locate the book in the library. You type the title into the search bar and hit enter. The first page of results shows articles and book reviews of the book. You go back to the search bar, but this time you click on ‘Advanced Search,’ and you type the title, the author’s name, and the publication year into the respective fields. On the results page, the book you want is the first option. One more click, and you know what floor of the library it’s on, which set of stacks it’s in, and the call number it’s sorted by.
Professor Lockwood’s interest and curiosity in the subterranean infrastructure of cheap periodical press and the work of its pirate publishers was cultivated during the time spent with the periodicals and journals of the time to research his book Lowlife: Representations of Social Inferiority in Britain, 1660 – 1830. Although there are not many items produced by these pirate printers still extant today, Lockwood believes that a better understanding of their social and cultural influences could shed light onto their contribution to the spread of literature among the lower classes and, additionally, could elucidate references and allusions in contemporary plays and literary works.
This is the first in a series of informative blog posts aimed at illuminating the production and use of digitised materials. The posts are part of a larger project for creating sustainable digital learning materials, supported by EDINA, the Centre for Research Collections and the Centre for the History of the Book.
Nowadays, it is highly unlikely that you will encounter a university student who has never had to deal with digital materials: at the very least, they browsed the online catalogue of the university library to find the physical resources they needed. The digital has entered academia in various forms. Many university libraries now simply subscribe to the online editions of academic journals, rather than accumulate piles of the physical issues. Digital collections are created and presented on the libraries’ websites, allowing ready access for more users regardless of geographical distance. Whole books can be found online or in ebook form. Technically speaking, some students might not even have to set foot in the library. The computer screen can be the window to all the resources they need.
Professor James Loxley’s dynamic report on the origin, development and future of the Palimpsest Project provided an engaging second lecture for this spring series at the Centre for the History of the Book. The blog associated with the project, which Professor Loxley directed us to throughout the lecture, explains that the name Palimpsest was chosen ‘to evoke the multi-layered imaginative, conceptual and historical cityscapes of our everyday settings that this resource seeks to bring to life.’ Professor Loxley’s lecture further elucidated these noble aims and outlined some of the obstacles the project faced throughout its journey.
Professor Paolo Quattrone began this semester’s seminar series at the Centre for the History of the Book with a wide-ranging discussion of accounting, rhetoric, and the administration of the Jesuit Order.
If these seem unlikely topics to crop up at the Centre’s seminar series, it’s because they are; indeed, as a Professor at the University of Edinburgh Business School, Quattrone himself may seem an unlikely choice. The majority of past speakers have had their feet firmly planted in the field of humanistic studies; however, Quattrone (who, incidentally, also holds the position of Dean of Special Projects at the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences) has produced research that realises the connections between our respective disciplines. From the beginning of the seminar, Quattrone connected the dots between business and humanistic studies by drawing attention to the importance of etymology in realising the link between rhetoric and accounting. The etymology of the word ‘inventory,’ for example, comes from the Latin inventio, the first of the five canons of rhetoric. This type of interdisciplinary enquiry is exactly the kind of research welcomed by book historians and exemplified by the field of the History of the Book as a whole.