Private libraries and private library inventories, 1665 – 1830

Scientific meeting

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Begins on: Thursday 17 January 2019.
Ends on: Saturday 19 January 2019.
Location: Nijmegen
Related institutions: Radboud University Nijmegen
Book historians have long acknowledged the importance of private book lists and library inventories as a source to study book ownership and print culture before the advent of public libraries and mechanized book production in the nineteenth century. Private libraries often fulfilled essential functions within reading communities, through family and professional networks, and through other networks of informal, interpersonal book lending. In some cases, private libraries laid the foundations for later, public institutions providing access to books. Despite the bourgeoning of case studies focusing on multiple aspects of private book ownership, and on specific collectors and their libraries, scholarship is still hampered by the lack of overviews of the source material: private library inventories. These include a broad range of materials, from printed library sales catalogues to probate inventories and manuscript inventories for domestic use. Even for the most well-documented of these sources, auction catalogues, it is however impossible to provide plausible estimates of the extant numbers today. Private inventories can be found in archives, libraries, and other institutions in Europe and beyond. Many of these are located well beyond their original place of production, making it essential to approach any overview from a transnational perspective. The available resources are sometimes fragmentary, dispersed or difficult to access.
Related keywords: ancient libraries