Annotated Books in California Special Collections: An Exploratory Symposium

Friday, December 12, 2014
All Day

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

The symposium brings together historians, literary scholars, curators, catalogers, and heads of special collections libraries to discuss the special circumstances and issues posed by annotated books as cultural artifacts. The day’s program consists primarily of roundtable discussions on three key issues: describing and cataloging annotated books; digitizing annotated books; and using annotated books (in the classroom, in the archive, in scholarship).

The three conversations were punctuated by two informal talks on early modern manuscript annotation, given by Earle Havens (Curator at Johns Hopkins University) and Philip Palmer (CLIR Fellow at the Clark Library). One of the key concepts to emerge from the “Describing Annotated Books” session was the consensus that an exhaustive thesaurus or controlled vocabulary for describing manuscript annotations would be difficult to create and perhaps not entirely useful. Images of annotated books, however, are in high demand: participants emphasized that a single image can often tell them much more about the usefulness of an annotated book for their research than a detailed catalog record with no links to images. The digitization of 273 annotated books from the Clark Library, then, is a welcome resource for this representative group of scholars and librarians.