Digital Bibliography

November 28, 2012


The latest issue of Library Review presents, as editor Judith Broady-Preston writes, “a range of papers from the best of the current crop of postgraduates, based on their theses and dissertations, showcasing the work of new entrants to the profession and providing readable access to cutting edge research.”

Alongside papers from City University, Loughborough, Ottawa and others, we have a calling card for the kind of research alumni of the Historical Bibliography module (INSTG012) are producing. As Elizabeth McCarthy, Sarah Wheale and I put it in our article, such work “exists at the nexus of three disciplines: librarianship, bibliography and digital humanities (utilising computing in the pursuit of humanities research” (p. 562) and, I would argue, is at the forefront of the nascent field of Digital Bibliography – the utilisation of Digital Humanities techniques within the older discipline of Bibliography. In my chapter in the recently published Digital Humanities in PracticeI discuss the use of technology by bibliographers and rare books librarians, and the two case studies in the chapter – by H.R. Woudhuysen and Marieke Van Delft – are available online.

The current paper, ‘Early Modern Oxford Bindings in Twenty-first Century Markup‘ is based on Elizabeth McCarthy’s MA LIS dissertation research, and, we hope, represents an appropriate balance between the technical skills required to enhance 17th century binders’ records with TEI and the bibliographic and subject knowledge necessary to appreciate the value of the pilot study Liz conducted within the wider context of bindings research and library collection management in the early modern period. Our presentation of the significance to the Bodleian of the manuscript Binders Book that is the object at the centre of the work was enhanced by Rare Books Curator Sarah Wheale’s contribution. As a lecturer, I hope that our assertion is true, that the project provides “an example of the kind of work that can be undertaken by library employees as part of their graduate studies, which allows for innovation and the incorporation of new research methodologies within traditional library projects.” (p. 562).  Certainly, in the case of the Binders Book in TEI,

The researcher [Liz] was able to step outside the constraints of an existing library management system and encoding standard (MARC) and think about the scholarly concerns of analytical and descriptive bibliography: how could the entries in the BB best be represented? She was able to consider specialist users with an interest in Oxford bindings, and to build a resource with their needs in mind … (p. 573).

Melissa Terras has written elsewhere about the choices academics make when they decide to co-author a paper with a student or former student, and the inherent ethical considerations – principally the contribution that the academic makes to the work. This article not only is a terrific achievement on Liz’s part, but also the first of a little clutch of publications – some solo-authored and a couple written with Hist Bib alumni during or after their time studying at UCL – that sets out my wares as a Digital Bibliographer and a supervisor of Digital Bibliographers. As such, I’m delighted that Liz’s MA LIS research is first out of the publication box; that it’s representing UCL in Library Review‘s issue ‘Showcasing Postgraduate Research’; and that it’s come out right in the middle of our recruitment season for the MA LIS and MA DH. Students and prospective students with an interest in cataloguing need not worry, though, cataloguing research and supervision is, and will always be, equally core to my practice.

I’ll link through to Liz’s own blog on the article when it goes live, and, for those of you without online access to Library Review, copies of the authors’ final text will be available as soon as is possible (and legal) on the Oxford and UCL institutional repositories.


Broady-Preston, J. (2012). Showcasing postgraduate research. Library Review. 61 (8/9). Full-text available at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?issn=0024-2535&volume=61&issue=8&articleid=17065501&show=html

McCarthy, E., Welsh, A., & Wheale, S. (2012). Early modern Oxford bindings in twenty-first century markup. Library Review, 61 (8/9), 561-576 .DOI: 10.1108/00242531211292079

Terras, M. (2011). Computer games and author lists. Melissa Terras’s Blog, 25 November 2011. Available at http://melissaterras.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/computer-games-and-author-lists.html

Van Delft, M. (2012). Case study: Watermarks in paper: four related online projects. In C. Warwick, M. Terras, & J. Nyhan (Eds.), Digital Humanities in practice. London: Facet. Full-text available at http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/dh-in-practice/chapter-7/

Welsh, A. (2012). Historical Bibliography in the digital world. In C. Warwick, M. Terras, & J. Nyhan (Eds.), Digital Humanities in practice (pp. 139-165). London: Facet. Retrieved from http://www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=7661

Woudhuysen, H.R. (2012). Case study: The Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts, 1450-1700. In C. Warwick, M. Terras, & J. Nyhan (Eds.), Digital Humanities in practice. London: Facet. Full-text available at http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/dh-in-practice/chapter-7/

One comment

  1. […] One of these dissertations was further developed into an article. The Bodleian’s Binders’ Book is just one of the many a manuscript resources that record library practices in the Early Modern period. Such manuscripts have local interest within the city but an obvious significance in library history more widely. […]

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