The Biblio File Hosted by Nigel Beale
Twenty - forty minute interviews with accomplished authors, publishers, biblio people, conducted by an excitable bibliophile.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Special Collections Library houses unique, rare, and specialized research material that documents the history, culture and physical environment of the city of Las Vegas, the Southern Nevada region, the gaming industry, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

The collections include books, pamphlets, posters, serials and periodicals, scrapbooks, archives and manuscripts, maps, architectural drawings, photographs, video and audio tapes.

I visited the library recently to talk gambling with former director now Head of Exhibits Peter Michel, for it's here that you'll find "the world's greatest collection of material on gambling and related issues, including books, journals, company documents, and manuscript collections."

Direct download: Peter_Michel_Univ_Nevada_130618_001.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 9:45pm EDT

Terry Cook received a Ph.D. in Canadian History from Queen's University, 1977. From 1975 to 1998, he worked at the then Public, later National, Archives of Canada, leaving as the senior manager responsible for directing the appraisal and records disposition program for all media. In his long and distinguished career there, he was responsible for the development of policies and methodologies which dramatically altered the national archival system.

In 1998, he founded Clio Consulting Inc., and since then has worked for national, municipal, and academic archives, as well as archival associations, around the world. He also took on the position  of Associate Professor for the Archival Studies Program in the Department of History at the University of Manitoba.

He has authored over 80 articles which have been published in Archivaria (two of his contributions being awarded the W. Kay Lamb Prize) and other leading archival journals.  He is the author of The Archival Appraisal of Records Containing Personal Information: A RAMP Study With Guidelines (1991) and co-editor of Imagining Archives: Essays and Reflections by Hugh A. Taylor (2003).

He has also contributed to the archival community greatly in his editing of scholarly journals and his participation in various professional associations.

We met recently in Ottawa to discuss the cuts to, and neglect of, Library and Archives Canada. Among other things we talk about the challenges facing all libraries and archives, conflicting mandates, the differences between born and made digital material,  the importance of source documents, and the current absence of any 'real' exhibition programming at LAC.

Direct download: Terry_Cook_LAC_ZOOM0001_3.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 8:50am EDT

A small college cannot hope to have a large library, but if it sets to work along the right lines it may aspire to the possession of a fine one… A book may be a thing of beauty, and an example of a great craft which we must not allow to die. The means of craft and the aspiration toward beauty live on in our College library.

— Robertson Davies, the Founding Master

Since its inception in 1963, the Library at Massey College has developed special collections in the History of the Book as well as supporting a working nineteenth-century hand printing shop.

The holdings of books and manuscripts include material on the history of printing,

from here.

papermaking, bookbinding, palaeography, calligraphy, type design, book collecting, and bibliography. The examples of book production range from the fifteenth century to the present, with a particular strength in nineteenth century colour printing and publishers' bookbindings represented in the Ruari McLean Collection. The collections also include the papers of Canadian graphic designer Carl Dair. In 1981, the Library was named for the Founding Master of the College, Robertson Davies, and contains editions and translations of his writings.

Marie Korey is Librarian at The Robertson Davies Library, and a scholar of the history of the book. We met recently to talk about collecting books in this field. I assumed the role of a rich (difficult) book collector (easy) with a passion for books about books (very easy) who had retained Marie with the goal of acquiring the best of the best possible books and materials related to the development of the book. Please listen here:

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p.s. Here is a list of some of the 'essential' books mentioned by Marie:

Bury, Richard de (1287-1345) Bishop of Durham, wrote “Philibiblon” which survives in many manuscript copies as well as printed editions.
“Dialogue” on Calligraphy and Printing in the sixteenth century, attributed to Christopher Plantin; this contains one of the earliest descriptions of typefounding. There was a facsimile done, with an English translation by Ray Nash published in 1964 under the title: Calligraphy & Printing in the sixteenthe century. Dialogue attributed to Christopher Plantin. 
Moxon, Joseph (1627-91), hydrographer, instrument maker, author and printer. He began publishing his “Mechanick Exercises” in monthly parts in 1677; the second volume, issued in 1683-84, was devoted to printing and type-founding. It is the first comprehensive manual on the subject in any language.
Bosse, Abraham. Traicté des manieres de graver en taille douce. Paris, 1645. Early manual on copperplate engraving.
Senefelder, Alois. A complete course of lithography. London: Printed for R. Ackerman, 1819.
Direct download: Marie_Korey_History_of_the_Book1.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 10:52am EDT

Richard Landon is Director of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and Professor of English. He has taught courses on aspects of the history of the book and bibliography for many years in the University of Toronto’s Graduate Department of English and the Faculty of Information. Among his recent publications are Bibliophilia Scholastica Floreat (2005), Ars Medica (2006), ‘Two Collectors: Thomas Grenville and Lord Amherst of Hackney’ in Commonwealth of Books (2007), ‘The Elixir of Life: Richard Garnett, the British Museum Library, and Literary London’ in Literary Cultures and the Material Book (2007), and articles in the History of the Book In Canada (2004-2007).

We met recently in his office

to talk about his career, the role of a rare books librarian, the Encyclopédie, changes that have occurred in the market place, collecting as scholarship, Charles Darwin, Galileo, Copernicus, the future of the Thomas Fisher collection, ebooks, books about books, unpublished medieval texts and limitless collecting possibilities. Please listen here:

Direct download: Richard_Landon_111307-094033.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 3:59pm EDT

John Bid­well is Astor Cur­ator of Prin­ted Books and Bind­ings at thePier­pont Mor­gan Lib­rary, before which he was Cur­ator of Graphic Arts in the Prin­ceton Uni­ver­sity Lib­rary. He has writ­ten extens­ively on the his­tory of paper­mak­ing in Eng­land and America. 

The Prin­ted Books and Bind­ings col­lec­tion at the Mor­gan con­tains works span­ning West­ern book pro­duc­tion from the earli­est prin­ted eph­em­era to import­ant first edi­tions from the twen­ti­eth cen­tury. Hold­ings encom­pass a large num­ber of high points in the his­tory of print­ing, often exem­pli­fied by a lone sur­viv­ing copy or a copy that is per­fect in every way. Areas of strength include incun­ables, early children’s books, fine bind­ings, and illus­trated books. 

Yolande de Sois­sons in Prayer
“Psalter-Hours of Yolande de Sois­sons”
France, Ami­ens, ca. 1280–90
MS M.729, fol. 232v
Pur­chased by J. P. Mor­gan, Jr., 1927

The col­lec­tion is foun­ded upon acquis­i­tions of Pier­pont Mor­gan, who sought to estab­lish in the United States a lib­rary worthy of the great European col­lec­tions. Among the high­lights are three Guten­berg Bibles, works by Lord Byron, Charles Dick­ens, Edgar Allan Poe, John Ruskin, Mark Twain, Her­man Melville, and Wil­liam Mor­ris, and clas­sic early children’s books. The Carter Bur­den Col­lec­tion of Amer­ican Lit­er­at­ure, a major 1998 gift, strengthens the Morgan’s twentieth-century hold­ings with authors such as Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Vladi­mir Nabokov, Ger­trude Stein, and Ten­nessee Williams. 

I talk here with John Bid­well about the col­lec­tion, what it con­tains, how it was acquired.

 Copy­right © 2009 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: John_Bidwell_Morgan.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 8:13pm EDT

I was in Chicago recently and met with Keith Michael Fiels, Executive Director (since July 2002) of the American Library Association. According to  The ALA Constitution  the purpose of ALA is “…to promote library service and librarianship.” Stated mission is “To provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.” In 1998 the ALA Council voted commitment to five Key Action Areas as guiding principles for directing the Association’s energies and resources: Diversity, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and 21st Century Literacy. Subsequent strategic plans added to these: Advocacy for Libraries and the Profession, and Organizational Excellence. 

Keith and I talk here about, among other things, these principles, the benefits of belonging to the ALA, simple actions librarians can take to improve their libraries, the future of the book, the future of libraries, video games, copyright, digitization, the recent Google settlement, library fines, libraries as social centers, amalgamation of libraries and archives, access to databases and dead links, the importance of libraries as purchasers of non best-selling books, and the bounce-back of literary reading.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Keith_Fiels_ALA.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 10:06am EDT

Rosemary Furtak has been librarian at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis for 25 year. She is co-curator of ‘Text Messages’, an exhibit on artist’s books currently showing (until April 2009) at the Center. We talk here about her early championing of the artist book genre (her definition being: "a book that refuses to behave like a book (like the 35,000 books that sit in the stacks"), the line between books and art, and words and art, and librarians and curators…and how to go about collecting artist books. We talk too about the challenges of cataloguing artist Ed Ruscha’s 26 Gasoline Stations,

about the prolific and surprising Dieter Roth, inexpensive materials and Richard Tuttle, and Lawrence Weiner, his Statements and his art making process. The works of these four are highlighted in the exhibition.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Rosemary_Furtak.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 11:19am EDT


Bruno Racine was appointed President of the National Library of France on April 2 2007. Over the years he has held many senior postions within the French government including: Director General Cultural Affairs for the City of Paris (1988-1993), Director of l’Académie de France à Rome (1997-2002), and Chairman du Centre Pompidou (2002-2007). He is also a writer. Non-fiction books include his best selling: Art of living in Rome and Art of living in Tuscany. His novel the Governor of Morée (Grasset) won France’s First Novel Prize in 1982.

We talk here about the role of a national library, about scanning and digitization, Google, the Lyon library (France’s second largest), Europeana, the value added offered by Librarians, Canada’s amalgamation of its National Archives and Library, the unlikelihood that France will follow suit, public servant novelists, Stendhal, and failure and success in careers and love.

Direct download: Bruno_Racine_National_Library_of_France.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 11:44am EDT


Derick Dreher has been the Director of the Rosenbach since 1998. He has an M.A. in the History of Art from Yale University,and is a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton. A Fulbright scholar, he was awarded a Kress International Research Fellowship, for research in Germany. A specialist in graphic arts of the Renaissance, he has published on a variety of subjects, including prints and drawings ranging from Dürer to Daumier, and has spoken internationally on drawings, rare books, libraries and the art of memory.

We met recently at the Museum on a rainy Philadelphia morning to talk about the life, loves and business practices of celebrated bookseller and collector 'Doctor'  Abraham Simon Wolf Rosenbach, who got his PhD. in 1901, and subsequently went into business with his older ambitious Anglophilic brother Philip who sold fine and decorative arts. The Doctor was bent on selling books and manuscripts. We examine his ability to turn  customers  into collectors, to build libraries, to serve as an advisor not a dealer; his first great customer, street car magnate Harry Widener, who went down with the Titanic; what $100,000 bought in 1912, the Doctor's relationship with the Huntingtons and Folgers, his brilliant, ruthless book buying and selling practices, his skill at manipulating prices and the media,  the manuscript of Alice in Wonderland, making private collections public, the Museum's 333,000 odd documents, the manuscript of James Joyce's Ulysses, bought at auction for the reserve price,  Stoker's notes for Dracula, Conrad's manuscripts, tours as appetizers,  the correspondence and physical library of Marianne Moore, and Maurice Sendak as a bridge to the museum's entire collection.  

Please listen here:

Direct download: Derick_Dreher_Rosenbach_Museum.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 9:10pm EDT

Bernard Margolis is President of the Boston Public Library (BPL). Founded in 1848, it was the first large free municipal library in the United States. Mr. Margolis has served on the Governing Council of the 63,000-member American Library Association (ALA), and has won many awards including “Colorado Librarian of the Year", two John Cotton Dana library public relations awards, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ “Award of Excellence? for his library-sponsored “Imagination Celebration."

He’s also a master storyteller as you’ll find out. We talk here about libraries as a public good, a culture of words and books designed to help everyone improve their lives, French ventriloquist and originator of the concept of the modern library Alexandre Vattemare (1796-1864), the U.S. as a leader in realizing this concept, immigration and self learning, an informed citizenry as the best defense of liberty, democratic access to information, BPL as the first to have a newspaper room, branch libraries and a separate children’s room, the Red Sox and the Yankees, why the ebook hasn’t replaced the paperback, Brewster Kahle versus Google and the Internet archive, and the question of whether or not information will be ‘free for all’ to improve the world.

Direct download: Bernard_Margolis_Boston_May_2007_32.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 1:09pm EDT