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  • Kathleen Comerford

Summer 2019

I started this new phase of the Project by introducing you to the new student assistants, and they are currently at work, focusing on Instagram and on the Digital Commons archive. Meanwhile, I've been traveling some. I spent a week in Barcelona at the end of May, where I met with librarians at the EPEB (Library of the Episcopal Seminary of Barcelona) and the CRAI Biblioteca de Reserva (Rare Books and Manuscripts Library of the University of Barcelona). These two institutions welcomed me with open arms and took an interest in the EJLPP: the BPEB, because many of the books from the Catalan Jesuit colleges ended up in their collections, and the CRAI BR because they have their own provenance project. It's at http://www.bib.ub.edu/fileadmin/posseidors/cerca_eng.htm (in English; note also the Spanish and Catalan versions), and is so well done: you can search for former owners, and find full bibilographies of the books as well as some information on the owners, including membership in religious orders and links to the Gran enciclopèdia catalana.


Unfortunately, a week isn't very long, even if one is just beginning an association, but I thank the librarians at both institutions for their generosity and cooperation. I can't publish any new photos from my trip, in part because I got so involved in the card catalogue at CRAI that I didn't have time to photograph any provenance markings from real books. Their old card catalogue--what an addition to my database!--includes photographs from each title page. I wasn't able to tell anything about internal markings, but I examined half of the catalogue cards and am well on my way to understanding the collections from the colleges in Barcelona, Cervera, and Manresa. I look forward to my next trip there and to cooperate with CRAI in sharing information. As for BPEB: their energetic librarian not only showed me some of the books with Jesuit provenance, but took me on a tour of the stacks. I am so grateful for their help, as well as that of the librarians at the Biblioteca de Catalunya. The most important thing that my student assistants have given me is time: to pursue some ideas I have had while compiling data, to find more data, to expand the reach of the Project, and to explore some of the many possibilities this census offers. I've never envisioned it as something merely for me, and the time I spent in Barcelona helped energize me and get my creative juices flowing on several fronts. In addition, of course, having student assistants in this has been priceless for another reason: if I only talk with other library geeks, I don't really understand how to reach others who are interested in the book arts. I appreciate their fresh eyes, their interest in public history, and their ideas about appealing to a more general public with stories about the books, their authors, and--eventually--their readers. Let's hope we'll keep going strong!

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