The 64th Annual Meeting of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia was called to order by President G. Thomas Tanselle at 4:05 p.m. on Friday, March 18, 2011, in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library. Mr. Tanselle noted with pleasure that the meeting is again an event of the Virginia Festival of the Book. The Society’s affairs have gone smoothly over the past year, Mr. Tanselle said; details about the Society’s activities appeared in his Annual Letter, copies of which were available at the back of the meeting room. The most noteworthy event since the last meeting, he announced, was the publication of vol. 58 of Studies in Bibliography. Like its predecessors, it contains important articles on textual criticism, printing and publication history, and analytical bibliography. Mr. Tanselle expressed gratitude to the editor of Studies, Professor David Vander Meulen, for his knowledge and judgment, and to Editorial Assistant Elizabeth Lynch for the remarkable care she took with each article. Prof. Vander Meulen and Ms. Lynch also oversee the Society’s electronic publications, ensuring that these meet the same high standards as the print publications.
The Society’s next electronic publication, Mr. Tanselle announced, will be a work of exemplary scholarship, Gordon Neaville’s bibliography of Modern Library editions.
Very soon, the Society’s website will be moving to a new URL—bsuva.org. Mr. Tanselle thanked Elizabeth Lynch and Anne Ribble for their work on the new site.
The Minutes from last year’s meeting, printed on the reverse of the agenda, were accepted as circulated, subject to any corrections reported to the Secretary-Treasurer.
Since the President is himself the Council member up for re-election this year, he asked Ms. Ribble, the Secretary-Treasurer, to conduct the election. Mr. Tanselle was elected unanimously to a term ending in 2018.
Ms. Ribble reported that the Society currently has 350 members as well as 64 standing orders with the University of Virginia Press. In addition, the Society participates in the Journal Donation Project, providing complimentary subscriptions to Studies to eleven libraries in developing countries. Income this fiscal year-to-date was $34,636. Expenses over the same period were $33,427. The current balance of available funds is $194,431.
The President thanked Ms. Ribble for her work over the past year. He reported that, at the Council meeting previous to this meeting, all the Society’s officers had been re-elected for another year. He expressed deep appreciation to all the members of the Council, Ruthe Battestin, Terry Belanger, Nicole Bouché, David Vander Meulen, David Seaman, and Karin Wittenborg.
Mr. Tanselle then introduced the speaker, Nicole Bouché, Director of Special Collections at the University of Virginia since October 2009, highlighting her extensive experience in Special Collections at the University of Washington, the Bancroft Library at UCLA, and the Beinecke at Yale University.
Ms. Bouché began by announcing that her speech would be departing from the advertised title and could more appropriately be called “From Treasure Room to Learning Lab.” She contrasted the tradition of academic special collections libraries as repositories of valuable materials available to an exclusive few with the current vision of the library as a service point making valuable materials available to a much wider audience. The advent of Google Books in 2004 was really the tipping point, she noted. The user community now expects research-worthy content to be available on the web in digitized form. Balancing the need for this service with the importance of preserving the original valuable materials is the challenge facing rare book libraries today. Ms. Bouché offered some thoughts on how to approach the challenge.
- Be smart about collecting, emphasizing quality over quantity.
- Be good stewards of the artifacts.
- Take on more of a teaching role, offering instruction in research methods and skills.
The Special Collections Library at UVa, she assured her audience, is well situated to face the challenge, building on its extraordinarily rich collection and utilizing the resources of the Harrison Institute and Rare Book School.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:45. A reception in the Rare Book School rooms in Alderman Library followed the talk.