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IMC 2015: Sessions

Session 1199: Special Session: Secrets of Early Printed Books - The Leeds Incunabula Revealed

Wednesday 8 July 2015, 13.00-14.00

Sponsor:Leeds University Library
Introduction:Katy Thornton, Special Collections, Leeds University Library
Speaker:Rhiannon M. Lawrence-Francis, Special Collections, Leeds University Library

This session will focus on the earliest printed books kept in Special Collections at the University of Leeds.

Leeds University Library has over 300 incunabula, that is, books printed in Europe before 1501. The majority of the incunabula in the collection were acquired by Lord Brotherton of Wakefield, the library’s greatest benefactor, and another 40 items are on deposit from Ripon Cathedral Library.

Last year Rhiannon worked on a project to enrich the existing catalogue records for the incunabula. The records now include details of any decorations and annotations to the text, notes on previous owners, and a full description of the binding. The project has given a greater insight into Lord Brotherton’s collecting strategy - he and his librarians wanted to build a representative collection of high-quality items that would illustrate both the geographical range of early European printing and the variety of subject matter with which early printers and publishers were concerned.

The talk will offer an overview of the collection, looking in particular at what makes the copies of these books at Leeds unique. Afterwards there will be an opportunity to look at items from the collection in more detail. Due to space restrictions this talk is limited to 30 participants, and admission will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Early arrival is therefore strongly recommended.

Special Collections houses over 200,000 rare books and seven kilometres (4.3 miles) of manuscripts and archives, including the celebrated Brotherton Collection, the Melsteth Icelandic Collection, the Archives of the Dean & Chapter of Ripon, the Roth Collection, and the Oriental Manuscript Collection

The Reading Room of Special Collections is open from 09.00-18.00 during the Congress week, and IMC delegates are welcome to pursue their research and explore the collection. More details can be found at