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This pathfinder provides a general introduction to print resources, Internet resources, and associations relating to the history of books and printing. By nature this a very broad field, spanning many differing time periods and book forms. This is, therefore, intended primarily as a starting point for research in aspects of book history from the beginnings of writing through the present, and is not to be considered indicative of the full range of information available on any given aspect. Resources are also provided for those interested in finding out about their own rare or antiquated books or personal book collecting on the Internet.
There are many good print resources on the history of books and printing, including both general surveys and specialized works regarding such topics as medieval manuscripts, early printed books, nineteenth-century works, and so forth.
Searching and Call NumbersWhen searching library catalogs, use the following Library of Congress subject headings:
In libraries where books are shelved according to Library of Congress call numbers, books relating to aspects of book history will generally be within Z4-Z659, ND2889-ND3416, and NE1-NE3002. Dewey Decimal call numbers are difficult to pin down for this subject area; they may begin with 002 (The book), 070 (News media, journalism, publishing), 090 (Manuscripts and rare books), 655 (unassigned), 686 (Printing and related activities), 745 (Decorative arts), or the 800s (Literature of specific regions).
Another searching tool to keep in mind is the use of online bookstores such as Amazon.com. A search of their bookstore site for "history of books and printing," or "illuminated manuscripts," for example, brings up hundreds of books, often with descriptions, reviews, and recommendations for other books on similar topics.
A very good bibliography of general surveys, as well as specialized topics such as antiquity, the medieval period, and the invention and spread of printing, has been compiled by the New York Public Library, and is available online:
NYPL Bibliography of Print Resources on the History of Books and Printing (http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/grd/resguides/bookhist/)
Recommended surveys for one just getting started include:
Daniel Traister's Home Page—History of Books and Printing (http://www.english.upenn.edu/~traister/hbp.html)
Yahoo Directory: History of Books and Printing (http://dir.yahoo.com/Arts/Humanities/Literature/History_of_Books_and_Printing)
"Manuscripts, Books, and Maps: The Printing Press and a Changing World"
Book History Timetable (http://www.xs4all.nl/~knops/timetab.html)
Your Old Books (http://www.rbms.info/yob.shtml)
About Directory: Book Collecting (http://collectbooks.about.com/)
Treasures from Europe's National Libraries (http://portico.bl.uk/gabriel/treasures/entree.html)
The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing maintains a listserv dedicated to the discussion of issues relating to the history of the printed word. Subscription information and a searchable archives of past postings are available at http://www.indiana.edu/~sharp/sharp-l.html
The Rare Book and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association maintains a listserv for discussion of issues relating to rare book and manuscript librarianship. In addition to librarians, students, scholars, and rare book dealers are members, and discussion often pertains to issues of book history in general. Subscription information and a searchable archives of past postings are available at http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byform/mailing-lists/exlibris/
The American Printing History Association (APHA) (http://www.printinghistory.org/)
The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (http://abaa.org/)
The International Book Collectors Association (http://www.rarebooks.org/)
The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing— SHARPWeb (http://www.sharpweb.org/)
This pathfinder created by Riva Pollard
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