Here’s the (draft) abstract:
This research project examines how the library building accommodates books and how the library catalogue allows the management and use of those books; all in the context of the great increase in book numbers after the establishment of printing with moveable type in Europe from about the year 1500. The following subjects are studied in particular: furniture for storing books, how this is laid out and how it develops; the intellectual and practical concerns behind the development of the library catalogue; the design of library buildings, particularly internally, to house, provide, and preserve increasing numbers of books; the intellectual changes brought to the catalogue by physical developments, such as paper slips, cards, and computerisation; the era of the remote library warehouse, accessed only indirectly. Examples are sought throughout Western Europe and North America, with particular attention paid to two of the UK’s legal-deposit libraries, the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford, and the British Library. The project finds that these institutions anticipate a reduction in the number of printed books and other matter that they must ingest but are unable to reliably predict when this will occur and have subsequently planned for a short- and medium-term of continuing growth.
That’s about five months of reading/note-taking/thinking and seven weeks of writing (part-time), coming to about 22,000 words for the main chapters (excluding intros, appendices, etc.).
I look forward to being able to publish it here in the new year, for anyone who is interested. Having said that, my line manager at work told me I was writing the most boring dissertation imaginable; but she’s always ready with the joke.