Symposium: Meetings with Books: Raymond Klibansky, Special Collections and the Library in the 21st Century

“Meetings with Books: Raymond Klibansky, Special Collections and the Library in the 21st Century”

Many if not most rare book libraries have a long and complicated history of acquisitions that reflects the varied interests of collectors and benefactors, of librarians and scholars, and by happenstance and serendipity.  It is not just the individual titles that carry information; the histories of the collections do so as well and it is often in exploring these histories that new understandings are born.  How, then, are we to understand and explore these diverse and, indeed, disparate collections?  Furthermore, does the increasing use of digital technologies alter the way we need to discovery and to understand them?

The purpose of this one-day symposium is to begin this process of investigating the full and complex potential of these collections and the ways to do so.  This has to be a joint enterprise of scholars and librarians; it is only by working together that we can ask the questions and tell the stories that are to be found in rare book and special collection libraries.

Conference Keynote

Alberto Manguel, The Uses of Curiosity

Curiosity has an ambiguous reputation: on the one hand, it is viewed as a sinful emotion that leads into forbidden territories; on the other, as the necessary drive for discovery and learning. This talk will explore the roots of the paradox in Western thought and look at libraries’ Special Collections as one of the fruits of this double-edged desire.

Alberto Manguel is one of the world’s great writers and readers. He is a member of PEN, a Guggenheim Fellow, and an Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters. He has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Prix Médicis in essays for A History of Reading, and the McKitterick Prize for his novel News from a Foreign Country Came. Among his most recent books is The Library at Night, also published by Yale University Press. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages.  Manguel believes in the central importance of the book in societies of the written word where, in recent times, the intellectual act has lost most of its prestige. Libraries (the reservoirs of collective memory) should be our essential symbol, not banks.


The symposium agenda can be found here


RSVP is required and can be done by phone at 514.398.4681 or email at

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