Claimed from Stationers’ Hall: ‘Trifling’ Books of ‘Mere Amusement’


My research project has a name! If it looks rather obvious, then I’m pleased: I wanted it to be reasonably unambiguous. Since the whole point of legal deposit is to give a handful of long-established libraries gratuitous copies of everything published, I toyed with the idea of incorporating ‘free music’ in the name of the project, but decided against it – there were just too many ways this might be misconstrued!

Stationers Hall croppedMy initial focus is on the music claimed under copyright from Stationers’ Hall by the University of St Andrews between 1710-1836.  In the early nineteenth century, publishers were beginning to object to the university libraries’ claiming everything published, arguing that they were even claiming children’s books, novels and music. ‘Trifling’ material indeed, for institutions dedicated to learning law, philosophy and science!  Nonetheless, music was collected, and that’s the subject of my research.  Besides getting a thorough understanding of the collection’s history, I want to find out exactly what’s in it now, and to think about ways of encouraging reader engagement with this kind of material. Building upon research that was done in the pre-digital era, I hope also to be able to compare the present-day collection with comparable collections elsewhere.

My To-Do list got quite long when I started the project last Wednesday.  I now have lists of names and contacts, publications to read, and a new folder in my beloved Mendeley account – a cloud-based bibliographical tool in which I keep all my references.

‘TITLE FOR PROJECT’ was marked as URGENT.  Done!  I started a project page here on this blog, but because of the way WordPress pages work, I’ll blog ongoing research activities and discoveries here on the blog homepage, keeping the project page for building up a fairly logical story. (When there are changes to that page, I’ll flag it up here, so you only need to follow this blog and you won’t miss anything!)


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