Breslauer Lectures

In 2004, the distinguished book dealer and collector Bernard H. Breslauer bequeathed a generous endowment to the ATBL for the acquisition of rare books.  To honor the memory of Dr. Breslauer, the ATBL has established a lecture series in his name.  This series has become an annual event in cooperation with The Grolier Club, a locus of serious bibliophiles and collectors.  With the British Library as their cornerstone, these lectures incorporate a transatlantic bibliophilic theme.

The following lectures have been published into booklets, available for purchase for $25 for non-members, and $12.50 for ATBL and Grolier Club members. Please email atblus[at]gmail.com or call 718-623-0933 to purchase a booklet.

  • 2014  Sarah E. Thomas, Transatlantic Perlustrations: Observations on Two Great Libraries, the Bodleian and the Harvard Library
  • 2011  Baroness Blackstone, From Bones to Bytes: The Development of our Great Libraries
  • 2010  Robert Darnton, The History of Books and the Digital Future
  • 2009  William J. Zachs, Re-Collecting Donald and Mary Hyde: Untold Stories from Their Private Archive
  • 2008  David Alan Richards, The Books He Left Behind: A New Bibliography of Rudyard Kipling
  • 2007  David J. Supino, Collecting Henry James: A Translatlantic Journey
  • 2006  Roger E. Stoddard, B.H.B. in Retrospect
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Lecture by Dr. Anthony Marx, CEO, NYPL

ATBL members and guests enjoyed our lecture by Dr. Anthony Marx, CEO, New York Public Library, on October 15, 2012 at the Grolier Club on “The Future of the New York Public Library.” Get prints and free downloads at www.kitkaplan.com/atbl

Tony Marks

Dr. Tony Marks of the New York Public Library

David Redden, Anthony Marx and Lansing Lamont

David Redden, Anthony Marx and Lansing Lamont

Asia Mernissi and Jeannette Redden

Asia Mernissi and Jeannette Redden

Leah Delany and Selby Kiffer

Leah Delany and Selby Kiffer

Sarah Frankland and Dyke Benjamin

Sarah Frankland and Dyke Benjamin

Caroline Rubinstein and Phillip Winegar

Caroline Rubinstein and Phillip Winegar

Lea Iselin and Paula Jennings

Lea Iselin and Paula Jennings

Guest, Mary Schlosser, Stephen Dimen and  Frederick Pattison

Guest, Mary Schlosser, Stephen Dimen and
Frederick Pattison

Guests talk with Baroness Tessa Blackstone of the British Library.

William Dean and Lansing Lamont

William Dean and Lansing Lamont

Guest, David Redden and Anthony Marx

Guest, David Redden and Anthony Marx

Dr. Marks with Tessa Blackstone

Lecture with Baroness Blackstone

ATBL’s Sixth Breslauer Lecture:
Baroness Blackstone on “Bones to Bytes”

“The bones I refer to are the oldest items in the British Library’s collection: 3,000-year-old Chinese oracle bones from the Shang period (ca. 1600 – 1050 B.C.E.). The bytes are units of digital information, now increasingly ubiquitous in library collections and posing challenges to us about how we collect, preserve, and provide access to the world’s knowledge in digital format, both now and in perpetuity.”

That was an excerpt from the sixth lecture in the Breslauer series, given by Baroness Blackstone at the Grolier Club on October 17, 2011.

Baroness Blackstone was appointed Chairman of the British Library in 2010. Prior to her appointment, she was named Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich. She is also a trustee of the Royal Opera House. In 1987 she was awarded a life peerage and sits on the Labor Party benches in the House of Lords. Her publications include Race Relations in Britain with Bhikhu Parekh and Peter Saunders (Routledge, 1997) and Disadvantage and Education with Jo Mortimore (Heinemann, 1982). She has broadcast and written extensively in the national media.

The American Trust and the Grolier Club are proud to present this lecture series. It reflects Americans’ high regard for the worldwide contributions and reputation of the British Library. A printed version of this lecture will be available in the spring.

Robert Darnton on The Future of Books

Robert Darnton Gives Fifth Breslauer Lecture at the Grolier Club

Robert Darnton

Robert Darnton

Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library at Harvard, gave the Fifth Annual Bernard Breslauer lecture at the Grolier Club in New York City on Mary 20th.

Bernard H. Breslauer was a distinguished book dealer, collector and longtime supporter of the British Library.  For many years he served on the Advisory Council of the American Trust.  As a token of his esteem for the Library, he bequeathed a magnificent sum of money to the American Trust for the conservation and acquisition of rare books.  The lecture series was named in his honor.

The title of Professor Darnton’s talk was “The History of Books and the Digital Future”, an intriguing and highly relevant topic, especially for libraries and librarians.  Excerpts from his talk appear in this newsletter and the entire talk will be printed as part of the Breslauer lecture series available for sale to ATBL and Grolier Club members.

Read Excerpts from Lecture

The History of Books and the Digital Future

A talk by Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library at Harvard, for the American Trust for the British Library given at The Grolier Club on May 20, 2010.

I am honored to participate in the Breslauer Lecture series and grateful for the opportunity to try out some ideas about the history of books and the future of publishing. Instead of speculating about what may eventually take place in cyberspace, I would like to wander back into the eighteenth century, report on some archival research, and argue my way around an apparent paradox: old books and e-books are not incompatible media located at opposite ends of publishing technology; they are natural allies, and they belong together in ways we are only beginning to imagine.

Thirty years ago, I set out to write a general study of the book trade in pre-revolutionary France.  I had been through so much material–50,000 letters in the papers of an important French-Swiss publisher, the Société typographique de Neuchâtel (STN), and thousands of other documents from the archives of the Book Trade Administration in Paris–that I could follow all the twists and turns of the book business in every corner of the kingdom.  But that was the problem: I had too much information…. Then along came the Internet.  I saw the possibility of writing a new kind of book–in part a conventional narrative, which would be printed in the normal way; in part a collection of monographs and documents, which could be accessed through the Internet….

The printed version of the book I have in mind will not go into every aspect of the subject in detail.  I will write a chapter on smuggling, a chapter on the struggle for survival among booksellers in Marseilles, and a chapter on piracy, along with similar case studies.  In the electronic version, I will provide a large amount of complementary material for each chapter, arranged (conceptually, not electronically) in the shape of a pyramid.  The printed text will be the apex of the pyramid.  Thus, for example, readers of the printed book who want to find out more about smuggling, can log on to the electronic version, select the chapter from a menu, click down one level, and take their pick of short monographs about Faivre, Revol, Pion, and a half-dozen other professional smugglers.  If those short narratives excite more interest, the readers can click down to level three and read through selections from the smugglers’ correspondence translated into English.  Really serious readers can pursue the trail deeper down to level four, where I will provide transcriptions of entire dossiers in the original French.  Transcriptions are invariably imperfect, however, owing to ambiguities in the manuscripts; so specialized scholars can click down to level five and study digitized versions of the originals.  This kind of book will require a new kind of reading, one that proceeds vertically as well as horizontally.  It could also involve diagonal zig-zagging, because I plan to intersperse each sector with maps, contemporary engravings of mountain passes, scenes of city streets, accounts of life in country inns, information about horses, and hyperlinks to related themes in other dossiers.  Each reader will find his or her own path through the material.  Each will print out the parts that he or she finds most interesting.  Each print-out can be trimmed and bound in a matter of minutes, thanks to technological advances in what is already a major industry: Print-on-Demand, with printers linked to binders in dispensers like ATM machines.  The result should be an endless supply of custom-made paperbacks, every one different from all the others.  E-books of this kind will transform the relationship between writers and readers.  Readers will become collaborators, or even adversaries, of the scholars who provide the components of each book.  Although the material will conform to strict, academic standards, everyone can make of it what they want.  There will be no fixed text and no limits, aside from built-in guarantees against falsifying the documents, to the empowerment of the readers.
By now you may suspect me of succumbing to a futuristic notion of utopia.  You may have many objections to what I have proposed.  I know it has flaws, and I shudder at the prospect of becoming entangled in the World Wide Web.  But whether or not I succeed in this particular task, I hope I have said enough to convince you that old books and e-books are not enemies.  They are allies.  We need to strengthen the ties between them and among all modes of communication, not merely for the purpose of expanding the range of technology but in order to democratize access to information in a Republic of Learning, open to everyone everywhere.

2nd Breslauer Lecture Focuses on Henry James

David Supino at Grolier ClubDavid Supino at Grolier ClubDavid Supino, a major American collector of the works of Henry James, the eminent 19th-century U.S. author and philosopher, delivered the ATBL’s second annual Bernard Breslauer lecture last May in New York.Mr. Supino, a retired career lawyer and banker, has published an important new bibliography on Henry James, the prolific author of Daisy Miller, The Europeans, and a host of other novels and biographies. James became a naturalized British citizen in 1915.

Supino, who was born in Paris, and educated at Harvard and Yale, is a member of New York’s prestigious Grolier Club. He began collecting the works of obscure 18th-century poets, shifted his interest to Dickens, Thackeray and Trollope, before finally settling on Henry James.His current project, begun in the 1990s, is to catalogue all the James editions published in England, the U.S. and continental Europe from 1875 to 1921.

Supino’s lecture, “ Collecting Henry James: A Transatlantic Adventure,” was given on May 23rd before a packed house at the Grolier Club. It is being published in book form and will be available through the American Trust.

NOTE: The inaugural Breslauer lecture “Bernard H. Breslauer in Retrospect,” delivered by Dr. Roger E. Stoddard, long-time curator of Rare Books for Harvard’s Houghton Library and friend of Mr. Breslauer, is now available for sale at $25.00 plus shipping and handling. Please contact ATBL’s Executive Director, Seana Anderson, to order.

1st Inaugural Breslauer Lecture Honors ATBL Benefactor

The late Bernard H. Breslauer, who bequeathed a magnificent sum to the American Trust for the acquisition of rare books for the British Library, was memorialized last year at the opening lecture of the series names for him. Roger E. Stoddard, longtime curator of Rare Books for Harvard’s Houghton Library, delivered the inaugural lecture. Dr. Stoddard recalled his long personal and professional friendship with Mr. Breslauer, one of America’s most distinguished book collectors. Dr. Stoddards’s talk, a learned discourse on “Bernard H. Breslauer in Retrospect,” drew a large and appreciative crow to New York’s Grolier Club.