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ILAB Symposium 2022

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14 September 2022

ILAB has great pleasure in hosting another symposium examining issues affecting the world of antiquarian books today. Following the very successful symposium held at the Grolier Club in New York in 2019, we gather in the great city of books and learning, Oxford. We are very grateful to the Bodleian Library for allowing us to host the 2022 symposium at the Weston Library Lecture Hall.

A diverse and very knowledgeable group of booksellers, collectors, government representatives, librarians and law enforcement officers have agreed to share their views on some of the complex and challenging issues faced by those working with antiquarian books and related materials today.

We look forward to welcoming all interested in antiquarian books to this important day of discussion - but please book early as places are limited.


Tickets at GBP25 are limited and subject to availability.
The ILAB Symposium will be held the day after the 2022 ILAB Congress; bookings are handled separately.
Please register your interest with the ILAB Office:

Sessions & Speakers

Session 1: Where do books belong? Competition & Cooperation between Private and Institutional Collecting

Many institutional libraries have been able to add a great number of rare books and manuscripts to their collections over the past few decades in particular. At the same time, a number of important historic materials have joined the private collections of influential collectors. Depending on the specific contexts of acquisition, these developments raise a number of questions about the roles of private collectors and institutions – and the interactions between them – in the ecosystem of the wider book world.

Should all historically important materials be accessible to scholars? Is it in the best interests of society if donations to institutional libraries are encouraged by tax incentives? Should unique and historically important books and manuscripts remain in (or return to) their country of origin? How does the competition for the most valuable items at the top of the rare book market shape the present and future of book collecting? How can (or should) private collectors and libraries work together? These and other questions will be discussed by four panellists who bring international perspectives and varied experiences to these themes.

Dr. Christopher Fletcher, Keeper of Special Collections, Bodleian Library, UK
Dr. Anke Timmermann FLS, Type & Forme Rare Books & Manuscripts, Grantham, UK
Patrick Olson, Patrick Olson Rare Books, US
Dr. William Zachs, Antiquary

Chair: Stuart Bennett, ILAB General Secretary and Stuart Bennett Rare Books, US

Session 2: Changes & Challenges: Navigating the tricky waters of the international movement of antiquarian books in the 2020s

Antiquarian booksellers but also librarians and private collectors experience the consequences of increasingly tight legal restrictions by the various jurisdictions of their home countries, the European Union, post-Brexit UK, UNESCO and further. How can the trade petition for a balanced approach by governments in order to allow antiquarian booksellers (and in parts the art trade) to trade internationally and at the same time respect governments' proposals to preserve and protect cultural goods?

This session will see a discussion between arts market and government representatives as well as rare booksellers presenting practical case studies, discussing the implications of various policies and directives recently imposed on the trade.

Ivan Macquisten, ImacQ, UK: Commentator, analyst, and campaigner in the international art market
Mario Giupponi, ILAB Vice-President and Studio Benacense, Italy
Andrew Gaub, Bruce McKittrick Rare Books, US
Pierre-Jean Riamond, Head of Special Collections Department at the Book and Reading Service, French Ministry of Culture, Paris, France

Chair: Sally Burdon, ILAB President and Asia Bookroom Canberra, Australia

Session 3: Collaboration, Communication, Transparency: Security affects all

The rare book trade as well as libraries and private customers are equally concerned about a safe environment in which to trade, buy and protect antiquarian books and related material.

Case studies from the Metropolitan Police London and Cambridge University Library have demonstrated how joint efforts of the trade, libraries and law enforcement can lead to successful recoveries of missing books; how to overcome stigma when reporting missing material and how to work with the international network of ILAB-affiliated booksellers to disseminate information.

A further example of proactive work against trafficking of antiquarian material in the Middle East and Arab region initiated by the Qatar National Library will allow further insights into international security projects.

Dr. Andy Durham and David Ward, Detective Inspectors, Metropolitan Police London, UK: Presenting insights into the investigation that led to the successful recovery of the books and convictions in 2020 following the West London warehouse thefts in 2017
Dr. Jessica Gardner, University Librarian and Director of Library Services at University of Cambridge, UK: An international appeal by Cambridge University led to the return of the Darwin notebooks in April 2022
Stephane Ipert
, Director of the Heritage Library (Distinctive Collections) at Qatar National Library: Himaya: A regional program to counter trafficking of oriental manuscripts in the Arab region and the Middle East

Angus O’Neill, Omega Bookshop, UK and ILAB Security Officer and Angelika Elstner, ILAB Executive Secretary:
Presentation of the ILAB Missing Books Register

Chair: Angus O’Neill

Session 4: Awards Ceremony of the 18th Breslauer Prize for Bibliography 2022

The world's leading prize to honour outstanding work in the field of bibliography and book history, sponsored by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers with the generous support of the B. H. Breslauer Foundation and will be awarded on 14 September 2022 during the ILAB Symposium at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Introduction by Yann Sordet, Director of the Mazarine Library Paris and of the Institut de la France

Chair: Fabrizio Govi, Libreria Govi, Italy and ILAB Prize Secretary


Angelika Elstner
Weston Library (Bodleian Libraries) Lecture Hall
Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BG, United Kingdom
Heures d'Ouverture
Wednesday, 14 September 2022 from 10am - 5pm
Registration starts at 9.30am