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The USTC at the York Book Fair

Stand at the York Book Fair

By Jessica Dalton |

In September, the Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC) exhibited for the first time at the Provincial Book Fairs Association York Fair: the largest antiquarian book fair in the UK.  Over the course of two days, book dealers, collectors and librarians from all over the country visited the bustling event at the York Racecourse, where more than 220 dealers exhibited their stock. At the fair enthusiasts for early modern printing were tempted by a striking variety of items, from an early Index of Prohibited Books, to a seventeenth-century guide on making coloured glass, to an incunable edition of Albertus Magnus’ Compendium theologicae veritatis.

Demonstration at the York Book Fair
A demonstration of the new version of the USTC, soon to be released.

A great many were also tempted into a demonstration of the USTC and an introduction to the Preserving the World’s Rarest Books programme by Dr Graeme Kempe, Dr Drew Thomas and Dr Jessica Dalton, who represented the project at the fair. Visitors to our stand were particularly excited to see demonstrations of the new version of the USTC, which offers unique visualisations that reveal the publishing history of a particular work or author. With comprehensive listings of institutional copies and facets that allow users to search by format as well as author and title, the USTC offers bookdealers a free resource that allows them to discover the rarity of their stock and the publishing context in which they were produced with one simple search. As a former rare book cataloguer, I was particularly excited to share this potent tool with members of the trade, many of whom were astonished at the USTC’s analytical power and easy-to-use interface.

As well as winning new users for the database, the USTC team at the fair were also visited by book dealers who had started using the database after having a demonstration from the USTC team at the ABA Book Fair in London during the summer.