Des del campus
6. From campus
‘Delicacies’ at the UPF Library: Fifteen diverse and unique works, in the spotlight
Presenting a sample of diverse documents from the UPF Library’s catalogue, many acquired through donations and transfers. Whether because of their antiquity, the specific characteristics of the edition, distinctive elements they contain, or the fact that they represent milestones, all can be considered unique.
Although it is a young university, in the 33 years since it was founded, UPF has amassed a large and varied bibliographic collection, in all its various disciplines. It has done this with the main aim of serving and meeting the scientific information needs of its own users, but also of the scientific community and society at large.
This collection, which currently consists of nearly 607,000 monographs on paper and other physical media, nearly 140,000 electronic monographs, more than 11,800 print journals, and more than 91,000 electronic journals, also includes many unique works, that is, important documents that, in some cases, can even be considered one of a kind.
When can a work be considered ‘unique’? According to Montserrat Espinós, director of the UPF Library, it can happen for very different and varied reasons, which can sometimes overlap. ‘A document can be unique because of the date and characteristics of the edition, its antiquity, authorship, rarity, or illustrations; for its economic value (collector’s books); or because it contains a distinctive element, such as annotations or an autographed dedication by the author’, she explained.
‘A document can be unique because of the date and characteristics of the edition, its antiquity, authorship, rarity, or illustrations; for its economic value (collector’s books); or because it contains a distinctive element, such as annotations or an autographed dedication by the author’
For Espinós, another aspect that can make a document unique is if it represents a milestone for any number of reasons, whether for the UPF collection itself (e.g. the first book the Library ever catalogued or its most borrowed volume) or for historical, social or academic considerations (e.g. if it is one of the earliest editions of an important cultural, literary or scientific work).
Availability and dissemination of unique documents
Can these unique documents be borrowed? How can they be consulted? According to Xavier Ibáñez, head of the UPF Library’s Logistics Unit, it depends on the type of document in question. ‘The wide variety and diversity of the Library’s bibliographic collection mean that it includes everything from books intended to be widely circulated to other documents that cannot be borrowed and may only be consulted under very restrictive conditions at the Library/CRAI facilities themselves.’
‘The wide variety and diversity of the Library’s bibliographic collection mean that it includes everything from books intended to be widely circulated to other documents that cannot be borrowed and may only be consulted under very restrictive conditions at the Library/CRAI facilities themselves.’
The Library has a series of resources for adding value to its collection and, especially, unique works or those that are part of collections within its collection. Ibáñez cited several actions and channels for doing so. For one thing, the Library organizes and publicizes bibliographic exhibitions and virtual bookshelves. This includes exhibitions such as ‘Exclòs de préstec. El fons desconegut de la Biblioteca de la UPF’ [Not for loan: The unknown collection of the UPF Library], organized to commemorate UPF’s 25th anniversary, or the more recent ‘Els llenguatges de l’absolut: exposició bibliogràfica virtual’ [Languages of the absolute: virtual bibliographic exhibition].
The Library also creates special collections, that is, works grouped by provenance or subject matter that share certain particular characteristics. In some cases, it further disseminates some of these collections by digitizing them so they can be accessed through the Digital Memory of Catalonia (MDC from the Catalan) cooperative repository for Catalan heritage collections, which includes a Pompeu Fabra University Collections section. Finally, there is UPFinder (the UPF catalogue), a tool that users can use to access the university’s entire bibliographical heritage and search all the Library’s contents, including both print and electronic works.
The essential role of donations and transfers
This rich bibliographic heritage built up over time, including the unique works, would not be what it is today were it not for the selflessness and generosity of certain individuals and institutions. ‘A very large part of these collections, around 50-60%, has been acquired by or entrusted to UPF not through purchases but rather donations or transfers, from both private individuals and institutions, groups and companies’, Espinós said. This fact has enabled UPF to accumulate ‘an extensive bibliographic heritage, with the institutional prestige that this entails, and the future guarantee of preservation, at least, of the most unique collections’, she said.
‘A very large part of these collections, around 50-60%, has been acquired by or entrusted to UPF not through purchases but rather donations or transfers, from both private individuals and institutions, groups and companies’
What moves these people and organizations to donate their personal libraries, sometimes including unique works of great bibliographic value, to the university? The reasons vary, from personal ties to more rational and scientific criteria of preservation, dissemination, and access to outstanding cultural and historical property.
The Alòs-Moner siblings (Pilar, Maria, Montserrat, Ramon and Adela d’Alòs-Moner i Vila) owned a family library created by their grandfather, the librarian and cultural historian Ramon d’Alòs-Moner i de Dou (1885-1939), with contributions from earlier relatives. In November 2010, they made a bibliographic donation to UPF consisting of some 20,000 volumes, around 10% of which date from the 16th to 19th centuries. It is a humanistic collection (catalogued as the Alòs-Moner Collection and Dante Collection), consisting largely of works of literary criticism and on religious subjects, including some stand-out one-of-a-kind books by – and about – Dante Alighieri and Ramon Llull, as well as some antiquarian works.
‘We consulted Amadeu Pons, an expert affiliated with the University of Barcelona (UB). He recommended, above all, that we not split up the collection. UPF was the institution that offered us the best guarantees’, said Adela d’Alòs-Moner, a retired librarian. She added, ‘We thought it was of great interest to provide everyone with access to a collection that was previously known only to specialists, especially on Dante and Ramon Llull.’ These books include, amongst others, La Divina commedia di Dante Alighieri. Con una breve, e sufficiente dicharazione del senso letterale diversa in più luoghi da quella degli antichi comentatori, a three-volume edition of Dante’s classic, in Italian, published in Verona in 1749, which is part of the selection of unique works featured below.
‘We thought it was of great interest to provide everyone with access to a collection that was previously known only to specialists, especially on Dante and Ramon Llull.’
Fifteen unique works from the UPF Library
Shown below are fifteen unique documents (one of many possible selections) that are part of the UPF Library’s collection, spread out across its three locations: the Ciutadella Library/CRAI, the Mar Library/CRAI, and the Poblenou Library/CRAI. In addition to sharing their unique nature, they exemplify the richness and diversity of UPF’s bibliographic collection, in terms of periods, topics, disciplines, languages and cultures, but also materials and media. Most are not available for loan (indeed, all except two, De Pepsi a Apple and Atlas de anatomía humana [de] Sobotta). We have divided them into four sections: ‘Superlatives’, ‘A few of the essentials’, ‘Well-kept secrets’ and ‘Other “delicacies” (in chronological order)’.