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Mis-shelving might be the most common cause of a lost library book, but is by no means the only means of loss in libraries. Through the centuries, books have suffered damage and loss through fire, flood and war, as well as deliberate ideological destruction. Loss of texts and entire libraries can come at great cultural cost but those volumes that survive can preserve a great deal. This talk will offer an introduction to the kinds of information that a book can preserve as objects and how these discoveries can be used, as well as considering the secrets lost to history through the destruction of book collections. The discoveries to be made from surviving texts illuminate not only the stories of these individual objects but also reveal wider stories, which would otherwise remain lost.
Alice Bennett is a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of York.