PLU’s Professors Solveig Robinson and Peter Grosvenor on National Libraries
By Adela Ramos
The English Department’s very own Solveig Robinson recently gave a talk on the project she is co-writing with Peter Grosvenor (PLU) at the University of Greenwhich in the UK. This is how their visit was announced via the University’s webpage:
As is increasingly understood, Britain is not a nation-state but a home to a plurality of national identities, sometimes convergent, other times divergent. All national identities are constructed, and one way in which they are constructed is through the particular cultural institutions, such as libraries and museums, that are erected to represent them. This talk will describe our current research into the role of national libraries in the construction of the national identities found in the British Isles.
The British Museum Library (now British Library) is one of the oldest, largest, and most renowned national libraries in the world. Founded in 1753, it expanded with the British Empire throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But despite its size and grandeur, the BML failed to meet the needs and desires of all Britain’s inhabitants, and individual national libraries were also established in Ireland (1877), Wales (1907), and Scotland (1925). The cultural and political contexts in which the constituent national libraries were created, and the principles that guide their contemporary collection and outreach efforts, offer insights into how the national libraries not only preserve but also help to shape Britain’s constituent national identities.