THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Americas studies blog

18 March 2010

The Beats and friends

I’m a bit sceptical about the usefulness of bibliographies in these days of online searching. What’s the point of just creating a subset of your catalogue which anyone can do for themselves? You either have to go for a very short list of key titles, or add some value by having some useful commentary and/or bring to light material that can’t easily be found.

More years ago than I care to remember, Jim (a now long retired ex member of the team) started to compile a bibliography of our holdings of items by and about the Beat generation of writers. He did provide those useful analytical entries, and in the process of compilation, he also came across material we didn’t have – and acquired it, substantially enriching the collections in the process. I should also emphasise the ‘and friends’ of the title, since this bibliography extends well beyond the usual suspects. It should have been published about 5 years ago, but for reasons I won’t bore you with, it wasn’t. It was a real labour of love for Jim and I hate to see good work go to waste, so I’ve decided to put up a pdf of the original bibliography, warts and all.

You won’t find any material published in the last few years, which is a shame since there have been so many ‘anniversaries,’ leading to a big rise in the critical literature on Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg et al. But you might be surprised by the amount of original material that we have. Of course, the bibliography wasn’t originally intended as an online resource, so the order, index and numerous other things now leave a lot to be desired. But the amount of work needed to revamp it is beyond me or anyone else in the team at the moment (although it remains on our ‘to do’ list). Be warned though – it’s a big document of over 4MB and 745 pages. And this is only the first part (printed material) - we also have a listing of all our relevant sound recordings which hopefully will be an even bigger revelation in terms of just how much we have in the collections. The Sound Recordings pdf should appear next week. In the meantime, do let us have your comments on the bibliography – either direct to the blog or you can email us at Americas@bl.uk.

Download BL beats bibliography printed collections

[C.H.]

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