May 7, 2019
David McKnight is an accomplished librarian and book collector, "imbued with remarkable passion and resolve."
As Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML), at the University of Pennsylvania David is responsible for insuring stewardship, management, discovery, and preservation of the collection and for maintaining the visibility of RBML within and outside of the Penn community. At the Penn Libraries, he has also served as Curator of the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image.
Before coming to Penn, he headed the Rare Books and Special Collections Division at McGill University Libraries and was the Principal Librarian at McGill's Humanities and Social Sciences Library.
He is the author of Experiment, Printing the Canadian Imagination: Highlights from the David McKnight Canadian Little Magazine and Small Press Collection.
McKnight invested 30 years in developing this collection, one that has "considerable potential for literary research in the areas of Canadian Modernist poetry, avant-garde literature, and the production of small magazines in Canada." He generously donated the collection to the University of Alberta Libraries in 2012, and this catalogue was published in 2018 to accompany an exhibition held at the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library.
David and I met in Montreal to talk about his experience amassing this essential collection. Among other things we discuss Ken Norris's Little Magazine in Canada 1925-80, Roy MacSkimming's The Perilous Trade, disappointment in Library and Archives Canada, New Wave Canada: The Coach House Press and the small press movement in English Canada in the 1960s, Carl Spadoni, Merrill Distad, wives of book collectors, fine presses, literary experiment, Adrian King-Edwards and The Word Bookstore in Montreal, bill bissett, bp nichol, Mac Jamieson, TISH, Bill Hoffer, j.w. curry, Nicky Drumbolis, Nelson Ball's catalogues, Wynne Francis's correspondence, Contact Press, Vehicule Press, Quebecois magazines, and The Gotham Bookmart exhibition.