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THE BIBLIO FILE is one of the world's leading podcasts about "the book" and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by NIGEL BEALE it features wide ranging conversations with authors, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and other best practitioners on Robert Darnton's "communications circuit."

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Nov 3, 2021

Library exhibition catalogues, just like Bookseller catalogues, constitute a damned fine collecting area if you ask me. Beautiful, informative, and cheap - especially when you consider how much money and time, care and attention goes into producing them - they're well worth acquiring, despite not being particularly rare. What better service can I provide the collector to get a grip on this under-appreciated field than to talk to someone who evaluates them if not exactly for a full-time living, then certainly for a good time?
 
Emma Sarconi is a librarian and book historian who seeks "to facilitate conversations around the impact of special collections in our lives by providing quality reference services, instruction design, project management and event planning." She currently works as the Reference Professional for Special Collections in Firestone Library at Princeton University, and chairs the RBMS Leab Exhibition Awards Committee.
 
The Leab Awards are given annually in recognition of excellence in the publication of catalogues and brochures that accompany exhibitions of library and archival materials. They are administered by the Exhibition Awards Committee of the ALA/ACRL Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS), whose operating expenses are covered by a generous endowment from Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab, editors of American Book Prices Current.
 
I spoke with Emma via Zoom about the criteria used by the committee to judge the catalogues.