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Title: The role of data analytics in assessing historical library impact : the Victorian intelligentsia and the London Library
Author: O'Neill, Helen Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 2817
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The London Library, a subscription lending library founded in 1841, claimed at its founding, that it would support writers "who build up the nation's wisdom and the nation's fame." (Christie 1941, 32). This thesis tests the extent to which the Library fulfilled that ambition. Utilising datasets of members and book donations transcribed from institutional membership records and annual reports, wide and shallow (macroscopic) and narrow and deep (microscopic) methodologies are employed. From a dataset of 6800 Victorian members a subset of 848, who appear in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, is analysed, demonstrating, for the first time, that membership of the Library and book donation to it, was widespread amongst the Victorian intelligentsia. The impact of Library use is tested in case studies of the philosopher and social reformer, John Stuart Mill and the author, literary critic and first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, Leslie Stephen. A history of book donation to the Library by John Stuart Mill over thirty-two years, is evidenced for the first time. The impact of his membership is demonstrated using text mining to triangulate books borrowed and donated by Mill with his published works and public actions. Leslie Stephen's membership is shown to be embedded in his personal and professional life for thirty-nine years. A donation of 500 books from his personal library is discussed and the subset of London Library members cross-referenced with Fenwick's Contributors' Index to the Dictionary of National Biography (Fenwick 1989), revealing that membership of the Library was ubiquitous amongst the staff of Stephen's landmark editorial work. The Library's relationship with writers continued into the 20th century. The book donations of Stefan Zweig are presented briefly and highlight the international relevance of the Library's collections. The thesis concludes that the London Library was widely used by the Victorian intelligentsia; that its impact registered in their published work and their private and public lives; and that the Library's book collections, as seen through their book donations to it over time, are a bibliographic barometer of their intellectual concerns. The research would be of interest to those researching the history of the book, the development and impact of libraries and the activities of the Victorian intelligentsia.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available