Memory and the Library: Remembering the Reformation — event report

The second of our project events — a collaboration between ‘Remembering the Reformation’ and the Cathedral Libraries and Archives Network [CLAN] — was held on 9–10 June 2016. This was generously funded by an External Engagement Award from the University of York and hosted by York Minister Library. It focused on the ways in which the histories and collections of cathedral libraries can help us to explore the concept of memory across the Reformation. The event also aimed more generally to provoke discussion and collaboration between curatorial staff from cathedral collections and scholars working with these rich resources. The event therefore included presentations from librarians and archivists, from the ‘Remembering the Reformation’ research team, and from other scholars of the Reformation period. We were also particularly pleased to be joined by our partners in our forthcoming digital exhibition (to be launched in 2017): Emily Dourish from Cambridge University Library, Sarah Griffin from York Minster Library, and Giles Mandelbrote and Hugh Cahill from Lambeth Palace Library. The full programme can be found below.

The conversations provoked across the two days were rich and diverse: from the impact of digitisation to the nature of anachronism; from sixteenth-century woodcuts to the role of emotion in reconnecting modern audiences to early modern cathedral collections. The theme of memory as product of multiple layered processes, constructed and reconstructed over generations, emerged strongly in many of the presentations and discussions. Here connections were drawn both to cathedral libraries as repositories of memory, and to the institutions themselves as foundations and re-foundations with Reformation histories shaped by, but distinct from, the medieval past. These discussions provoked as many questions as answers and the conference concluded with a reflective session on how these conversations might best be continued.

The ‘Remembering the Reformation’ team are grateful to all who attended the conference for their participation in this fruitful and thought-provoking event. We would also particularly like to thank Sarah Griffin, Vicky Harrison, Amelie Käßer, Connor Robinson, Georgina Wilson, Helen Barrett and Jacky Pankhurst for their vital roles in the successful running and administration of this event.