New article: ‘Chaos naturae et artis’: imitation, innovation, and improvisation in the library of Sir Hans Sloane. Part 1

“‘Chaos naturae et artis’: imitation, innovation, and improvisation in the library of Sir Hans Sloane. Part 1”

Alexandra Ortolja-Baird

Library and Information History

December 2020

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Abstract

This article explores the library catalogues of the physician, President of the Royal Society, and omnivorous collector Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). It draws attention to how Sloane organised and catalogued his books, and situates his approach within the wider context of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century English book collecting and library documentation. It highlights the importance of Gabriel Naudé’s Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque and the wider genre of works on library management for English collectors, and uncovers the library practices shared by Sloane and his peers. The article concludes that Sloane adhered to many common conventions of library building, many of which were communicated through literature addressing library organisation and bibliography. However, he balanced the desire for the ideal type library with the practical demands of book ownership, mediating best practice with pragmatic solutions.

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