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Books are not just containers of information: they are also physical artifacts, and they bear traces of the hands they have passed through over time. Many of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century books in college collections had a life outside the library before they were donated: they may have been exchanged between friends and lovers, carried along to war, filled with idle doodling, or used as a place to record tender memories of lost loved ones. The Book Traces project is an effort to discover these uniquely modified volumes in library collections and advocate for their importance as artefacts of the history of readers’ relationships with their books, and with each other. Kristin Jensen ’99, who manages Book Traces from its base at the University of Virginia, will speak about “finding cool stuff in old books” at a time when American college libraries are turning towards mass digitization, shared print consortia, and efforts to manage down the size of print collections.

Based at the University of Virginia Library, Kristin Jensen is the project manager for Book Traces and is currently, along with Prof. Andrew Stauffer, co-directing a planning grant from the Mellon Foundation. Before joining the UVA Library staff, Kristin worked as a project manager at Performant Software Solutions in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she specialized in steering digital humanities projects through the software development process. She has also worked at the University of Virginia’s Morris Law Library, NINES, and the former Electronic Text Center. Kristin holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia with a concentration in eighteenth-century British literature.

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Wonderful, appealing, and intriguing. Great presentation pitched to all listeners no matter their knowledge of the project or the world of marginalia.