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Gathered Leaves: Manuscript Fragments from Tisch Library Special Collections

biblioclast n.

[Greek -κλάστης breaker] a destroyer of books

– Oxford English Dictionary

Librarians and scholars deplore the practice of disbanding books and selling individual leaves in order to maximize the seller’s profit. It is an old, lucrative, and ineradicable trade, a plague on Medieval studies. Nonetheless, many libraries hold leaves donated by collectors and members of the public. In some cases, reputable scholars and institutions may collect leaves of particular, noteworthy manuscripts, in order to prevent them disappearing from public view.

It is important to ensure that these leaves are available to scholars and the general public, for research, teaching, and to support the emerging field of fragmentology, which aims to use the Internet to locate and link the scattered leaves of broken books. Tisch Library Special Collections undertakes a number of initiatives to ensure that the images of leaves in this exhibit, and others in the collection, are known and available to students and professors at Tufts and around the world.