The event also hosted very diverse and interesting workshops on topics ranging from insights into 16th century Spanish editions of Marco Polo (by Dr Matthew Coneys, University of London) to “Warburg and the celestial sphere” (by Roberto Casazza, Head of Research at the National Library of Argentina). Professor Linda Newson, Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London, offered an engaging account of the role of the Inquisition and the reality of early book production in colonial Peru and how these influenced the dissemination of Paracelsian and more empirical medical practices in the New World (her book Making medicines in early colonial Lima, Peru: apothecaries, science and society is available as an e-book here).
Another fascinating talk was given by Edward Wilson-Lee (Director of Studies at Sidney Sussex College) on Ferdinand Columbus, Christopher’s son, and his revolutionary quest for a “universal library”. Ferdinand Columbus, or Hernando Colón, was a 16th century bibliographer and cosmographer who tirelessly assembled an impressive private book collection of over 15,000 volumes. He not only collected a great number of incunabula, manuscripts and ephemera but also devised a unique visual method for cataloguing them. The Biblioteca Hernandina is the subject of a joint and very compelling project between Cambridge University and the Universidad de Granada exploring “knowledge collection and distribution [and] the insights [this] may provide into our own fast-changing, global world, our own revolution in transnational communication”. This looks like an ideal topic to feature in a future exhibition at the University Library, so watch this space!