We were delighted that this year’s SCA Annual Lecture was given by Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian and author of the recent book Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack (2020: John Murray).
You can catch up with Richard’s lecture below.
Richard describes the deliberate destruction of knowledge held in libraries and archives from ancient Alexandria to contemporary Sarajevo, from smashed Assyrian tablets in Iraq to the destroyed immigration documents of the United Kingdom’s Windrush generation. He examines both the motivations for these acts—political, religious, and cultural—and the broader themes that shape this history. He also looks at attempts to prevent and mitigate attacks on knowledge, exploring the efforts of librarians and archivists to preserve information, often risking their own lives in the process.
Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian (the senior Executive position of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford) since 2014. Fellow, Society of Antiquaries and Royal Society of Arts; Member, American Philosophical Society; Treasurer, the Consortium of European Research Libraries; President, the Digital Preservation Coalition. Awarded the OBE by The Queen in 2019.