Will Poole’s masterclass in treating a collection of books as a primary source took the example of Thomas Barlow (1608-1691), Bodley’s Librarian, Provost of the Queen’s College, Oxford, Professor of Divinity and Bishop of Lincoln. As Dr Poole remarked, the examples shown in the class demonstrated that in Oxford, early modern books couldn’t be neatly divided into printed books and manuscripts. The class examined extensive additions and annotations made by Barlow to his books. Some annotations fall into the category of marks of reading but others extend to subject bibliographies or biographical notes on authors. Many record politico-theological disputes of the time, with Barlow’s own vehement remarks on the pertinence of the contents. In effect, Poole pointed out, these printed books contain working notes for Barlow’s own academic life as a polemical theologian.
Locating all the copies that belonged to Barlow has taken Poole into some detective work in the Bodleian’s own archives and in the archives of the Queen’s College, two institutions which shared in Barlow’s bequest. Librarians were interested to hear what further copy-specific information could be added to catalogue records on the basis of Poole’s research.