BOSLIT in Prague

The 3rd Congress of the International Association for the Study of Scottish Literature, which took place in Prague from 22 to 26 June 2022, proved a both enthusing and promising moment for the future of BOSLIT. For the first time in more than a decade, the bibliography was brought  to the fore of Scottish literary discussions, rallying support from its longstanding sponsors whilst raising interest amongst new generations of international scholars.

The Congress featured two events about BOSLIT. On 24 June, Prof Kirsteen McCue and Dr Paul Malgrati presented the ongoing project to re-house the database at the University of Glasgow. Following a brief history of BOSLIT, based on information available on the present website, Prof McCue and Dr Malgrati went on to display the beta version of the modernised database.

Prof McCue and Dr Malgrati presenting the BOSLIT project

Two days later, on 26 June, they were joined by their colleague, Dr Luca Guariento and with earlier input by Prof Shaquat Towheed from Open University for a roundtable about BOSLIT. After Prof Towheed shared his experience in crowdsourcing for the ‘Reading Experience Database’, a discussion ensued regarding the possibility of a similar development for BOSLIT. Many members in the audience seemed keen to participate in such a venture, although most agreed that crowdsourced entires should be verified by an administrator. This also led to a further discussion about ways to broaden the database in the future, for instance by including Anglophone reprints of Scottish texts, Scottish translations of foreign texts, and multimedia adaptations of Scottish works. Moreover, emphasis was placed on the need to fill BOSLIT’s current gaps, especially regarding the coverage of extra-European languages. As termed by Prof Leith Davis, the global expansion of BOSLIT would be a welcome development for the broader, ongoing attempt to decolonise Scottish literature.

Such productive feedback and discussions were further enhanced by two meetings with potential, future partners of the BOSLIT project. The first meeting was held with Prof Joep Leersen (University of Amsterdam), expert in transational Romantic literature and the editor of Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe. Prof Leersen delighted at the news of BOSLIT’s revival, which, according to him, revealed ‘Scottish soft power’ through international translation. He encouraged Prof McCue and Dr Malgrati to augment BOSLIT by comparing its record with that of the online inventories, Libri, Worldcat, and Wikidata. Prof Leersen is also keen offer his guidance with a view to integrate BOSLIT into the online, open-source library management system, Koha.

Prof McCue and Dr Malgrati meeting Czech and Polish bibliographers

Similar perspectives were discussed on 30 June, when Prof McCue and Dr Malgrati met with the Prague-based teams of the Czech Literary Bibliography and Bibliography of the History of the Czech Land, alongside Polish bibliographers from the Polska Bibliografia Literacka. This proved a very successful meeting: Czech and Polish colleagues were thrilled by BOSLIT and offered to share their (almost) exhaustive records of Czech and Polish translations of Scottish literature for comparison. Just like Prof Leersen, they encouraged our BOSLIT team to integrate the database to an online library management system. A potential host might be found in the platform Libri, where the Czech, Polish, and Finnish literary bibliographies are currently developing a joint catalogue.

Such developments are highly promising for the future of BOSLIT. Connections are now established with the continent. Prague was a success and BOSLIT’s new catalogue is on track. Let us hope that Scottish institutions can now be convinced to help the database reach its full potential. Onward and upward!

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