Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-767nl Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-12T12:34:49.697Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

‘For the bibliographers at UCL’: A humument and the lessons it teaches 21st century librarians1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 September 2016

Anne Welsh*
Lecturer in Library and Information Studies, Department of Information Studies, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT Email:
Get access


Object-based learning lies at the heart of teaching in both historical bibliography and cataloguing classes on the MA Library and Information Studies at UCL. Tom Phillips's work A humument and the novel he chose to use as his canvas, W.H. Mallock's A human document provide memorable ‘object lessons’ with scope for students to synthesize and evaluate their pre-existing learning from inside and outside the modules. It is important that the examples used in class are simple enough to illustrate the strengths of any conceptual model yet complex enough to highlight its limits. It is also ideal if examples can be beautiful as well as useful. A humument fulfills all these criteria and, for students with no background in art or art librarianship, also introduces the artists' book as a genre and artists themselves as an important and interesting user group within information services.

Research Article
Copyright © ARLIS/UK&Ireland 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



An oral version of this paper was presented on 5 December 2015 at the conference “Livres d'artistes: the artist's book in theory and practice” organized by Cardiff University Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) in association with the Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research and Cardiff School of Art and Design.


2. Exhibitions at the Book Art Bookshop are quite intimate, because of the size of the space. Tom Phillips's tweeted photograph of the event captures the size, scale and atmosphere:

3. Phillips, Tom, A humument: a treated Victorian novel (5th ed., London: Thames & Hudson, 2012)Google Scholar.

4. Tom Phillips, “A Humument,” accessed 29 February 2016,

5. Rockenbach, Barbara, “Archives, Undergraduates, and Inquiry-Based Learning: Case Studies from Yale University Library,The American Archivist 74 (2011): 297311 Google Scholar; 304.

6. Paris, Scott G., preface to Perspectives on Object-centered Learning in Museums (Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002), xixxii Google Scholar; x.

7. Biggs, John, Teaching for Quality Learning at University (2nd ed., Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education, 2008)Google Scholar.

8. Romanek, Devorah and Lynch, Bernadette, “Touch and the Value of Object Handling: Final Conclusions for a New Sensory Museology,” in Touch in Museums: Policy and Practice in Object Handling ed. Chatterjee, Helen (Oxford: Berg, 2008), 275286 Google Scholar.

9. Chatterjee, Helen and Duhs, Rosalind, Object Based Learning (OBL) in Higher Education (HE): Pedagogical Perspectives on Enhancing Student Learning through Collections (Brighton: University of Brighton Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design, 2010), 1Google Scholar.

10. Chatterjee, Helen, “Staying Essential: Articulating the Value of Object Based Learning,University and Museums Collections Journal 1 (2008)Google Scholar,

11. Dewey, John, Experience and Education (New York: Macmillan, 1938)Google Scholar.

12. Kolb, David A., Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1984)Google Scholar.

13. Welsh, Anne, “Experiential Learning in Historical Bibliography” in Ambassadors of the Book: Competences and Training for Heritage Librarians ed. Mouren, Raphaele (Berlin: De Gruyter 2012), 149165 Google Scholar.

14. Anne Welsh, “Visit to the Bodleian Bibliography Room, 10 March 2011,”

15. Marzano, Robert J. and Kendall, John S., The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (2nd ed., Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin, 2007)Google Scholar.

16. Locke, John, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975)Google Scholar.

17. Heafford, Michael, Pestalozzi: His Thought and its Relevance Today (London: Methuen, 1967)Google Scholar.

19. Chambers's Object Lesson Manual: With Lists of Apparatus, Illustrations and Blackboard Summaries (Edinburgh: W&R Chambers, 1897), [i].

20. Chambers's (1897), 32.

21. Phillips, Tom, “Notes on A Humument, in A Humument (1st ed., London: Thames & Hudson, 1980), [371375], [371]Google Scholar.

22. Phillips, (“Notes”, 1980) [371].

23. Phillips, (“Notes”, 1980) [371].

24. Phillips, (“Notes”, 1980) [371].

25. Mallock, W.H., A Human Document: A Novel, (London: Chapman & Hall, 1892)Google Scholar,

26. Phillips, (“Notes”, 1980) [371].

27. Phillips, (“Notes”, 1980) [371].

28. Phillips, (“Notes”, 1980) [372].

29. Phillips, (“Notes”, 1980) [372].

30. Phillips, (“Notes”, 1980) [375].

31. Phillips, (“Notes”, 1980) [i].

32. UCL Department of Information Studies, “INSTG012 Historical Bibliography,”

33. UCL Library Services, “Little Magazines, Alternative Press & Poetry Store Collections,”

34. UCL Department of Information Studies, “INSTG004 Cataloguing and Classification,”

35. From 2016–2017, this module will no longer be taught. An archive page is available: UCL Department of Information Studies, “INSTG005 Cataloguing and Classification 2,”

36. Anne Welsh, “Seeing Through FRBR,” ARLIS UK FRBR for Art Librarians 30 July 2015,

37. Anne Welsh, “Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records,” ARLIS UK FRBR for Art Librarians 18 December 2012,

38. Cutter, Charles A., Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalog (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872), 10Google Scholar,

40. “National Art Library Catalogue,”

41. IFLA, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records: Final Report (Munich: K.G. Saur, 1998)Google Scholar,

43. “Library of Congress Authorities, Phillips, Tom, 1937–,”

44. “University of Sheffield StarPlus. A human document : a novel … 9th ed.,”

45. ‘This collection comprises around 550 nineteenth-century novels, and was assembled specifically for the purpose of studying dialogue.” Special Collections and Archives: The Bullough Collection,!/file/BulloughCollection.pdf

46. Welsh, Anne and Batley, Sue, Practical Cataloguing: AACR, RDA and MARC21 (London: Facet, 2012), 92 Google Scholar.

47. Coyle, Karen, FRBR, Before and After: A Look at our Bibliographic Models (Chicago: ALA Editions, 2016)Google Scholar.

48. Coyle (2016), 94.

50. “FictionFinder: A FRBR-based Prototype for Fiction in WorldCat,”

51. de la Mare, Walter, Desert Islands and Robinson Crusoe (London: Faber, 1930)Google Scholar.

52. Anne Welsh and Jenny Wright, “RDA for Acquisitions Staff,” Taking Stock (in press).

53. Thomas Meehan, “FRBR Example: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje,”