Lists of notable acquisitions often concentrate on the expensive and rare: this mixed baker's dozen is, on the whole, no exception. Some of the books listed chronologically here are not only rare but unique, some are of obvious historical or scholarly importance, some are beautiful. All are, I hope, interesting; but it must be said that market value is a red herring and helps to deflect enquiry into the old familiar channels, blocking intellectual adventure and ultimately progress. For every book is a concentrate of historical forces and can illuminate its age and those who produced and consumed it. In a great library, collection-building consists mainly of the patient routine of gap-filling, not of unusual expenditure. It is to be hoped that the bread-and-butter purchases many hundreds of times more numerous will be of just as much intellectual value to the library's present and future public.
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