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Libraries and the occult

Now here’s a researcher after our own heart: Cecile Dubois has made her 2004 MA dissertation Libraries & the Occult available for download:

The occult seems to be one of the least considered subjects when it comes to classification. This can often result in materials being divided among other subjects such as philosophy, psychology and religion. This can make it difficult to find occult materials. In such cases, a further difficulty can arise for the user; that of asking for help in locating “occult books”. …reactions may not always be negative or judgemental but it does depend somewhat on the beliefs and opinions of the library staff concerned. Particularly those who eschew the subject from a standpoint of little or no personal knowledge.

Ouch! Dubois looks at classification systems and access issues at several London collections including the Harry Price Collection, the Freemasons Library, the SPR Library, the Warburg and the Theosophical Library in London, plus the Ferguson Collection in Glasgow, Glastonbury’s Library of Avalon and others.

Whilst the meaning of the word “occult” has come to be known as hidden or concealed, the historical material on the subject does not have to be shrouded in mystery yet the location of some collections remains unknown even though it is no longer a crime to hold such interests…

This subject is ambiguous and marginal in virtually all ways: socially, intellectually, academically, religiously, scientifically, and conceptually. It does not fit in the rational world but this is also what makes it so fascinating and interesting. The imbalance between the amount of interest in the field and the stock within the library system is a result of such dilemmas.

Grab it here: Libraries & the Occult

Thanks Erik Davis!