The Book of Books: The Libro de los Epítomes in Context

This conference will bring together an international group of scholars with different areas of expertise, investigation angles and methodologies.

The participants get to exchange knowledge, findings and research questions on the topics of book production, circulation and reception, the history of libraries and cultural history, with specific focus on the 16th century.

While based on themes which have flourished around the investigation of one single manuscript, the ultimate objective of this gathering is to contribute to the larger understanding of how the dynamics of production, conservation and consumption of handwritten and printed books simultaneously were both shaped by and informed the key cultural developments of early modern society.


Please note, that speakers do not need to register, and that lunch will be offered on premises to registered attendees.

Register for the conference and the individual days

If you have any questions, please write to


AM 377 fol. is one of the several catalogues and indices devised by Hernando Colón (Cordoba 1488 - Sevilla 1539) to manage his library.

The so-called Libro de los epítomes contains nearly 2000 abstracts of as many texts from Colón's library. Long thought to be lost, the Libro was identified in 2019 as part of a nucleus of twenty- one Spanish manuscripts in the Arnamagnæan Collection at the University of Copenhagen, internationally renowned for its early Scandinavian holdings.

Over the past years, the Book of Books team, based at the University of Copenhagen, has researched different aspects of the Libro, particularly focusing on its material features, its place in Colón’s library and its connections with the other tools of his sophisticated knowledge management system, the strategies of composition of the summaries it contains and the circumstances of its arrival in Denmark.



The Book of Books conference will be an opportunity to mark the conclusion of the first phase of work on the Libro, sharing with the wider scholarly community what we have learnt so far about this incredible manuscript and the library it comes from.

The conference will moreover be an occasion to place our work in the wider European and global context, one which is closer, in fact, to that in which the Libro was conceived as a bibliographical tool and produced as a material object and a literary work.

Below is an indication of the themes we would like to explore during the conference. We encourage scholars to engage with these themes starting from the objects of their own research, through an interdisciplinary and transnational approach.

In particular, we would be interested in comparing research objects, findings and methodologies with other case studies dealing with the same period (early modern) in a broader geographical context.



Wednesday 28 August 2024

Venue: The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters

8:30  Registration opens
9:00-9:30 Institutional greetings
Susanne Ditlevsen, President of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
Matthew James Driscoll and Morten Rievers Heiberg, Principal Investigators of the Book of Books Project
H. E. María Victoria González Román, Ambassador of Spain to Copenhagen
Pilar Jiménez de Cisneros Vencelá, Head Librarian, Biblioteca Capitular Colombina, Sevilla
9:30-11:00 Session 1 - Chair: Guy Lazure
José Solís de los Santos (Universidad de Sevilla), The Ars excerpendi tradition and Hernando Colón’s Epítomes
Ester Camilla Peric (Università di Udine), Lost in bibliography? A survey into Conrad Gessner’s Bibliotheca universalis
Mikkel Kølkær (Independent researcher), Exploring the reception of classical literature in the Libro de los epítomes
11:00-11:30 Coffee and tea break
11:30-13:00 Session 2 - Chair: Guy Lazure
Nynke van Leeuwen (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen), Connecting worlds: the use of books and knowledge in the missions of Clenardus and Colón
Alessandro Gnasso (University of Copenhagen), An introduction to the Libro : its contents
Matilde Malaspina (University of Copenhagen), An introduction to the Libro : its form
13:00-14:00   Lunch (on premises for speakers and registered attendees)
14:00-15:30 Session 3 - Chair: René Hernández Vera
Carmen del Camino Martínez (Universidad de Sevilla), Writing in Seville at the time of Hernando Colón
Elisabetta Caldelli (Università degli Studi della Campania ‘Luigi Vanvitelli’) and Riccardo Montalto (Università degli Studi di Napoli ‘Federico II’), Two faces of the same library: the Inventarium librorum and the Statianae bibliothecae index as sources for understanding the library of Achilles Statius
Marc Smith (École nationale des chartes), Pierre Hamon, secretary to King Charles IX, and his book of historical scripts compiled from codices in Paris libraries (1566-7)
15:30-16:00 Coffee and tea break

Keynote lecture - Chair: René Hernández Vera
Irene Ruiz Albi (Universidad de Valladolid), The visionary legacy of Hernando Colón: organizing a library in the 16th Century

Thursday 29 August 2024

Venue: The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters

9:00-11:00   Session 4 - Chair: Matthew Driscoll
René Hernández Vera (University of Copenhagen), “Aliud nihil est quod in epitomem sit redigendum”: reading for the Libro de los epítomes
Carmen Oanea (Universitatea Babeș-Bolyai), Anonymity and the history of the book in sixteenth-century Transylvania
Kaspar Kolk (Tartu Ülikool, Tallinna Ülikool), The private readership in the early modernizing northern urban environment: books and readers in sixteenth-century Tallinn
Ignacio Navarrete (University of California, Berkeley) , Juan Pérez and the tropes of universal knowledge
11:00-11:30 Coffee and tea break
11:30-13:00 Session 5 - Chair: Matthew Driscoll
Maria Alessandra Panzanelli Fratoni (Università di Torino), "Prosper Podianus Apollini et Musis dicavit": an ambitious project of a public library in the Italian Renaissance
Alexandra Plane (Newcastle University), Building a royal library from scratch in sixteenth-century Scotland
Sarah Cusk (University of Oxford), Printed books from the libraries of some early 16th-century English humanists
13:00-14:00 Lunch (on premises for speakers and registered attendees)
14:00-15:30 Session 6 - Chair: Matilde Malaspina
Cristina Dondi (Sapienza Università di Roma), Hernando Colón's book prices and the early modern book market
Joana-Isabel Duyster Borredá (University of Copenhagen), Hispano-Danish networks, book collecting and the Libro de los epítomes
Natale Vacalebre (University of Copenhagen), Finding the lost library: Hernando Colón's dispersed (and recovered) books
15:30-16:00 Coffee and tea break
16:00-17:00 Keynote lecture - Chair: Matilde Malaspina
Marianne Pade (Aarhus University), Renaissance reading and Hernando Colón’s Saxo Grammaticus

Friday 30 August 2024

Venue: The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters

9:00-10:30   Session 7 - Chair: Joana-Isabel Duyster Borredá
Marina Garone Gravier (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), 1492: origin and development of a semantic swarm. From ideas about books to the concept of “global library”
Andrew Laird (Brown University), Libraries of native scholars in sixteenth-century Mexico: reconstruction and significance of a colonial Indigenous archive
Pedro Rueda Ramírez (Universidad de Barcelona), Libraries of the New World in the early modern age: circulating texts and the formation of collections
10:30-11:00 Coffee and tea break

Session 8 - Chair: Joana-Isabel Duyster Borredá
Lisa Voigt (Yale University), Tracking animals and their Images across the early modern Atlantic

Maria Elena Ansótegui Martínez (University of Copenhagen) and Sacramento Roselló Martínez (Georgetown University), Waman in the garden: nature and the circulation of knowledge in the 16 th century
Adriana Paolini (Università di Trento), The sharing of knowledge: the manuscripts of Ulisse Aldrovandi


Lunch (on premises for speakers and registered attendees)

Please note that due to the venue capacity the rest of the programme this afternoon will be open to speakers and invited guests only

Venue: Royal Danish Library 

14:30-16:15 Session 9 - Chair: Morten Heiberg
Anders Toftgaard (Royal Library), Danish libraries in the sixteenth century
Synnøve Midtbø Myking (Royal Library) and Anders Toftgaard , Display and presentation from Royal Library collections
Alessandro Gnasso  (University of Copenhagen), Ingrid Gyldenkærne Døssing  (University of Copenhagen) and Julia Solís Prieto (Universidad de Sevilla), Hands on the Libro : methodologies and tools of the Book of books project
16:15-16:45 Coffee and tea break
16:45-17:30 Keynote lecture - Chair: Morten Heiberg
Giuseppe Marcocci (University of Oxford), Books in the antipodes: rethinking libraries and global knowledge across the oceans
17:30 Closure of the conference and drinks




1) ​Collecting, cataloguing and managing information

How did 16th-century collectors deal with the ‘information overload’ of their times, and how did this ‘overload’ influence their organisational and cataloguing strategies? What was the impact of the printing press in this specific area of intellectual production?

2) Writing in libraries

How did 16th-century libraries function as places of production of written material, such as catalogues, scholarly or literary works, personal or institutional records? Who were the key figures involved, and what were the processes and strategies? How are these reflected in the materiality of the written products? How did these centres of written production interact with the surrounding cultural landscape?

3) Practices of reading, early modern literacy and libraries

How did late mediaeval and early modern readers read their texts? Were scholars trained in specific reading techniques or approaches? What does their performance of reading tell us about their perception of the book? How did multilingualism influence reading practices and understanding of the texts?

4) Global libraries / universal libraries

How did the geographical expeditions of the late 15th and early 16th centuries impact the creation and maintenance of libraries? What do the terms ‘global library’ and ‘universal library’ mean in the context of the 16th century?

5) Creation and dispersion of 16th-century libraries

Is it possible to identify and compare common patterns in the strategies of acquisition and reasons for dispersion of 16th-century libraries? How did these interact with the economic and social situation of the time (book prices, commercial networks, trends and agents)? How did these circumstances impact the structure, functioning and afterlife of different types of libraries or sections within the libraries?

6) Diplomatic and intellectual networks in the circulation of written cultural heritage

How did different kinds of networks (generational, personal, artistic, political ) influence the transfer of literary and artistic works in the 16th and 17th century? What role did diplomatic missions and treaties play in the creation of libraries? How did networks impact the development of contemporary trends and personal tastes?

In conclusion, it is our hope that this mutual exchange of knowledge and perspectives will help conference participants to contextualise their own investigations, but also to add elements to a wider picture and create new stimuli to look ahead for future research directions. It is expected that a selection of essays emanating from the conference will be published in an edited volume.



The conference welcomes contributions from a variety of disciplines, including, but not limited to, book history, bibliography, palaeography and codicology, history, philology, literature and library science.

We particularly encourage transnational research angles and interdisciplinary approaches. In principle, English will be the main language of the event; however, different arrangements can be discussed if necessary. Please note that we might be able to offer travel and/or accommodation support to speakers.

If you would like to present a paper, please send the following to the address by Monday 19 February 2024:

  • A 500-word abstract outlining the proposed presentation
  • A 150-word bio
  • Your affiliation and contact details
  • Three or four keywords that apply to the content of your proposed paper



Conference committee

  • Joana-Isabel Duyster Borredà
  • Matthew James Driscoll
  • Alessandro Gnasso
  • Morten Heiberg
  • René Hernández Vera
  • Matilde Malaspina

Organisation support

  • Erika Dell’Aquila 
  • Ingrid Gyldenkærne Døssing