1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

James Ascher


M.L.S., University of South Florida (Tampa), 2007. Library & Information Science. IMLS Fellow.
M.S., University of Florida (Gainesville), 2005. Major: Mathematics.
B.A., University of South Florida (Tampa), 2002. Humanities & Mathematics. Magna cum laude.

James P. Ascher is doctoral student in English Literature at the University of Virginia where studies bibliography and 18th-century English literature, particularly focusing on libertinism, frustration, censorship, and the history of obscenity.

Previously, he cataloged rare books, taught book history, and directed the ScriptaLab at the University of Colorado Boulder. In 2008 he earned the Rare Book School: William Reese Company Fellowship in American Bibliography and the History of the Book in the Americas for his scholarship. His published work includes bibliographical methods, issues in diplomatic transcription, processes for collection surveys, and methods training and recruiting librarians. He also serves as a lab instructor, teaching descriptive bibliography, at the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. During 2012 he organized the 54th Annual Rare Books and Manuscripts Section Preconference, served as the Vice-President for Publications of the American Printing History Association, and served as Treasurer for the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies.


18th C American, 18th C British, Bibliography


  • “Bibliographical Awareness in Art: Joel Swanson’s Spacebar” media archeology lab (December 2013) http://mediaarchaeologylab.com/bibliographical-awareness-art-joel-swansons-spacebar/ (solicited)
  • “How Not To Be Creepy with Observations on 18th and 21th Century Creepers” nomorepotlucks 27 (May/June 2013) http://nomorepotlucks.org/site/how-to-not-be-creepy-james-p-ascher (solicited)
  • “Collection-level Surveys for Special Collections: Coalescing Descriptors Across Standards.” With Anna Ferris, in Journal of Academic Librarianship 38, 1 (January, 2012) 33-41. (refereed)
  • “The Wordes Moote be Cosyn to the Dede: Diplomatic Transcription and Shifting Senses of Exactness Toward the Ecosystem of Digital Reproduction.” APPOSITIONS Studies in Renaissance/Early Modern Literature and Culture, 4 (2011). (refereed) http://appositions.blogspot.com/2011/05/james-p-ascher-diplomatic-e.html
  • “Recruitment of Subject Specialists to Academic Librarianship.” With Charlene Kellsey, Stephanie Alexander, and Matthew Brower, in Recruitment, Development, and Retention of Information Professionals: Trends in Human Resources and Knowledge Management, 83-111. Hershey, Penn.: IGI Global, 2010. (refereed)
  • “Progressing Towards Bibliography, or, Organic Growth in the Bibliographic Record.” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, 9, 2 (Fall, 2009). (refereed)
  • “What Is the Big Deal with RDA? Or, Some Thoughts on the Heliocentric Universe.” Colorado Libraries, vol. 34, no. 3 (2008): 57–61. (solicited)
  • A Physical Stuff Aide- Mémoire for the Digital: Digital Intermediation of Physical Stuff: How Technology Influences the Movement of Books from Bookseller to Curator to Cataloger to Professor, with Andrew Gaub and Heather G. Cole, published http://rarefrontier.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Digital-Intermediation-Brochure.pdf, July 2011.
  • Peter and Donna Thomas: Paper, Books, and Passion. Exhibit catalog for Special Collections display, Boulder, Colorado, May 16 - July 15, 2011.
  • A Catalogue of Selected Publishers’ Bindings from the Collection of Calvin P. Otto. Co-edited with Anna M. Ferris as part of a donation of over seventeen hundred publishers bindings. Internally published book, December 2010.
  • Revolution: Personal Computers as Reading/Writing Machines 1982-1992. Editor, cataloger, and contributor to open house brochure, October 27, 2010.

Editorial responsibilities

  • RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, Special Issue on Performing Arts Collections, Vol. 15, no. 1, Spring 2014. (partially referred)

Lectures and Conference Presentations

  • “The Paris Edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia” at the Annual Meeting of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, March 21, 2014.
  • “Critical Description- Moving Beyond Mere Rules in Interpreting and Promoting Collections” Invited Talk at the Media Archeology Laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder, August 8, 2013.
  • “Intentionalist Editing as Lens for Experimental Media, or, Is There a Cookie Monster Blue” Libraries Symposium Series, University of Colorado Boulder, March 21, 2013.
  • “The Current State of Bibliography and its Future as Practiced and Supported in Special Collections and Libraries.” Panel with David R. Whitesell and David Vander Meulen at the ALA Annual Conference, Anaheim, June 24, 2012.
  • “Expanded Libraries: Developing Experimental Media Collections with Embedded Partners.” At the 53rd Annual RBMS Preconference, San Diego, June 21, 2012.
  • “Digital Intermediation of Physical Stuff: How Technology Influences the Movement of Books from Bookseller to Curator to Cataloger to Professor.” Panel with Andrew Gaub & Heather Cole at 52nd Annual RBMS Preconference, Baton Rouge, June 21-24, 2011.
  • “FRBR with Strings Attached.” With Peter J. Rolla for Colorado Association of Libraries Spring Workshop, Denver, Colo., May 20, 2011.
  • “Progressing Toward Bibliography: the Apprehension of Meaning as part of the Descriptive Effort.” At the UCLA BRMITERS Research Seminar, Los Angeles, January 13, 2011. 
  • “Don’t Tilt at Windmills, an Active Learning Approach to Teaching FRBR.” With Peter J. Rolla for ALA Online Training webinar sponsored by ALCTS, 1 December, 2010. http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alcts/confevents/upcoming/webinar/cat/120110.cfm
  • “With Strings Attached: Training FRBR and FRAD via Simulation and Play.” With Peter J. Rolla at ALA Annual Conference 2010: ALCTS CCS Copy Cataloging Interest Group, 26 June, 2010.
  • “Progressive Bibliography: Catalogers, Curators, and Crowdsourcing.” A discussion session co-moderated with Jennifer Schaffner at the 51st Annual RBMS Preconference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 22-25 June, 2010.
  • “The Words Must be Cousin to the Deed, or Must be a Trick of the Document: the Duty of the Diplomatic Transcription in the Ecosystem of Digital Reproduction.” APPOSITIONS Studies in Renaissance/Early Modern Literature and Culture, February-March, 2010. http://appositions.blogspot.com/
  • “ALSTARS: Academic Librarians for Tomorrow's Academic Researchers: An IMLS-Sponsored Project to help Define a Curriculum for Academic Librarians.” Panelist, at the ACRL 14th National conference, Seattle, Washington, March 14, 2009.
  • “Enhancing the Description of Rare Books.” Part of the panel  “Descent and Sensibility: Considering LibraryThing and Degressive Bibliography.” With Deborah Hollis and Peter Rolla at the Third Colorado Academic Libraries Summit, Denver, Colorado, May 23, 2008.
  • “Quackery, Mountebanks, Fraudulent Science, and Haberdashery in the Colorado Territory: an Investigation into the Geographical Ramifications of Print Culture in the Old West.” With B. Wade Bishop. At The Culture of Print in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine (STEM), Madison, Wisconsin, September 13, 2008.
  • “The Book Transformed Through Information Technology.” Part of a panel Boulder Public Libraries Staff Learn-and-Play Day, Boulder, Colorado, December 5, 2008.
  • “Unlocking the Stories of Serendipitous Cultural Object Collections with Digital Libraries.“ With Claudia Dold at New Voices 2 at ARLIS/NA Annual Conference. Atlanta, Georgia, April 29, 2007.

Awards and Professional Activity

  • American Library Association. (ALA). Rare Books & Manuscripts Section (RBMS). Preconference Program Planning (2013 Minneapolis; chair), 2011-13.
  • American Printing History Association (APHA). Vice President for Publications, 2012-15. Vice President for Membership, 2011-12. Trustee (member of the governing board of a scholarly society), 2010-13.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Panelist, 2012-
  • ScriptaLab Lecture Series on the History of the Book and Comparative Media. $11,575 raised, 2010-1.
  • Rare Book School: William Reese Company Fellowship in American Bibliography and the History of the Book in the Americas, 2008.