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About the Collections

Annotations from the Brian P. Lamb “Booknotes” Collection

This collection features scanned images of annotations from books in the "Booknotes" collection, as well as text transcriptions of these notes. 

“Booknotes” host Brian Lamb interviewed 801 authors during the over fifteen–year run of CSPAN’s “Booknotes” television program. Lamb made a point of reading each book in its entirety before each interview so that he could discuss it in detail with the author. He often spent up to twenty hours a week reading a book and preparing for the subsequent interview. While this thoroughness was normal operating procedure for Brian Lamb, this was not always the case with interviewers of authors on other programs. Lamb took pride in being able to discuss a book’s most minute details with its author, as he believed that his audience would be interested themselves in such details.

Lamb also had a habit of annotating a book while he read it. He made notes in the margins and endpapers. He would underline single words or whole passages in the main text. These “book notes” were used by Lamb to remind him of things he wanted to ask the author. Notes might pertain to significant events in the book or the education or employment of a book’s author or subject. Ideas for questions, quotations, and philosophical, political, historical and scientific concepts were noted along with the names of important people or significant dates.

George Mason University Libraries acquired the entire collection of 801 nonfiction books used on the “Booknotes” television series in September of 2011. The books are now housed in the Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives department.

"Booknotes" Oral History Project Collection #R0143

As part of an established documentation strategy, the George Mason University Libraries has conducted oral history interviews with selected "Booknotes" authors and C-SPAN staff members about their experiences as part of the "Booknotes" series. These interviews give insight into the impact Booknotes had on the authors, on those who worked for C-SPAN, and the network's growth.

Authors were asked to describe the experience of appearing on the program, how it was different from other interview appearances, how it affected their career, and how it forged lasting relationships between an author and C-SPAN. C-SPAN staffers were asked questions about the inner workings of the program and Brian Lamb's methodology.

The thirty-five interviews were conducted in 2014 and 2015. These oral histories and abstracts of them are available for use here via this site.

C-SPAN Records #C0270 

The photographs featured in this site help document authors, C-SPAN staff, events, and behind the scenes happenings pertaining to the "Booknotes" television series. They are part of the larger C-SPAN Records collection. which comprise papers and photographs which detail the activities of the C-SPAN Television Network.