Book conservation in lockdown

What do Conservators do when separated from the archives and rare books they normally work on? One answer is that they make their own! Tony King, our Senior Manager Collections Care and Conservation, describes the process of creating a historic bookbinding.

The history of Western bookbinding stretches back to antiquity and has involved significant changes in the way books are bound, sometimes leading to obvious external differences but often not. Books are complex 3-dimensional objects and working out how a book was put together several hundred years ago requires a fair bit of detective work. Very few descriptions of life in the bindery have survived so the only way to really understand the processes involved is to make a new book using what we believe to be the techniques, tools and materials of the period.

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#Colourourcollections (3): Sunderland High Street

Sunderland_Colouring resized

For those of you who are familiar with Sunderland, here is an image of the High Street in earlier times for you to colour in. The image is part of our Pictures in Print digital collection of printed local maps and topographical illustrations. This particular illustration comes from an extra-illustrated copy of William Fordyce’s The history and antiquities of the county palatine of Durham (1857), which is held at Sunderland City Library.

The domed building on the right-hand side is Hutchinson’s Buildings, opposite Havelock House where in 1898 the “Great Fire of Sunderland” started. Can you identify any other buildings?

Download the image above as a JPG or as a PDF. Do share your creations with us via Twitter (@dulib or @PalaceGreenLib).

Robert Chapman and his plea to the bishop of Durham

Simona Martorana is one of a small group of intrepid Durham University students wrestling with medieval handwriting. They are guided by Michael Stansfield, Senior Manager of Archives and Special Collections, normally in person, but over the last few months online. During these palaeography sessions, students catch a glimpse of a past world through the many stories that surface in our archival sources. Simona discusses a document from the Durham Cathedral Archive, which our staff look after at 5 The College.

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RLUK Collections: a virtual tour of our shared treasures

Durham University Library and Collections is a member of Research Libraries UK (RLUK), a consortium of the most significant research libraries in the UK and Ireland. As many members entered lockdown in March, Dr David Prosser (Executive Director of RLUK) took a virtual tour of RLUK member’s special collections via Twitter (#RLUKCollections), including those at Durham University, to highlight just a small selection of the extensive, diverse, and unique collections held within the member libraries and archives.

We have (with permission) highlighted here Durham’s brief entry, and provided links to each of the others, as an opportunity to quickly sample some of the many treasures held within the British Isles.

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Multicultural Amman: Engaging Jordan’s Youth (Part 1)

إشراك جيل الشباب الأردني في التعلم عن ماضي عمّان وتعدد ثقافاتها (ممول من المعهد البريطاني

Ross Wilkinson, Learning and Engagement Manager, reflects on an ongoing collaborative learning project which stretches from Durham to Jordan:

Back in the heady pre-lockdown days of August 2018, I received an email from a colleague in Archaeology, Dr. Arwa Badran Arwa asked to meet as she was putting funding towards a project to help youth engagement in museums and needed the support of the Learning and Engagement Team. I had worked with Arwa previously on the Museum and Artefacts MA course, and at this point I assumed a simple engagement with local partner museums in the region or possibly wider, nationally…  

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Whose book is it? Books owned by the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre

The following post, by our rare books cataloguer Dr Aya Van Renterghem, first appeared in a longer form on the Early Modern Female Book Ownership blog in May 2020. We are grateful to the blog’s moderators for allowing us to share the content.

When considering the many shapes and forms in which early modern female book ownership appears, thoughts and discussions usually turn to the various types of books owned by different women or focus on the difference in ownership between social classes of women, for instance. It is, however, possible to broaden this view and also think about gradations of ownership and about the level of agency female book owners had. I mean by this that we could think about questions such as how much control early modern women had over their choice of books or over the type of books they owned. The Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre collection, currently being catalogued at Palace Green Library, Durham University, presents an interesting case study in this regard and is worth exploring here. Continue reading “Whose book is it? Books owned by the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre”

Acquisitions in Lockdown – moving from print books to eBooks

Since the start of lockdown on 23rd March the way we all buy items has changed. From following social distancing rules in the supermarket, trying to find an online delivery slot or not being able to buy products we used to buy regularly. We are all adapting to this new shopping experience and this is no different for libraries and how they buy and provide access to books. Continue reading “Acquisitions in Lockdown – moving from print books to eBooks”

A Virtual Tour of Norman Cornish: The Sketchbooks #CultureinQuarantineMW

Norman Cornish: The Sketchbooks was an exhibition held at Palace Green Library from 23 November 2019 – 1 March 2020, forming part of the programme to mark the centenary of the birth of the celebrated County Durham artist. Colleagues from the Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions team worked closely with the Cornish family to present a selection of around 60 of the artist’s little-seen sketchbooks, along with carefully chosen finished paintings to provide a rich insight into Cornish’s working practice and development as an artist. The exhibition was designed to offer an intimate look at Cornish’s life and work, touching on his career as a miner, how his family encouraged and inspired his art and the many subjects for drawing and painting provided by the community of his home town of Spennymoor.

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Learning Online #MuseumFromHome

In a pre-coronavirus world, we at the Learning and Engagement Team spent our days engaging school children; families; community groups and those with access requirements to enjoy and use the truly amazing collections of Durham University. We were able to work with all walks of life in amazing buildings – with equally amazing collections –  Durham Castle, Palace Green Library and the Oriental Museum and hopefully, raise aspirations for young people in our region to go to university and have as much fun with researching collections as we do. 

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Calligraphy Support Scheme #MuseumsUnlocked

Gillian Ramsay is an Assistant Curator at the Oriental Museum, part of the University Library and Collections family. She kindly shared her recent blog post for the Islamic Art Subject Specialist Network about the work being done in partnership with them from our collections. Thank you so much to all of the staff at Museums for sharing the fascinating collections during lockdown; this is an especially well-timed post as it touches on Ramadan, which is currently being celebrated by Muslims all over the world. 

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