Oddy Testing in Conservation

I’m Susan Hull, Graduate Intern in Book Conservation at Palace Green Library. I have been working with Katie Brew, Assistant Conservator, investigating the materials we use for long term storage of our collections.

Recently we received items packaged in unidentified materials. This is a cause of concern; the rate of deterioration of an archival object can increase by way of the substances surrounding it, including packaging. Unsuitable packaging can expose paper archives to volatile substances, which migrate to the object and ultimately contribute to its degradation.

To assess the materials suitability for long term storage, we contacted Archaeological Conservator Vicky Garlick who runs Oddy testing in the Dawson building, for the students of the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects MA.

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Graduate intern update: Beth

Graduate intern Beth Hall updates us on what she’s been up to recently…

Hello! It’s Beth, back again with a long-awaited intern update. I’m glad to have the opportunity to sit myself down and reflect on these last few hectic and varied months. It’s been a busy year so far – just how I like it!

One of the largest and heaviest books I’ve ever had to retrieve – the Hartlepool Antiphonal, yes that is the size of an entire trolley!
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Bishop Tunstall: The man who survived the Tudors by calculating the odds

On the International Day of Mathematics, a post by Dr Elizabeth Biggs (Trinity College Dublin/TNA Postdoctoral Research Fellow) Dr Danielle Westerhof (Rare Books Librarian) and Gemma Lewis (Castle Curator).

How many of us who have lived, worked or explored Durham Castle have ever heard about the man who built the Tunstall Gallery and Chapel?

Cuthbert Tunstall (1474-1559), bishop of Durham from 1530 until his death, was a survivor.

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Improvements to come…

If there’s one thing we’ve all seen a lot of in the last couple of years, its change – new routines, new methods and new normal. And we’ll be seeing more changes for University Library and Collections in the coming months and years, but they’ll be positive ones.

One of these changes is a new Library Management System (LMS). This is the software that underpins the core functions of the library, such as the library catalogue and the circulation system. We’ve had the current system in place – albeit with upgrades in the interim – since 1996. So change is somewhat overdue!

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Requesting resources

The festive season might have come and gone, but being a librarian is a bit like being Santa Claus – all year round. Instead of delivering toys and games (or a lump coal, if you’ve been naughty…) we deliver KNOWLEDGE. Or, perhaps more accurately, we provide access to it. In fact, we provide access to a huge range of resources, including the physical items held in our libraries, archives and museums, subscriptions to electronic journals and databases and guidance on accessing open research resources. Something for everyone, surely. But sometimes, this is not enough. Sometimes our users need MORE!

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Behind the scenes – what a catalogue record looks like!

We are about to embark on the process of moving to a new Library Management System, or LMS. This is a lengthy process, as the LMS effectively manages most core functions of a library, such as cataloguing resources, managing the loan/use of those resources and the records of our users. So transferring to a new system is a complex project, and one that we will keep you updated on over the course of the coming months. What we can say with certainty is that a new LMS will represent a significant upgrade, both for us as library staff and you as the user!

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Romanesque bindings

A post by Assistant Curator Katie Brew

I have recently been fortunate to attend a five day Romanesque binding course with experienced bookbinder and conservator Arthur Green. It was a largely practical course, attended to gain a deeper understanding of this particular binding style and its construction – to improve my own skills and directly inform the conservation of the early medieval bindings we have here in Special Collections.

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The Lambton Archive – a summer internship

Summer intern Iris Leussink looks back on two months spent working at Palace Green Library

For a lot of people in Durham, Palace Green Library is a bit of a mystery. Some of my friends, even those who have studied and lived in here for four years, have never set foot in the building. Before I started, I had only been here once to see a rare book for my History dissertation. So I’m writing this blog post to give you an idea of what an internship at an archive might look like in practice.

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Libraries are not just for reading

A guest post by Liz Mytton, the first of our artist-facilitators in our #CreativeCosins summer workshop programme

“If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s the value of moving freely. To travel, to shake hands and embrace. In the early months of lockdown last year, I remember driving to my shift (I was a part-time NHS worker at the time) and on observing the empty streets during what would have normally been rush hour, I felt like a character in some apocalyptic thriller – everyone had disappeared.

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