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.

Continue reading “Robert Chapman and his plea to the bishop of Durham”

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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#Colourourcollections (2)

This week we’re introducing you to a historic magazine for Durham University students, which we hold in our archives and special collections.

The Sphinx was a magazine produced by the students of  Durham University between March 1905 and June 1922 (it did not appear between July 1914 and the end of 1918). It contained short pieces, parodies, cartoons and accounts of sports and other social events.

The image below shows a view that hasn’t perhaps changed much over the last century or so! Right-click and save the image, or download a PDF version to colour in at your leisure. Why not share your efforts with us via Twitter (@dulib or @PalaceGreenLib)?

View of Durham Cathedral across the Wear from The Sphinx, volume 1 issue 9 (June 1906)
View of Durham Cathedral across the Wear from The Sphinx, volume 1 issue 9 (June 1906)

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”

#Colourourcollections (1)

Fancy a bit of colouring in? Get your crayons, paintbrushes, or favourite digital colouring app out and join us in making Durham Cathedral’s famous sanctuary door knocker more colourful!

You can click and save the image below to print off, download the PDF version or create a digital copy. 

We’d love to see the results, so do share your colourful creations with us via Twitter (@dulib and @PalaceGreenLib), using the hashtag #colourourcollections. But most importantly, have fun!

If you’d like to see more old drawings of the Durham area, have a look at our Pictures in Print pages: http://valentine.dur.ac.uk/pip/index.html.

Find out more about the Sanctuary Knocker on the Durham World Heritage Site website: https://www.durhamworldheritagesite.com/architecture/cathedral/intro/sanctuary-knocker.

Black and white drawing of the Sanctuary Knocker at Durham Cathedral. It has the shape of a lion's head.

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”

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