About Helen McGinley

Library Executive II in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections in the Library of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin.

Library life in black and white

Recently on Twitter there has been a library challenge: 7 black & white photographs of , no humans, no explanations. We (@TCDResearchColl – are you following us?) were challenged originally by the Royal Irish Academy Library (@Library_RIA) and subsequently by Waterford Institute of Technology Libraries (@witlibraries). We thought our blog followers might like to see the photographs we posted, perhaps with explanations this time, although most of them speak for themselves. Continue reading

The Fascination of Fore-edges

parts of bookIn the original College library, books were placed on the shelves with the fore-edges facing outwards. This was normal practice in libraries for much of the sixteenth century for two reasons. One is that writing or printing the title and author’s name on the spine was not common until the 17th century and therefore the ‘back’ of the book was purely functional, holding the pages together. The other is that books, like the manuscripts which preceded them, were often held securely by a chain fastened to a metal staple on the fore-edge of the wooden board. (There are a few examples in this blog post of libraries which have retained their books on chains and, of course, there were the magical books in the library at Unseen University in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.) The chain was long enough to reach both the shelf where the book was stored and a sloping lectern* where it could be read. Continue reading

Revelling in Rackham

Arthur Rackham, the fourth of twelve children, was born in Lewisham on 19th September 1867. His father wanted him to have a career in business and he began as an insurance clerk, but attended Lambeth School of Art in the evenings, having won prizes for drawing at school. In 1892, after having illustrations published in the The Pall Mall Budget over the course of the previous year, he took a job there, moving to the new Westminster Budget the following year. After just a few years he was able to become a self-supporting book illustrator, also contributing to The Westminster Gazette and magazines such as Little Folks and Cassell’s Magazine, a career which continued until his death from cancer on 6th September 1939.

This self-portrait is the frontispiece to Derek Hudson’s biography of Rackham, published in 1960.

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Daphnis & Chloe

One of my favourite aspects of work in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections is the opportunity to hold and examine so many wonderful and diverse books. When I was returning a book to the Quin Case a few days ago, I picked one out to look at because of its beautifully decorated spine – many of the books bequeathed to the College library by the wealthy graduate Henry Quin (1760-1805) have fine bindings. The boards, endpapers, fore-edge and text turned out to be equally attractive. The book in question was Quin 43, a 1786 printing of the story of Daphnis and Chloe, bound by Christian Samuel Kalthoeber of London. A German by birth, Kalthoeber emigrated to England where he became apprentice to his compatriot Johann Ernst Baumgarten, taking over his business in 1782. Continue reading

A Fly in the Ointment

The Chinese court official Ts’ai Lun (often written Cai Lun) is credited with the invention of paper in 105 A.D., although he and his countrymen were almost certainly experimenting for some time before his announcement of their success to the emperor. The manufacturing process did not change much for hundreds of years, until the invention of suitable machinery in the nineteenth century, and is still used to some extent to produce hand-made paper today. Continue reading

Preservation book repairs – carrying out in-situ treatments in the Long Room

By Sarah Timmins, Preservation Assistant

Tool roll at the ready

Introduction

As Preservation Assistants, we help address some of the challenges and problems affecting the books of the Long Room in the Old Library. The collection of some 220,000 Early Printed Books range from the dawn of the printing press in the 1450s and incunabula, to the end of the Victorian era.  A systematic preservation project, beginning in 2004 as ‘Save the Treasures’, is ongoing today.  The focus of the project is on the cleaning of the books, and the recording of data for use by the Preservation & Conservation Department. We note key information about each book: where and when it was printed, the materials from which it is made, features of the bindings, and so on.  We also carry out a condition report, and note any stabilising treatments we carry out in situ. Continue reading

Teaching with Special Collections

As the Early Printed Books reading room opens at 10am daily, and department staff are here earlier than that, the hour between 9 and 10 can be used for class teaching, and we welcome this opportunity to share our collections with a wide range of undergraduates and postgraduates. A member of EPB staff will give an introduction to the reading room and our reference collection if required, then the group tutor is free to teach using original materials which students might not otherwise see.

If you are a lecturer and would like to use these resources, please contact the department on ext.1172 or at epbooks@tcd.ie to arrange a suitable date.

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Boxes with integrated book cradle: one object, two roles

By Erica D’Alessandro, Heritage Council Conservation intern

Introduction

As conservators, our job is to conserve Library books but also to preserve them from dust, light, improper handling and fluctuations in humidity, and to protect them during movement and handling. This is why we create made-to-measure boxes for many of the books we treat. Continue reading

Animals in the Library

By Dr Jane Carroll

Once upon a time, someone nearly bought a stuffed tiger for the Early Printed Books Reading Room [when we were preparing a Long Room exhibition about India – Ed.]. Sadly, the tiger was never bought but, nevertheless, EPB is full of animals if you know where to look for them.

Last week, I brought a group of sophister students from the School of English to EPB to look at animal books, mainly from the Pollard Collection.

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A Swift repair

Introduction

As a Heritage Council intern at Trinity College Library, I have the opportunity to work on several conservation projects supervised by conservators.  Last month, I worked with Andrew Megaw on a book entitled Letters written by the late J. Swift, D.D. Dean of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, and several of his friends. From the year 1703 to 1740. Published from the originals; with Notes explanatory and historical, by John Hawkesworth, L.L.D. In three volumes. A new edition. Volume I. London, 1766, shelfmark OLS L-11-584. Continue reading