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

“The ancient odd fish of the College”

Do you remember Dr Barrett from my post about Anne Plumptre’s Narrative of a residence in Ireland? The idea for that post arose when I saw his note that the book was “too silly & too ill mannered for a public library” but when I was researching it, the more I read about Dr Barrett, the more I felt he deserved a post of his own.

From Dublin University Magazine, Sept. 1841

From Dublin University Magazine, Sept. 1841

Continue reading

International Children’s Book Day

International Children’s Book Day is celebrated each year to to help promote the role of children’s literature and the right of every child to become a reader.

Celebrated since 1967, this event generally falls around 2 April – the birth date of Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875). This year it is the turn of the Irish branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) to launch the festivities. Library staff member Louise Gallagher is a committee member of IBBY and – with the assistance of Clodagh Neligan, Niamh Harte and Helen McGinley – has mounted two exhibitions of Hans Christian Anderson titles as part of the celebrations.

Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, originally published in 1835, have been translated into over 125 different languages. Many of the world’s most celebrated illustrators have produced beautiful images inspired by his stories, including Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielsen, Harry Clarke and Arthur Rackham. Interestingly Dulac’s friendship with William Butler Yeats led to a variety of artistic projects, including the design at Yeats’s suggestion of a proposed coinage for the Irish Free State, and collaboration on his play ‘At the Hawk’s Well’. For this Dulac designed the scenery and costumes, composed the incidental music, and took part in the first performance in 1916.

The display case in the BLU contains a selection of titles mostly from the Pollard Collection including a copy of ‘The ugly duckling and other stories from Hans Andersen’s fairy tales’ (London, 1896) and an interesting primer in Gaelic type ‘Leabhrín na leanbh’ (Baile Átha Cliath, 1913). The case in the Orientation Space of the Ussher Library features a selection of material from our modern collections including ‘Snow queen’ (London, 1993) illustrated by Irish artist P.J. Lynch.

Au Revoir Dr. Benson

Charles and Gillie Benson, Robin Adams and Andrew Carpenter in the Long Room

From left to right: Charles Benson, Gillie Benson, Robin Adams and Andrew Carpenter

Last night friends, colleagues, academics and booksellers crowded into Trinity’s Long Room to celebrate the career of Dr. Charles Benson, Keeper of Early Printed Books and Special Collections until his retirement last September.

College Librarian, Robin Adams gave the first speech of the evening, paying tribute to Charles’ professional curiosity in all the works under his care, and to the quirkiness that ensured that working with him could never be described as dull. He also alluded to the (organised) chaos that reigned in Charles’ “office” on the gallery of the Long Room, so at odds with the stereotypical view of the librarian presiding over an immaculately ordered domain. Anyone who was privileged to consult Charles at his desk will recognise the truth of that statement!

Professor Andrew Carpenter then paid tribute to Charles’ numerous academic achievements, hailing him as the world expert on the 19th century Irish book trade, particularly emphasising the importance of his Doctoral thesis, and hoping for its eventual publication. (In the meantime, a copy may be consulted in TCD Library.)

Finally Charles took the podium himself, giving a speech that, though witty as always, did not shy away from emphasising the challenges facing Trinity Library in these straitened times.

Charles entered the library in 1968 as a trainee, and joined the staff of the Department of Early Printed Books in 1972, becoming Keeper in 1988. His achievements, both academic and as a librarian, are too numerous to list here, so suffice it to say that his expertise and humour will be sorely missed by the scholars who came to consult him and by his colleagues, particularly those in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections.

We are looking forward to welcoming Charles to the Department as a reader, and to subjecting him to the same strict reading room discipline as he always enforced with such a gimlet eye.

Australian Ambassador Visits Trinity

Susie Bioletti, Robin Adams, Meg Johnson, and Bruce Davis looking at the display honouring ANZAC day in the Berkeley foyer.

Susie Bioletti, Robin Adams, Meg Johnson, and Bruce Davis. Photograph by Sharon Sutton.

Last Friday the Australian Ambassador, Bruce Davis, accompanied by Meg Johnson, visited the Library. They were met by the Librarian, Robin Adams, and the Keeper of Preservation & Conservation, Susie Bioletti, who first showed them the display honouring ANZAC day in the Berkeley Library foyer and then brought them to the Henry Jones Room where Helen Beaney from the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections had laid out a number of items relating to 19th century Australia, including settlement, exploration, birds and mammals. After some time perusing and discussing this material, the party continued to the Long Room to visit the Tercentenary exhibition.

Early Italian Printings

Image of Veronic Morrow at the workshop

Veronica Morrow

This morning staff from the Department of Early Printed Books were pleased to facilitate a workshop on Early Italian Printings organised by Dr. Clare Guest of TCD’s Long Room Hub and Department of Italian.

Subjects covered were varied, with Dr. Guyda Armstrong of the University of Manchester speaking about the Manchester Digital Dante project and Veronica Morrow, a former Keeper of Collection Management in TCD library, speaking about the Bibliotheca Quiniana (a particularly beautiful collection now in the care of the Department of Early Printed Books). As Dr. Helen Conrad O’Briain of TCD’s School of English was unfortunately unable to attend in person, Professor Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin gave Dr. O’Briain’s paper, entitled “Grammar and gardens: a pirate’s garden in the commentary tradition, Georgics IV, lines 125-48”. The final paper of the workshop, “The development of the modern classic: format and criticism”, was given by Dr. Clare Guest.

Image of scholars examining the books used in the workshop

Scholars examine some of the books used in the workshop

Following the papers there was an opportunity to examine the books discussed by the speakers in more detail. Here’s a few pictures of some of the treasures that were on display.