Much ado about MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses are a 21st-century phenomenon and have become a popular means of learning, especially in the current worldwide lockdown situation. They are ‘massive’ and ‘open’ because there are no limits to the number of participants and no qualification requirements. With the development of technology, they are a natural progression from correspondence courses. Continue reading

A Bibliographical Alphabet

Due to the current situation, we are all working from home, so we are unable to show you new images from our collections. However, we are keen to maintain our online presence, so do follow us on Twitter and enjoy looking back at previous blog posts. We are also available by email – epbooks@tcd.ie – but obviously there is a limit as to what research we can do to answer your enquiries. We will do our best, of course!

Bibliography, in the sense of the history and description of books, uses a number of words which are not common in everyday life, so we thought some of our followers might find this A-Z useful. Words in italics are further explained under their initial letter. Continue reading

New Exhibition: “On Speaking Terms: Eight centuries of communication disabilities”

Text by Dr Caroline Jagoe & Dr Deborah Thorpe

Florence Fenwick Miller, An atlas of anatomy, London, 1879. Gall.TT.32.9

Communication is at the heart of who we are as human beings and communication disorders reflect the diversity of our humanity. As the Department of Clinical Speech and Language Studies in Trinity College Dublin celebrates 50 years of educating speech and language therapists in Ireland, this exhibition in the Long Room provides a glimpse into eight centuries of communication disabilities. Continue reading

And when I looked … a book was therein

Sometimes it’s obvious that a book has a story to tell before you even look at the text. The volume at OLS X-1-60 is a good example. As soon as it is lifted from its protective storage box, the hand-made brown velvet case begs to be stroked. The initials TW are embroidered on the top; the pink felt lining protrudes; and the cardboard backing shows through where moths have made a meal of the felt. Continue reading

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

A 250-year-old work from Trinity’s Printing House

Two items printed 250 years ago in Trinity’s Printing House are currently on display in the Long Room of the Old Library. Building of the Printing House began in 1734, two years after the completion of the Old Library, and the first book was printed at the University Press in 1738. 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

Miniature books and microchips

Miniature books, which typically measure less than 3 inches (76mm) in height, have been around since the written word was developed: first with cuneiform clay tablets, then hand-written manuscripts. The introduction of the printing press and moveable type printing in Europe, in middle of the 15th century by Johannes Gutenberg, set the stage for the first early printed books known as incunabula. Surviving editions of miniature incunabules are very rare treasures with only a dozen still in existence today. The new printing process made the production of miniature volumes a challenge to all involved – not just the printers themselves, but also the paper makers and book binders. Readers were also confronted with issues in the reading and handling of these tiny tomes as the size of type and pages kept getting smaller. So why print them? 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

‘Power and Belief: The Reformation at 500’ now online

The Great Bible (1540)

The Great Bible (1540)

Following the Long Room display ‘Power and Belief: The Reformation at 500’ in February 2017, we are delighted to launch the online version of the work, in conjunction with our partner Google Cultural Institute. The exhibition is one of a series of events taking place in Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.

The exhibition features the illustrated title page of The Great Bible (1540) which shows, under the eyes of God, Henry enthroned distributing God’s word to Cranmer (on his left) and Cromwell (on his right). Below this, Cranmer and Cromwell, hand the Bible to a priest and a nobleman. Below that again is a rabble of ordinary (though well-dressed) people shouting ‘Long live the King’ and ‘God save the King’. Strikingly, the Bible seems not to have made its way into their hands – none of these lesser individuals holds ‘Verbum Dei’.

Enchiridion oder eyn Handbuchlein … (1524)

Enchiridion oder eyn Handbuchlein … (1524)

Visitors to the site can examine in great detail a selection of Reformation works held in the Library including the only known surviving copy of the Maler edition of ‘Enchiridion oder eyn Handbuchlein …’ (1524).

The exhibition is presented by the Library in conjunction with The School of English and The School of Histories and Humanities with thanks to our colleagues in Digital Resources & Images Services and the Department of Conservation & Preservation.