Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ligatus Summer School 2010

Ligatus Summer School 2010
Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbuttel (Germany)
2-6 and 9-13 August 2010.

The 5th Ligatus Summer School, following the success of the courses
in Volos, Patmos and Thessaloniki, is to be held this year in
collaboration with the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel,
near Braunschweig, in northern Germany. This is an exciting new
venture for us, and the opportunity to use books from this
magnificent collection in our courses, will make this year’s summer
school a memorable experience.

About the course:
The contribution that bindings can make to our understanding of the
history and culture of the book is often neglected, but they can
offer insights into the study of readership, the booktrade, and the
provenance of books which are often not available elsewhere. In order
to realise this potential, it is important to understand not only the
history of the craft but also to learn how to record what is seen in
a consistent and organised way. Librarians, cataloguers,
conservators, book historians and all scholars who work with early
books, need therefore to understand the structure and materials of
the bindings they encounter in order to be able to record and
describe them. Such descriptions of bindings are not only valuable
for the management of library collections, pursuing academic research
and making informed decisions about conservation, but are also
important for digitisation projects as they can radically enrich the
potential of image and text metadata. It is our belief that bindings
should be seen as an integral part of the book, without which, our
understanding of the history and use of books is often greatly

The purpose of the summer school is to uncover the possibilities
latent in the detailed study of bookbinding and it mainly focuses on
books which have been bound between the fifteenth and the early
nineteenth century. While both courses concentrate in particular on
the structure and materials of bookbindings, each of the two courses
offered in this summer school looks at bindings from different
geographical areas and with a different approach. The first course
looks at the history of bookbinding as it was carried out in Europe
in the period of the hand press (1450-1830), with the opportunity to
look at examples from the collection during the afternoons, while the
second course looks at the development of bookbinding in the eastern
Mediterranean and gives hands-on training in how to observe and
record bindings, again working with examples from the collection.
Part of this course will include the construction of an XML data
structure (schema) for recording bookbindings.

The courses are taught in English and each is open to 12
participants. Although the courses can be attended individually,
participants are encouraged to attend both courses in order to get a
more complete understanding of the issues discussed, through the
comparison of the wide range of bookbindings considered in each week.
Since these are not beginner-level courses, the participants are
expected to be familiar with bookbinding terminology and have a basic
knowledge of the history of book production in the periods under
discussion. A basic understanding of the use of databases is also
desirable for those who will attend the course in the second week.

Description of courses:

Week 1, European Bookbinding 1450-1830
Tutor: Professor N. Pickwoad
This course will follow European bookbinding from the end of the
Middle Ages to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, using the
bindings themselves to illustrate the aims and intentions of the
binding trade. A large part of the course will be devoted to the
identification of both broad and detailed distinctions within the
larger groups of plain commercial bindings and the possibilities of
identifying the work of different countries, cities, even workshops
without reference to finishing tools. The identification and
significance of the different materials used in bookbinding will be
examined, as well as the classification of bookbindings by structural
type, and how these types developed through the three centuries
covered by the course. The development of binding decoration will be
touched on, but will not form a major part of the discussion.

The course consists of ten 90-minute sessions with slide-show
presentations (over 800 images will be shown). Actual examples of
bindings will be shown in the first four afternoon sessions while the
final afternoon will look at bookbinding terminology and offer the
opportunity for the discussion of questions and issues raised during
the week.

Week 2, Identifying and recording Byzantine bookbinding structures
for conservation and cataloguing.
Tutors: Dr. G. Boudalis and Dr. A. Velios
This five-day course will be divided in two interconnected sessions.
The first session, run by Dr. Georgios Boudalis, will focus upon the
major structural and decorative features of the Byzantine and
post-Byzantine bookbindings and their evolution in time and space.
The relation of these bindings with the early bindings of the Coptic
and other Eastern Mediterranean cultures will be discussed, during
lectures, slide-shows and hands-on sessions. This session will centre
the influences and comparisons of these different bookbindings. It
will consist of eight 90-minute computer presentations supplemented
by hands-on sessions.
The second session will be run by Dr. Athanasios Velios and will deal
with the data management and storage of bookbinding descriptions.
Alongside a brief reference to the relational databases this session
will mainly involve discussions on a) the semantic web and XML, b)
schemas and terminologies for bookbinding descriptions, c) commercial
and open source software options for XML data and d) methodologies
and workflows for collection surveys. A large part of this session
will be devoted to the actual development and use of an XML schema
for recording binding structures. This session will consist of two
90-minutes presentations and eight 90-minutes hands-on workshops.
Basic knowledge of database use is desirable for this course.

The courses are supported by Ligatus and the University of the Arts,
London, with generous help from the Herzog August Bibliothek. We have
therefore been able to reduce the cost of the course for this year to
£320 per week, excluding travel, meals and accommodation.
A number of accommodation options will be provided to the
participants. A detailed schedule of the courses can be sent upon
request. Applications, including a short CV can be submitted online
( For information about
registration please email Ewelina Warner
( and mark the message subject with:
'Ligatus Summer School'. A reading list will be sent to those who
will attend the courses in advance. Deadline for applications is the
11th of June. The participants will be contacted by the end of June.

About the library:
Wolfenbüttel is a small town in Lower Saxony, Germany, located on
the Oker river about 13 kilometres south of Brunswick (Braunschweig),
at the edge of the Hartz Mountains. It became the residence of the
dukes of Brunswick in 1432 but the first known library in
Wolfenbüttel was that of the Duke Julius (1528-1529), the first
protestant ruler of the duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. This library
was transferred in 1618, on the orders of his grandson, Friedrich
Ulrich (1591-1634), to the university of Helmstedt, founded in 1576.
The Herzog August Bibliothek in its present form started its life as
the private library of the Duke August (1579-1666), and by the time
of his death, the library was one of the greatest collections in
Europe, containing 135,000 painstakingly catalogued printed books and
3000 manuscripts.

The library continued to grow under his immediate descendants in
later seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries, with both Gottfried
Wilhelm Liebnitz and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing serving as librarians,
and was then housed in a splendid circular building, finished in
1713, built by the Duke Anton Ulrich, which was the first
free-standing secular library building in Europe. In 1810 the library
of the University of Helmstedt was returned to Wolfenbüttel, and
other notable collections, both from later generations of the ducal
family and other aristocratic families, were added to the Biblioteca
Augusta, as the Duke August’s own collection is known.

The current library building was opened in 1887, and new reading
rooms, exhibition spaces and other facilities have been added in
nearby buildings in more recent times. In 1983, the library was
established as an independent research centre by the State of Lower
Saxony, with an active programme which allows approximately 150
scholars to work in the library each year and the addition of a large
reference collection to support the study of the early books. In
addition, since that time there has been an active programme of
acquisitions of both printed books and manuscripts of all ages,
building on the strengths of the collection and embarking in new
directions. The library is now designated as the national repository
for printed books of the seventeenth century. It is remarkable in
having maintained its collection virtually intact since the
seventeenth century.

A good introduction to the library and its collections can be found
in A Treasure House of Books: the library of the Duke August of
Brunwick-Wolfenbüttel, Wolfenbüttel, 1998.

Ligatus is a research unit of the University of the Arts London with
particular interest in the history bookbinding, book conservation,
archiving and the application of digital technology to these fields.
Ligatus’s main research projects currently include the conservation
of the books in the library of St Catherine’s Monastery on Mount
Sinai and the development of a multi-lingual glossary of bookbinding

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