Ligatus news

Break-up of Mendham collection

From the website. Sign the petition here.

Canterbury Cathedral and the University of Kent have joined forces in a bid to prevent a unique historic collection of several thousand manuscripts, early books, and pamphlets being broken up.

The Mendham Collection, which is owned by the Law Society of England and Wales, contains about 5,000 invaluable items including medieval manuscripts, rare books and unique copies of some of the earliest books to have ever been printed. It has been held under the custodianship of the University and Cathedral for nearly thirty years.

Despite an agreement that Cathedral and the University will retain the custodianship of the Collection until the 31 December 2013, the Law Society has given notice of its instruction to Sotheby's to remove the most valuable items on 18 July 2012 as part of a fundraising drive.

The collection was formed in the nineteenth century by Joseph Mendham, an Anglican clergyman with a keen interest in the history of theology. Since 1984 this collection has been accessible through the Cathedral to students and researchers from around the world. A full scholarly catalogue was published with public funds from the British Library in 1994; a condition of the funding was that the collection should not be dispersed.

The collection was donated by the Mendham family to the Law Society at the end of the nineteenth century on the understanding that it would be kept intact, and both the Cathedral and the University are deeply saddened by the Society's disregard for the family's wishes as well as its determination to break up a collection of such national significance.

Dr Alixe Bovey, Director of the University's Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, said: 'The collection is a valuable witness to the development of Protestantism and Catholicism, and the tensions between them, from the time of the Reformation up to Mendham's lifetime.

‘The imminent removal of the most valuable items will cause irreparable damage to the coherence and richness of this historic collection. While we appreciate the need for the Law Society to raise funds, we ask that the Society works with us to find a way to preserve this invaluable collection.'

The University has a world-wide reputation for its work in medieval and early modern research and offers a number of postgraduate programmes including an international doctoral programme in early modern studies which is funded by the European Union under the Erasmus Mundus scheme.

UAL awards Chris Clarkson an Honourary Doctorate

It is with great pleasure that we can record that Christopher Clarkson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate on 16 July by the University of the Arts London, in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the conservation of parchment and paper manuscripts, early printed books and book-bindings. It was an occasion on which to remember his first contact with the then independent Camberwell College of Arts and Crafts as a 13-year-old schoolboy and to mark his continuing dedication to the education of young conservators not only in the United Kingdom but across the world. In doing so he has kept alive and carried on the work of Sidney (“Sandy”) Cockerell and Roger Powell, taking his skills to the Library of Congress, the Walters Art Gallery and the Bodleian Library, amongst other institutions. He was heavily involved in such events such as the rescue of the flooded libraries in Florence in 1966 and the repair of such famous material as the Codex Sinaiticus and the Hereford Mappa Mundi. The continuation of traditional skills did not prevent innovative developments, such as perspex exhibition cradles for books and the stepped wedge foam-block book supports for general reading room use. He has always striven to instil the highest standards not only of craftmanship but also of historical awareness, and this he emphasised in his brief address after receiving the award. In 2004 he was awarded the Plowden Gold Medal of the Royal Warrant Holders Association in recognition of his significant contribution to the advancement of the conservation profession. An extract from the citation reads, “… Chris's contribution to training and educating young conservators around the world has lead to the invaluable dissemination of his approach to conservation and the paradigm of minimal intervention. As an archaeologist of the book, his teachings have fostered a deep historical awareness of the object, requiring profound knowledge of a wide variety of materials and a broad repertoire of techniques…”.

The award made yesterday was the first time that the university had offered such a distinction to a book conservator, and it is a fitting tribute to a remarkable man and a remarkable – and continuing – lifetime of work.

For more details of his career, see:

Ligatus Summer School 2012

Identifying and Recording Bookbinding Structures for Conservation and Cataloguing
The History of European Bookbinding 1450-1830

Institut National du Patrimoine and Centre Culturel des Irlandais
3-7 and 10-14 September 2012

The 7th Ligatus Summer School, following the success of the courses in Volos, Patmos, Thessaloniki, Wolfenbüttel and Venice, is to be held this year in collaboration with the Institut National du Patrimoine and the Centre Culturel des Irlandais in Paris. We are delighted to announce the summer school this year in Paris, a city with a long tradition in the study of the history of the book. This year students will have the opportunity to see bindings from historic collections in the city, including the Centre Culturel des Irlandais, the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal and the Bibliothèque Richelieu. Also, this year, the structure of the summer school has been enriched to include new developments in the field and more extensive hands-on sessions. Paris is a centre of culture in Europe and a city which always inspires creativity and academic excellence. Join us for this year’s summer school to learn more about books and their documentation in this beautiful city.

Summer school context:

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 circumscribed.
The main purpose of the summer school is to uncover the possibilities latent in the detailed study of bookbinding and it mainly focuses on books that were 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 development of bookbinding in the eastern Mediterranean and gives theoretical and hands-on training in a) the manufacture of specific aspects of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine bindings and b) the development of methodologies and tools for recording bindings, working with examples from the collections. The second 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 different collections during the afternoons.

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 first week.

Description of courses:

Week 1, Identifying and recording bookbinding structures
Tutors: Dr. G. Boudalis and Dr. A. Velios

This five-day course is divided into two interconnected sessions. The sessions on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are shared by Dr Velios and Dr Boudalis, but this year participants of this course will be asked to select one of two concurrent sessions for both Thursday and Friday.

Dr. Georgios Boudalis, will focus on the major structural and decorative features of Byzantine and post-Byzantine bookbindings and their evolution in time and space. The relationship of these bindings with the early bindings of the Coptic and other Eastern Mediterranean cultures will be discussed, during lectures, slide-shows and demonstrations of real bookbindings from Parisian collections. This part of the course will concentrate on the influences of and comparisons between these different types of bookbinding. It will consist of six (shared) 90-minute presentations from Monday to Wednesday, supplemented by a two day workshop on Thursday and Friday during which participants who chose to attend will bind a small book in the Byzantine technique.

The other part of the course will be taught by Dr. Athanasios Velios and will deal with the methodologies and techniques that can be used to record bookbindings. After an introduction on the capacity and scope of each methodology and technique, this session will focus on a) the semantic web and the CIDOC conceptual reference model, b) standardised vocabularies for book descriptions (SKOS), c) the development of database schemas for both the relational and the hierarchical model, d) the advantages of various implementation tools and e) photographic records and workflows for large collection surveys.
A large part of this session will be devoted to the actual development and use of a sample of a bookbinding glossary, a documentation system for recording binding structures and the actual recording of specific bindings. This session will consist of six (shared) 90-minute presentations from Monday to Wednesday and eight 90-minute hands-on workshops on Thursday and Friday for those students who chose to attend them. A basic knowledge of the use of databases is desirable for this course.

Week 2, 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 Powerpoint presentations (over 800 images will be shown). Actual examples of bindings will be shown in the afternoon sessions.

The courses are supported by Ligatus and the University of the Arts London, with generous help from the Institut National du Patrimoine and the Centre Culturel des Irlandais. We have therefore been able to reduce the cost of the course for this year to £350.00 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 e-mail Karen Di Franco ( ) and give the e-mail subject as: 'Ligatus Summer School'. A reading list will be sent in advance to those who will attend the courses. The deadline for applications is 1 July. The participants will be contacted by the end of July.

About the Institut National du Patrimoine:
The Institut National du Patrimoine (INP) is a higher education institution of the Ministry of Culture and Communication. Its mission is to recruit and train curators for public institutions and to train conservators. The five-year conservation programme is divided into seven main fields: Painting, Sculpture, Textile, Objects (metal/ceramics/glass/enamel), Furniture, Photography and Book and Paper. The INP also offers a wide range of training sessions for professionals and organises conferences on cultural heritage.
2, rue Vivienne – 75002, Paris

About the Centre Culturel Irlandais:
The Centre Culturel Irlandais is located in the historic Latin quarter in Paris, in the 5th arrondissement. As well as its diverse programme of events, the CCI offers residencies for Irish artists and Irish language courses, as well as being home to the Irish Chamber Choir of Paris. The brief of the Centre Culturel Irlandais is to show a wide range of art forms, including visual art, film, literature, music and combinations of all of these.
The Old Library of the Irish College, built between 1772 and 1775, is one of the few surviving library rooms of the many colleges, convents and monasteries which were situated in the Montagne Sainte-Genevieve area of Paris until the end of the 18th century. However, the original library collection was entirely lost during the French Revolution. The current collection consists of almost 8000 volumes, consisting of printed books and manuscripts, half of which were written or published between the 15th and the 18th centuries.
5, rue des Irlandais 75005, Paris

About Paris in September 2012:
In the first weeks of September, Paris is in transition between the last days of summer and the surge of activity bought about by the general return to work after the very quiet month of August. The weather is usually as nice as in the summer but the city starts again as the new school year does and as French administrative life resumes. This concept of rentrée extends to literary, theatrical, cinematic and all the art-related and commercial activities, offering a great many new exhibitions and events of all sorts. One of the major events is the Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage days: 15-16 Sept.) during which museums and historical monuments, such as libraries, usually closed to the public, offer free access, guided tours and workshops. This year’s topic is “les patrimoines cachés” (hidden heritages).
Find out more here:

About Ligatus:
Ligatus is a research centre of the University of the Arts London with particular interest in the history of bookbinding, book conservation, archiving and the application of digital technology to the exploration and exploitation of 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 thesaurus of bookbinding terms.
Find out more about Ligatus here:

New post: Research Technician (Digital Resources Administrator)

Position Type: Temporary - Part time
Salary: £26,167 - £31,943 per annum
Closing Date: 18/04/2012

Job Overview

3 Years Fixed Term Contract
Part time 0.5 FTE, 20 hours
CCW Research – Ligatus

Why choose us?

University of the Arts London is a vibrant world centre for innovation, drawing together six Colleges with international reputations in art, design, fashion, communication and performing arts. ‘Ligatus’ conducts world-leading research into bookbinding history, archiving, conservation and digitisation. We have a successful record in obtaining funding and initiating pioneering projects, including the preservation of the world’s oldest monastic library.

The role

This is a fascinating and varied role that involves publishing, managing and optimising the digitised collections of Ligatus, with special emphasis on quality and consistency. This will involve administering the digitised data from its creation to ingestion in our online management systems. You’ll also specify the requirements of the publishing systems, particularly the development of our image/metadata capabilities, along with our Institutional Repository and IT teams.

Your profile

A graduate with plenty of relevant experience, you’re able to work independently as well as offer the team your considered opinions and expertise. Certainly with a high level of IT competency, you have an impressive knowledge of XML technologies and the ability to administer XML data and XML native databases. Importantly, you’re able to design, code, test, correct and document batch data processing scripts and macro-commands. Attention to detail and a methodical working approach are essential.
In return, University of the Arts London offers generous leave, a final salary pension and a commitment to your continuing personal development and training in an environment that encourages excellence, creativity and diversity. Relocation assistance is available.


Please download an application pack and apply. Please note that C.V.’s submitted without a formal application form will not be accepted for consideration. If you have any queries about this role that are not covered in the documentation available below please contact Adrian Machinn, Staffing Administrator, telephone: 020 7514 8780, email:
University of the Arts London aims to be an equal opportunities employer embracing diversity in all areas of activity.

Open Lecture on Byzantine Bookbinding

Ligatus and CCW Graduate School at the University of the Arts London present an open lecture by George Boudalis "From overcasting to twining: new insights into the making of endbands in the Byzantine bookbinding tradition and their relation to textile weaving".

Monday, 16th April, 5.30pm
Lecture Theatre, Block A
Chelsea College of Art and Design
16 John Islip Street
London, SW1P 4JU
Admission free but please RSVP to e.warner @

This lecture aims to give an overview of the evolution of endband making in the Byzantine bookbinding tradition from the simplest forms to the most elaborate ones using both drawings and photographs. All known types will be considered but special attention will be paid upon the so-called woven endbands, probably the most elaborate and most intriguing ones as they are closely related to techniques originally devised and used in textile making. Finally the use of endbands as a possible hint for the identification of the provenance of bookbindings will be touched upon.

Open Lecture

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Website migration complete

The Ligatus website has now been moved to a new server and we hope that you will notice the dramatic increase of speed. Various details still need sorting but most of the content and functionality should be there. Apologies for yesterday's minor disruption.

Restricted website access

Login to Ligatus's website will be impossible over the weekend and Monday due to planned maintenance. We expect the website to return back to normal operation on Tuesday. In the meantime no content updates will be possible.

Ligatus has moved

Ligatus has moved office. The new address is:

Ligatus Research Centre
CCW Graduate School
University of the Arts London
16 John Islip Street

The Place of Bindings

The Place of bindings

in book history and bibliography: resources and research

This was a two day conference on bookbindings and the study of the history of the book to take place in Oxford on 9-10 June 2011, organised by Ligatus, the Centre for the Study of the Book and CERL and supported by Saint Catherine Foundation. The first day consisted of a series of short papers describing some of the printed and on-line resources for binding studies currently available and the day will end with an evening lecture by Anthony Hobson. The second day was a day-long series of discussions raised by the study of bindings, involving an invited audience.
Speakers of the Place of Bindings conference

The aim of the conference is to try to bridge the gap that exists between the study of bindings and the rest of the bibliographical world, with the result that bindings do not play the interpretative role that they might in the study of the history of the book. They are all too often seen as lying somewhat outside traditional areas of bibliographical research and there are two main reasons for this - firstly, that many people do not fully realise what can be learnt from bindings, both decorated and undecorated, about where, when and by what sort of person a book might have been read, and secondly, even if they are interested, very few people know how to identify and describe what they see in a reliable and consistent manner.  While a great deal of work has been done for many years on the description of the tools used to decorate bindings, the recorded tools still form a small minority of those used and structures and materials remain largely unrecorded. Where they have been recorded (e.g. covering materials) this has often been done inconsistently and all too often inaccurately. The conference is designed to address the questions raised by bringing bindings closer to the centre of the study of the book – a proposition made more urgent these days as the study of the history of the book gains ground in academic circles.

The conference goes under the title “The Place of Bindings”,  and the discussion is intended to bring together a group of 40-50 people from across Europe and from the U.S.A., all of whom are in some way closely involved in handling early books, whether as academics, binding historians, binders, librarians, rare book cataloguers, library managers or booksellers, to discuss the place of bindings in the wider bibliographical world and what would be needed to integrate them more closely in what might be called mainstream bibliographical studies. There are several things that need to happen to make this possible – firstly a commonly-agreed language and format with which to describe them, a means by which bindings can be identifed and located in collections (which means essentially the inclusion of, or links to, useful descriptions of them in rare-book catalogues) and how the electronic world may make the integration of different catalogues and databases easier to use and more useful.

The discussion amongst the invited delegates was recorded with the aim of producing a short publication summarising the discussions, and listing the conclusions and recommendations.

Both days of the conference were fully booked but it was possible to follow the conference live on twitter (#ligatuspob) Follow Ligatus on Twitter.

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