Ligatus Summer School 2007

Course completed.

Summer school: Identifying and recording bookbinding structures for conservation and cataloguing.

An announcement in Greek can be found here.

Volos (Greece), Municipal Centre for Historical Research and Documentation (DIKI).
10-14 and 17-21 September 2007

Following the success of the course in September 2006 we are pleased to announce the organisation of this year’s course in collaboration with the Ligatus research unit which is based in Camberwell College of Arts (University of the Arts, London).

Conservators and librarians, who work with books on a professional basis, need to understand the structure of their bindings in order to be able to describe them for the needs of cataloguing as well as for making appropriate decisions on issues relevant to conservation treatment, housing, access, etc. This is particularly important for collections of manuscripts and early printed books.

The purpose of the course is to uncover the possibilities latent in the detailed study of bookbinding and is thus aimed to all professionals who handle books which have been bound between the 15th and the early 19th century. The two courses offered in this summer school focus upon two different broad categories of bookbindings: a) the western European and b) the Byzantine and post-Byzantine. The technical and decorative details, as well as the way bookbindings evolved through time and space will be discussed during the individual sessions. Part of the school will be dedicated to the construction of a data structure in XML for recording bookbindings.

The courses will consist of 3 hour morning lectures and 3 hour afternoon hands-on sessions using the collections of the historic libraries of Zagora and Milies in the province of Volos, as well as the collection of the DIKI itself. A visit to the monasteries of the Meteora will also be included.

The language of the courses is English and they are open to 12 mid-career individuals from the fields of book conservation, librarianship or palaeography. In addition, 5 MA book conservation students from Camberwell College of Arts will attend the courses. 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 major categories of bookbindings considered 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 period under discussion. A basic knowledge of database use is also desirable for those who will attend the course on the second week.

Description of courses:

Week 1, 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 slides (over 800 slides will be shown). Actual examples of bindings are shown and discussed to supplement the slides in separate sessions in the historic libraries of Zagora, Milies and DIKI itself.

Week 2, 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 PowerPoint presentations supplemented by hands-on sessions in the libraries of Zagora and Meteora.
The second session will be run by Dr. Athanasios Velios and will deal with the data management and storage of bookbinding information. This session is updated this year to include recent advancements in the use of XML for recording bookbindings. Alongside a brief reference to the relational databases this session will mainly involve discussions on a) the semantic web and XML, b) commercial and open source software options for XML documents, c) job advertising for XML database developers and administrators, and d) long-term preservation of digital XML data. A large part of this session will be devoted to the actual development and use of an XML schema for recording binding details. 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.

Since this year the course is co-organised and partly funded by the Ligatus research unit, Camberwell College of Arts, we are able to offer the course at a lower fee. The cost of the courses is 400 Euros per week excluding meals and accommodation. For the first week, the price includes accommodation for two nights in Zagora with lunch and dinner. It also includes transportation to and from the libraries of Zagora and Milies, reading material, coffee and refreshments during the breaks. For the second week, the price includes an afternoon visit in the library of Zagora and a day trip to the monasteries of the Meteora including lunch. It also includes the use of computers, reading material, coffee and refreshments during the breaks. A number of accommodation options will be provided to the participants. A detailed schedule of the courses can be send upon request. Applications, including a statement of purpose and a short CV should be sent to Ewelina Hebda ( marked in the message subject: 'Volos Summer School'. A reading list will be sent to those who will attend the courses in advance. The participants will be contacted by the end of June. For those attending the course At least 50% of the course fee will have to be paid by the end of July.

Volos is a thriving city of Central Greece, ideally placed by the sea on the roots of mount Pilio, the homeland of the mythical Centaurs. It is very close to the villages of Pilio, including Zagora and Milies, which apart from their libraries are well known for their traditional architecture. Volos is also close to the very important Neolithic settlements of Sesklo and Dimini and the Meteora monasteries complex. Finally, the islands of Sporades are a few hours away by boat from the city.

The Municipal Centre for Historical Research and Documentation (DIKI) is a dynamic centre for the study of all facets of history of the area of Volos and the preservation of all its manifestations including important archives. Its important activities include conferences, exhibitions and publications in related fields.

Ligatus is being established as a research unit of the University of the Arts, London, based in Camberwell College of Art. Ligatus’s main research projects currently include the assessment of the condition of the books in the St Catherine’s Monastery Library in Sinai and the development of and English-Greek glossary of bookbinding terms. The Unit introduces innovative technologies and their application to bookbinding description and bookbinding conservation.