Ligatus Summer School 2015

Course completed.
  • 7 – 11 September: The History of European Bookbinding 1450-1830.
  • 14 – 18 September: Identifying and recording bookbinding structures of the Eastern Mediterranean.

This year’s Ligatus Summer School will take place in the beautiful city of Zagreb in Croatia, and will be hosted by the Croatian State Archives.

This year's summer school has been solely funded by the hosting institution. We regret that there will be no opportunity to apply for this year's summer school on the Ligatus website because all places have already been filled.

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 that 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, book collectors and all scholars who work with early books, can benefit therefore from understanding 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. While our courses concentrate in particular on the structure and materials of bookbindings, each of the 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 different collections during the afternoons. The second course looks at the development of bookbinding in the eastern Mediterranean and gives instruction in a) the development 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 in Zagreb.

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 Powerpoint presentations (over 800 images will be shown). Actual examples of bindings will be shown in the afternoon sessions in a variety of historic collections in Zagreb.

Week 2, Identifying and recording bookbinding structures of the eastern Mediterranean

Tutors: Dr. G. Boudalis and Dr. A. Velios
This course is divided into two interconnected sessions.
Dr. Georgios Boudalis, will focus on the major structural and decorative features of the different bookbinding traditions which have developed in the eastern Mediterranean –including the Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian and Islamic - with special focus on the Byzantine and post-Byzantine bookbindings. The aim is to follow the evolution of these closely related bookbindings and establish their similarities and differences during lectures, slide-shows and demonstrations of real bookbindings from the collections of the Archives. This part of the course will consist of six 90-minute presentations from Monday to Wednesday.
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 part of this session will be devoted to the Language of Bindings Thesaurus, a documentation system for recording binding structures and the actual recording of specific bindings. This session will consist of six 90-minute presentations from Monday to Wednesday and hands-on workshops on Thursday and Friday.

About the Croatian State Archives

The Croatian State Archives in Zagreb (CSA) is the central archival institution in the Republic of Croatia. It performs archival services related to archival and current records created by state bodies, state and public institutions and enterprises, by corporate bodies, and by families and individuals whose activity covers the whole or a greater part of Croatia, or is of national interest. Its beginnings are symbolically linked to the year 1643, when, according to a decision made by the Croatian parliament, state treasurer Ivan Zakmardi de Diankovec ordered the making of a special Chest of Privileges of the Kingdom for keeping the state's charters, privileges and legal regulations.
Subsequently, it became the national archive and has developed by founding separate units that assume specific roles in the archival service. The CSA today has 160 employees operating within the following departments: the Department for the Protection and Processing of Archival Records, the Department for Information and Communication, the IT Department, the Croatian Film Archives, the Central Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration, the Central Laboratory for Photography, the Department of Comprehensive and Financial Services and the Department of Archives of the Archdiocese of Zagreb.
The Croatian State Archives holds more than 23.500 linear meters of archival records, dating from the 10th century to the present day and arranged into more than 1.850 archival funds and collections, mostly created by central state administration bodies and educational, cultural, health care and military institutions. Particularly significant are records created by Croatian emigrants and by prominent individuals and families belonging to the Croatian cultural circle.

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 thesaurus of bookbinding terms.