Ligatus Summer School 2016

Course completed.

5-16 September (Lisbon, Portugal)

We are pleased to announce that the Ligatus Summer School will take place this year in the historic city of Lisbon. The School will be hosted by the New University of Lisbon, in association with the University of the Arts London, the National Library of Portugal (venue for most of the School sessions) and the Torre do Tombo National Archive.

It will compose of two week-long courses focussing on the history and documentation of historic bindings, with a particular emphasis on structure and materials. Participants may choose to do one or both weeks of the School. For those staying over the weekend of 10-11 September there will be an opportunity to visit the Mafra National Palace outside Lisbon.

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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 book trade, and the provenance of books that are often not available elsewhere. In order to realise this potential, it is important to learn not only the history of the craft but also 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 from understanding the structure and materials of the bindings they encounter and knowing how to record and describe them.

Clear descriptions of bindings are invaluable for the management of library collections, pursuing academic research and making informed decisions about conservation. They 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. Both courses offered in this Summer School look 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). During the afternoons there will be an opportunity to look at examples from different collections. The second course looks at the development of bookbinding in the eastern Mediterranean and gives instruction in a) the development and 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 Lisbon.

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Course outlines:

Week 1 (5-9 September): Identifying and Recording Bookbinding Structures of the Eastern Mediterranean

Tutors: Dr Athanasios Velios and Dr Georgios Boudalis

This course is divided into two interconnected sessions.

In the first section, Dr Georgios Boudalis, will focus on the major structural and decorative features of the different bookbinding traditions that 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 local collections. 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 (CRM); b) standardised vocabularies for book descriptions (SKOS); c) the development of database schemas for both the relational and the hierarchical models; 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 and to 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.

Week 2 (12-16 September): European Bookbinding, 1450-1830

Tutor: Professor Nicholas 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 identifying both broad and detailed distinctions within the larger groups of plain commercial bindings, and to the possibilities of identifying the work of different countries, cities, even workshops, without reference to finishing tools. We will examine identification and significance of the different materials used in bookbinding, along with the classification of bookbindings by structural type, and how these types developed over the period. There will also be some discussion of how binding decoration evolved.

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 Lisbon.

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Course Fees

The School costs £350 per week. Participants can apply to do either one or both weeks.

Please note that course fees cover tuition only. Participants are responsible for arranging their own travel, accommodation, meals etc. during the School.

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About the Hosts

New University of Lisbon (NOVA)

Founded in 1973, the New University of Lisbon is one of Portugal's leading universities. Since 2006, NOVA’s Faculty of Science and Technology has offered courses in Conservation-Restoration and Conservation Science at BA, MA and PhD level. The department has expertise in a wide variety of conservation specialisms, including stone, metals, paintings, paper, pottery, textiles and stained glass. There is a particular emphasis on scientific research and technique.

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About the Venues

The National Library of Portugal

Founded in 1796, the National Library of Portugal was an early pioneer of making collections accessible to the general public. The Library collects and preserves Portuguese documentary heritage in many formats, as well as acting as Portugal’s National Bibliographic Agency. Its special collections include rare books and manuscripts, cartography, iconography and music.

Torre do Tombo National Archive

The Portuguese National Archive was established in 1378 as a royal and aristocratic reference archive in the tower of Lisbon castle. It is one of Portugal’s oldest institutions. In 1990 it moved to its current home in the Torre do Tombo building. It is known especially for its unique collection of manuscripts and objects relating to early Portuguese maritime exploration.

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About Ligatus Research Centre (University of the Arts London)

Ligatus is a research centre of the University of the Arts London (UAL) 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 the Language of Bindings (LoB) thesaurus of bookbinding terms.

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Things to do in Lisbon

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back to the time of the Roman Empire. In addition to its historic libraries, popular cultural attractions include the Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery, the São Jorge Castle and the Lisbon Oceanarium.

In September the Lisbon climate is warm and sunny, with temperatures ranging from 18° to 26°C. We look forward to an excellent Summer School in this charming and hospitable city!