Ligatus Summer School 2019

Course completed.

16-20 and 23-27 September
The 2019 Ligatus Summer School will take place in Krems, Austria, in collaboration with the Danube University Krems and visits to the monasteries of Melk, Zwettl, Kremsmünster and St. Florian.


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.

Week 1 (16-20 September), 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 examined in the afternoons during visits to collections.

Week 2 (23-27 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 second 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. This session will focus on: a) Linked Data, the semantic web and the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM); b) standardised vocabularies for book descriptions (Language of Bindings and SKOS); c) the development of database schemas for book descriptions; d) mapping bookbinding description databases to CIDOC-CRM and publishing Linked Data; and e) photographic records and workflows for large collection surveys. A part of these sessions will be devoted to to the actual recording of specific bindings. This session will consist of a combination of presentations and hands-on workshops.

Course Fees

Course fees are €350 per person per week.
Please note that course fees cover tuition only. Participants are responsible for arranging their own travel, accommodation, meals etc. during the School. However, the Danube University is able to offer accommodation at a special price for the School participants. Please contact for more information.

About the Danube University Krems

Danube University Krems is one of the pioneering institutions in Europe in the field of university-based advanced education, and is a specialized institution in the sector of lifelong learning. The teaching and research of the University focuses on the social as well as organizational and technical challenges of current times, and is developing innovative courses on an ongoing basis. The University for Continuing Education is specifically focused on interdisciplinary cross-linking and future-oriented special sectors.
The University hosts the “European Research Centre for Book and Paper Conservation-Restoration at the Zentrum für Kulturgüterschutz” at the Department for Bauen und Umwelt. which was founded in March, 2010. It was created on the initiative of the community of conservator-restorers, archivists, librarians and other professionals all over Europe, who saw an urgent need to foster research in book and paper conservation in order to be able to rescue the graphic and written heritage more effectively. Through the Centre's activities, researchers and students inspire each other and work for the well-being of our common written and graphic heritage.

About the city of Krems

The city of Krems is an ideal destination in September. September coincides with the wine harvest, the sun is still warm and reveals the picturesque landscape of the Danube valley in its full beauty.

About Ligatus

Ligatus undertakes work in the history of bookbinding, book conservation, archiving and the application of digital technology to the exploration 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.