Ligatus Summer School 2013

Course completed.

The History of European Bookbinding 1450-1830
Identifying and recording bookbinding structures of the Eastern Mediterranean.

26 – 30 August and 2 – 7 September 2013
University of Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden

The 8th Ligatus Summer School, following the success of the courses in Volos, Patmos, Thessaloniki, Wolfenbüttel, Venice, and Paris is to be held this year at Uppsala University in Sweden, where we have access to its magnificent library. The university was founded in 1477, and it is the oldest university in Sweden, and still dominates the old centre of the city, itself historically an important archiepiscopal see and trading centre. The University Library's collections of early printed books are made up of donations, ‘war booty’ (from the conquests of Gustavus Adolphus in the Thirty Years’ War and including the greater part of Copernicus' own library), purchases and a large collection of Swedish editions, which is particularly comprehensive because of the system of legal deposits that was introduced at the end of the seventeenth century.
The library holds a copy of Sweden's oldest printed book, 'Dyalogus Creaturarum Moralizatus', printed in Stockholm in 1483, as well as the first book published in the Swedish language, 'Aff Dyäffwlsens Frästilse' ("On the temptations of the devil"), printed in 1495. There is also a notable collection of school textbooks from the seventeenth century up to the present day.
Printed books and manuscripts from the library will be shown in both weeks of the summer school, and additional visits to the libraries of Count Carl Gustaf Wrangel in Skokloster Castle and Charles de Geer at Leufstabruk are planned for the first week.

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. 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 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 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.of the Uppsala University Library.

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. For the second week participants will need to have familiarity with hand bookbinding and where possible, a basic understanding of the use of databases.

Reading list is available here:

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.

Week 2, Identifying and recording bookbinding structures of the eastern Mediterranean
Tutors: Dr. G. Boudalis and Dr. A. Velios

This six-day course is divided daily into two interconnected morning and afternoon 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 University of Uppsala Library. This part of the course will consist of six 90-minute presentations from Monday to Wednesday, supplemented by practical bookbinding workshop sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Dr. Athanasios Velios will address methodologies and techniques that can be used to record bookbindings. After an introduction on the capacity and scope of each methodology and technique, this section 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 section of the course 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. These sessions will consist of six 90-minute presentations from Monday to Wednesday and hands-on workshops on Thursday and Friday.

The courses are supported by Ligatus and the University of the Arts London, with generous help from the Library at Uppsala. The cost of the course for this year is £375 per week for early payments, £425 for payments made after 1 August. This fee excludes travel, accommodation and meals.

A number of accommodation options will be provided to the participants. A detailed schedule of the courses will be available very soon. 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.

About Uppsala:
The historic city of Uppsala is just 40 minutes by train from Stockholm and is home to Sweden’s oldest university. The city is divided by the Fyris River into two parts, the historic quarter to the west of the river and the administrative, residential and commercial area to the east. Most of the features of interest are in the western part, dominated by the Cathedral, which is Sweden’s largest church, and with its old streets, river views and parks. Close to the Cathedral is the main university building; built in 1624 it now contains the Museum of Nordic Antiquities, the Victoria Museum of Egyptian Antiquities and the University's cultural history collections. Not far from here is the University Library where the Summer School will take place; built in 1820–41, it is the largest library in Sweden and home to over 5 million volumes and some 60,000 manuscripts. As a thriving university city Uppsala is host to many cultural and social events and will be an interesting destination.

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: