Saturday, 30 September 2017

September Visit: The Oldest Trading Bookbinders in the UK

Our first event of the new CLG year was a visit to J. S. Wilson & Son, the oldest trading bookbinders in the UK.  The knowledge of Craft and Thesis Binding has been passed down through generations since 1830 when the firm was established in Trinity Street, Cambridge.   We visited the bindery in the present premises off Wadloes Road where we were warmly greeted by Eric who is the current owner of the firm.

The room was filled with all kinds of different machinery varying from ancient presses to ultra-modern lettering machines. 

Eric showed us the processes a book goes through when it comes in to be bound.  We all took turns to peer in to the sewing machines, watched as he showed us the scarily heavy and extremely sharp guillotine (a piece of machinery costing tens of thousands of pounds which fortunately knows when you are at a safe distance to operate it unlike the older  mechanical version which looked like an instrument of torture!), saw how the end papers are attached, admired the huge range of buckram colours and beautiful leathers used to bind the books and theses and  the presses which ensure the books are ready to be returned.

It was evident that Eric and his colleagues are dedicated craftsmen and each of them has their specialties within the team.  Eric was at pains to show us that his binding is of a high quality and showed us how each book spine is rounded by hand to ensure the book opens without damaging the binding.

Books, journals, papers, theses are all treated to the same careful craftsmanship. The earliest recorded bound and catalogued dissertation held at Cambridge University Library dates back to 1901, and was bound by J. S. Wilson & Son.

We all had a fascinating and extremely interesting evening.  Eric was a wonderful host and has kindly  offered our members the chance to return and make our own books if we would like to have a go.  Do contact the committee  for more details.

Our thanks go to J.S.Wilson  & Son for a most enjoyable visit.

- Post contributed by Kathy Young, Squire Law Library, University of Cambridge

Friday, 8 September 2017

Exciting new programme for 2017-18!

Roll up, roll up for a magical year of library love with the Cambridge Library Group! We have a wonderful programme of talks, visits and meet-ups for the 2017-18 season. Check out the programme tab for more details. A very warm welcome to new and returning members from all of the committee. Fancy joining? It's just £10 for a year's membership, all you need to know can be found on the membership tab above.

Librarians in London: A trip to the Linnean Society

In June, the CLG ventured outside Cambridge to visit the Library and Archives of the Linnean Society of London, housed in the beautiful Burlington House.

The Linnean Society, a renowned biological society founded in 1788, is home to much of the collections of Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), the Swedish naturalist and botanist world famous for his groundbreaking work on taxonomy.

The Linnean society’s founder, Sir James Edwards Smith (1759-1828), purchased the collection from the then deceased Linnaeus’ wife in 1784. According to Librarian Lynda Brooks, who was kind enough to give us a tour, legend tells that the King of Sweden was so outraged that the collection was leaving its native country he ordered a ship after it in an attempt to bring it back.

The collection itself is a rich mix of books (both Linnaeus’ own publications and his personal library), manuscripts, and natural specimens, including insects, butterflies and plants - even dried fish! Giant beetles, colourful butterflies, and delicate flowers are all strikingly well preserved. 

 As well as seeing the Linnean collection, we had the chance to look round the society’s elegant library, home to much old and modern material on natural history and related sciences.
Many of the items in the Linnean collection have been digitised and can be viewed online, via the Linnean Society’s website:

-          This blog post was contributed by Emily Downes, former CLG Membership Secretary