Linda Hall Library Hedgehog Number 68, Winter 2022
From the Linda Hall Library Hedgehog, Number 68, Winter 2022:
As a young librarian, most of my work and the work of the scholars whom I assisted, was devoted to examining the physicality of 500 year old books dating back to the earliest days of printing in Europe. What evidence could each book offer up to tell its story through the centuries? How was it made and of which materials? Where did the materials originate? Whose hands had held it and when did ownership pass from one person to the next? These questions fascinated me then and they still do today.
Several articles in this issue of the Hedgehog are concerned with such evidence and how it can inform our understanding of a book’s history as much as the information contained within a book. An unusual bookplate offers clues to the owner’s identity and profession. Cherubs adorning early printed books serve as devices to explain or convey information to the reader. Playing cards emerging from early book bindings offer a window into early binding practices and the necessity of using available materials. A comparison of the Linda Hall Library’s copies of Galileo’s publications leads to evidence confirming the original owners of these publications.
Elsewhere in this issue the information contained within printed publications takes precedence over the publications’ physical attributes. The role standards played in creating cement, an essential building material, and a look back to the Cold War and a “battle” that placed Soviet antibiotics at the forefront of Soviet microbiology are intriguing articles whose source materials emanated from the Linda Hall Library’s print collections. The printed book continues to be one of our most important cultural artifacts, yielding much more information than readily meets the eye. As I prepare to conclude my nearly fifty-year career of preserving our shared cultural heritage, I do so with the same sense of wonder about the printed artifact’s durability and inscrutability with which my journey began.
Stay well, everybody.
Lisa M. Browar, President
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