From China to Cambridge: modification of rare Chinese printed books within Cambridge College libraries

RICHARD, Françoise (2017) From China to Cambridge: modification of rare Chinese printed books within Cambridge College libraries. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 88 - Rare Books and Special Collections.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1692
[img]
Preview
Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.

Abstract

From China to Cambridge: modification of rare Chinese printed books within Cambridge College libraries

Early Chinese printed books have commonly been rebound in western style or otherwise modified as they arrived in western libraries frequently resulting in the loss of some of the books’ original features. When acquired by or donated to libraries en masse, these books tended to be rebound or restored in a similar manner across collections that reflected the style at the time of donation. Here I describe a survey of Chinese printed books from the college libraries of the University of Cambridge revealing a wide variety of approaches to their conservation associated with the sporadic nature of the acquisition of these books and the lack of a coherent policy for re-binding/conserving them. The material evidence found on the bindings, boxes and attached notes of these books reveals unique elements of history, ownership and status of the books, which echoes the foundation and growth of library collections supported by donations from prominent historic personalities. The conservation of the original Chinese material and later western additions poses material and ethical challenges as the very construction of these hybrid volumes, bringing together elements from two distinct book-making traditions, leads to compromises between materiality and functionality.

FOR IFLA HQ (login required)

Edit item Edit item
.