3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

December 15, 2004 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on December 15, 2004.

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3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us


l'Institut d'Histoire du Livre, & Google (?)


Of linkage, between "digital libraries" old & new...

A reminder to everyone of the Book History Workshop being offered in Lyon, April 25-28, by the Institut d'Histoire du Livre and the Rare Book School:

"Topics include: the invention of printing; the most important catalogues, their aims, strengths and weaknesses; the interpretation of colophons; books as physical objects providing evidence of how the printers of incunabula worked (vellum, paper studies; formats; gatherings; signatures; the identification of type and printing house practices); illustration, lay-out and texts; decoration; distribution; early provenance and later collectors. These issues will also be addressed through practical sessions based on the incunabula of Lyon City Library..."

"An examination of typefaces and related letterforms. Topics include: commercial typography and the evolution of decorative display types: Perrin, Whittingham, and the revival of old style typefaces; the types of the private presses; art nouveau: the artist and printmaker as letter designer; Edward Johnston and broad-pen calligraphy; type design for machine production: the American Typefounders Company, Mergenthaler Linotype, Monotype (in the USA and Britain); new types in Germany and France..."

"This course addresses printed ephemera from several different directions, but principally with the needs of the curator, collector and dealer in mind. It will focus on nineteenth-century British and French ephemera, though many of the general issues raised relate to all periods and to material in other languages..."

"The major processes used in the production of ephemera provide the focus of some sessions, and considerable attention will be paid to their identification. They include relief printing from type and wood, intaglio printing, monochrome lithography, chromolithography, relief printing in colour, and the photomechanical processes. Other sessions address particular categories of ephemera: the 19th-century notice and poster, the design and production of forms, label printing, and monochrome jobbing lithography..."

"This course offers a practical introduction to the examination of printed artefacts of the hand-press period, with emphasis on Venetian Renaissance printing, including the figure of Aldus.

"Analytical bibliography began as a working tool for the study of the printed texts of Shakespeare and other dramatists of the Elizabethan (1558-1603) and Jacobean (1603-25) periods. Its pioneers were figures such as A. W. Pollard, R. B. McKerrow and W. W. Greg...

"Practical sessions, organised in small groups, will allow students to see the Renaissance books as a manufactured object and to pick out phenomena that usually escape even practised scholars, such as variants of state and issue, cancellans leaves, set-offs, blind impressions, recurrent damaged type, frisket - bite, standing type, head-lines left in the skeleton, and evidence for setting by formes. Visits to the Lyons Printing Museum and the rare book collections at the Lyons City Library will give the students the opportunity of examining tools, equipment and printed documents at first hand, as well as practice in writing bibliographical descriptions and collational formulae..."

"Since the publication in 1951 of Louis-Marie Michon's La reliure française -- an excellent but sparsely illustrated study which is now, inevitably, rather out of date -- there has been no serious study of French bookbinding as a whole.

"Isabelle de Conihout and Pascal Ract-Madoux aim in their course to fill this gap by offering a close examination of a large number of remarkable bindings from the period 1507-1967. A hundred or so original bindings (and several hundred photographic reproductions) will be presented and described. Although bindings are physically inseparable from the content which they enclose, they also have to be considered as autonomous artefacts. French deluxe bindings in particular have to be considered as works of art as much as historical objects.

"Areas covered by the course include:

"The first three days of the course will finish with a presentation and discussion of a selection of Lyon City Library's most precious bookbindings. Participants will thus have an exceptional opportunity to discover at close quarters highly decorated bindings and discuss them with the tutors.

"The fourth and last day of the course will take place at the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris and will be given over to an examination of this prestigious library's most precious bindings."

** Further details, and registration, may be found at,


And now, about Googlization, and linkages to the above:

As long as we are Googlizing everything, nowadays --

-- the "digitization of everything", the best term I have seen so far for this being "omnigooglization" -- we might do well to consider, yet again, the effects of all this upon "the books" --

"Fewer fingers upon the precious pages", is the first thought which occurs to many: 19th and early 20th c. acid paper collections, yellow and brittle and crumbling, may better be preserved, thereby -- the more which can be digitized, and the more rapidly, the more which then can be squirreled away into low-usage & atmospherically-controlled & inexpensive archives, from which they will emerge only rarely, in the future, and then only into subdued lighting... with soft pencils in use only... and white gloves... all ink pens to be left at the sanctum door...

But "getting to there from here" also presents a problem. Printed books, to be scanned, must be subjected to the various risks presented by sharp-edged machines: including "automatic page turners" -- those being only a little less paper-unfriendly than the saliva - & - occasionally - peanut - butter - besmirched human thumb.

There also are the immense handling difficulties: the de-shelving and re-shelving of ancient book collections -- most of which, by the "80-20 Rule" governing any inventory, may have rested in situ & largely untouched for over a century -- and the ever-present tendency of student bookstack pages to "drop" things, also their arrangement of the old books into interesting configurations, crammed too tightly into interesting containers...

Such transition problems, involved in both the transport and the scanning of these elderly printed items, are being left to "the librarians", per the latest news from the enormous Googleprint project just-announced. Let us hope that this is truly an appeal to "the experts", and not simply a setup of scapegoats: so much can go wrong, in the improper handling of a brittle and crumbling old book... This Googleprint digitization effort may be the greatest service done for Print Culture since Gutenberg, altho not if it damages the books. So let us hope that they'll be careful.

But, if it works... The library "content" of Oxford plus Harvard plus UMichigan plus Stanford plus NYPL should provide the world with some wonderful digital text resources; and may save, for the world, some wonderful artifacts, of the Era Before Bits & Bytes.

There was such an Era, once... as all of us less adept at videogames than others are can well remember...

Joyeux Noël,

Jack Kessler, kessler@well.com






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M. Eiffel

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Last update: January 2, 2005