Countdown to Flickr and Our First Case of “Binding Waste”


With a little less than two weeks to go until we officially launch the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project Flickr site, the pressure and the excitement is brewing! As I continue to hammer away at the Flickr site uploading, tagging, describing, and linking photographs, Sarah and Evan are working hard down in the trenches photographing the books. And let me tell you, they’ve found some interesting things…

Below is an excerpt from Sarah’s blog, which you can also view by clicking here:

With this week came another round of photographing, and a new discovery. As Evan and I were rounding up the books to be photographed, arranging them, and recording all of their elements, I noticed that some of the books were in terrible shape. Many of the books we come across are boxed to prevent further deterioration.

After photographing one of the covers of a particular volume of “History of the Catholic Church” by M. l’Abbé J. E. Darras, I saw that the binding of the book was slowly being separated from its spine wide enough so that I could see the original material that bound the book. What I saw made me do a “double-take”; there was text on the interior of the book binding. What’s stranger is what I thought to be one anomalous and perhaps lackadaisical binding of a book was not the only instance of this binding that I found today:

sul 2 blog

What Sarah and Evan ran into this week is commonly referred to as “binding waste.” With the advent of the print revolution in Europe during the fifteenth century, book binders often used any paper material they could get their hands on both to fix damaged books and bind brand new books hot from the press.

In medieval times, manuscripts were often the most common material used to bind and re-bind books. The Harry Random Center launched the Medieval Fragments Project on Flickr in 2012 with the hopes of identifying binding waste in their collection from medieval manuscripts.

As time went on and manuscripts ran out, old books and newspapers became the next culprits. Needless to say this won’t be the last time we run into binding waste, and you’ll find plenty of it that will need identifying on our Flickr Site starting March 8th! Stayed tuned for more interesting updates on what we’re finding behind the scenes!



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