Historic Libraries in Context - The Derry & Raphoe Diocesan Library: Past, Present and Future - 6-8 June 2011

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University of Ulster - Magee Campus
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Historic Libraries in Context
The Derry & Raphoe Diocesan Library: Past, Present and Future
The University of Ulster – Magee Campus
6-8 June, 2011

This conference, organized by the University of Ulster, coincides with the conclusion of the Derry & Raphoe Diocesan Library Project, a 3.5 year project to conserve and publicize a collection heretofore relatively unknown to modern scholarship. The aim of the conference is to engage with bibliographers, historians and conservators to identify future avenues for research. Access and care strategies for this type of collection reflect the aspects of book culture (textual, material, symbolic etc.) valued by different groups of users, but we must also expect them to be challenged by future, as yet unknown, stakeholders. We hope to generate an interdisciplinary discussion about the current and possible future uses of such libraries and the curatorial and preservation issues that have been raised over the course of the project.

Submissions for papers (to be presented at the conference and with a possibility to be published as peer-reviewed post-prints) are requested to address the following topics and themes:

The role of the diocesan (or cathedral) library, then and now
• Creation and history of the libraries
• Post-reformation church libraries
• The Bishops and their collections (e.g. Downame, Hopkins, King)

The Irish book trade & the antiquarian book trade in the second half of the 17th century
• history of printing and publishing
• temporary/ephemeral bindings
• the use of manuscript as waste material in bindings
• acquisition and ownership networks
• Irish & European bookbinding: identification of local materials and techniques

Preservation & Access
• Conservation tailored to the collection
• Making minimum intervention work in the Reading Room
• The Museum of the Book
• Embedding historic libraries into the fabric of local communities: advocacy and outreach

The conference organizing committee welcomes submissions from all relevant disciplines, and from approaches that are theoretical or practical, case-studies or of general application. Please send an abstract of no more than 350 words to Jennifer Jarvis, Project Director, at j.jarvis@ulster.ac.uk. Submissions will be accepted until November 1st, 2010 and prospective speakers will be notified within 10 days thereafter. More information about the project can be found on our website, www.derryraphoelibrary.org. Should you wish to consult the Derry & Raphoe Library in preparation of your paper, please contact Joe McLaughlin, University Archivist & Rare Books Curator, at jfe.mclaughlin@ulster.ac.uk. Any other queries may be addressed to the Project Director. Speakers will have all conference fees waived and their travel expenses reimbursed.


The library, today numbering roughly 5,600 printed books and pamphlets ranging in date from around 1480 to 1900, was formally founded in the early 18th century and incorporated the collections of earlier bishops of Derry, notably Ezekiel Hopkins. It was intended to provide the then Diocese of Derry with a reading library that could be used by successive Bishops, and later by all Diocesan members. Most of the books in the Derry Library were printed in the 16th and 17th centuries, whereas the Raphoe Diocesan Library, added to the Derry collection in 1881, dates mostly from the 18th century. Both exemplify the intellectual links between Derry and the wider world during an important period in the city's history. Today the amalgamated library is under the guardianship of the University of Ulster, through a long-term agreement with the Diocese.

A large number of books still retain contemporary or near-contemporary bindings. This happy circumstance offers a rare opportunity to study aspects of their construction, to appreciate them as artefacts and to uncover the histories of their ownership and movement within the larger European book trade. Many avenues of study pertaining to the history of the book in Britain and Ireland have already been identified in preliminary reports undertaken prior to the conservation project; others undoubtedly remain to be uncovered.