SULAIR Home's blog

Upcoming Project featuring the Papers of Europe's First Female Professor

scan_bassi_news.jpg The Digital Production Group is very excited about an upcoming project featuring the personal papers of "Laura Bassi, a noted 18th-century Italian scientist and Europe's first female professor, " with Project Manager Cathy Aster at the helm.

More information to come, but in the meantime take a look at this recent article in the Stanford University News.

Currently in the labs - Materials from the Monuments of Printing Exhibition, Part 1

Re-Posted from the Special Collections and Archives Exhibits Program listing -

The Monuments of Printing Exhibition highlights first 250 years of printing in the West

MonumentsOneCorrexRGBX300x400.jpgJohannes Gutenberg's printing of a Bible from movable type in Mainz, Germany in 1455 marked the beginning of a communication revolution in the West. Printers were able to reproduce texts efficiently in quantities virtually unimaginable to a scribe. Monuments of Printing: from Gutenberg through the Renaissance, the first of two exhibitions spanning five-hundred years of printing history, demonstrates the development of typography and printing in Europe over a 250-year period as seen in selected works in the rare book collections of the Stanford University Libraries. The exhibition will open Monday, August 1, in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda on the second floor of the Bing Wing of Green Library, Stanford University, and is free and open to the public.

A leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, displayed with a lectern bible manuscript exemplar, and a volume printed in 1702 with type designed for Louis XIV, bookend the exhibition of some forty titles. In between, the exhibition explores the roots of and influences on letterforms, printing, and book design in Europe in the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, and shows work by some of the great European printers, Nicolas Jenson, Aldus Manutius, the Estienne family, and Simon de Colines among them. Highlights include Euclid's Elements (1482) by German printer Erhard Ratdolt; the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili , printed in Venice in 1499 by Aldus Manutius and considered one of the most beautiful early printed books, the Complutensian Polyglot Bible (1514-1517), printed in parallel columns in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek type, and the 1641 Virgil printed by the Imprimerie royale, one of many fine productions of France's state press.

Monuments of Printing: from Gutenberg through the Renaissance will be on display from August 1 through November 27, 2011. The second exhibition, Monuments of Printing: from Caslon through the Book Arts Revival, will be on display December 5, 2011 through March 18, 2012.

Exhibit cases are illuminated Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. The gallery is accessible whenever Green Library is open and hours vary with the academic schedule. For Library hours, call 650-723-0931.

NOTE: first-time visitors must register at the south entrance portal to Green Library's East Wing to gain access to the exhibition in the Bing (west) Wing. For a map of campus and transportation information, go to

New Images of Rare Books and Digitization Devices

New images have been added to the DPG Flickr site!  Click the photos below, and take a look at our Rare Book section, and the section devoted to the Atiz Book Digitization Device.

The lay of the last minstrel, a poem; by Walter Scott.Atiz Book Digitization Device

These photos were taken by DPG's Wayne Vanderkuil and Doris Cheung.

Presidents Factor Heavily in the Wake of Presidents Day

Lincoln Papers on flickrSan Jose Mercury NewsIt seems, as of late, that the Green Library has been abuzz with rare books and ephemera of a Presidential persuasion. This is to be expected, as the current Library Exhibition focuses on The American Enlightenment, and features a copy of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, which has the signatures of both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It also highlights some other noteworthy items from the Special Collections, which are displayed in the cases along the Library’s rotunda and halls. American History Professor Caroline Winterer, Special Collections' Exhibition Manager and Designer Elizabeth Fischbach, and Curator of Rare Books John Mustain selected every item to help flesh out an understanding of how certain aspects of the Enlightenment in Europe were interpreted across the seas -- ranging from fashion, to science, art and architecture and all other areas of life -- during that particular time period. The various display cases serve to illustrate different facets of these new ways of thinking, and also serve as a framework for the incredibly beautiful and well researched exhibition catalog and accompanying exhibition website. Indeed, the exhibition has been receiving a lot of attention from visitors and scholars, and was recently featured in an article by the San Jose Mercury News.

In a lecture that Professor Winterer gave on the curatorial preparation that went into the exhibition, she described how difficult it was to decide which books to include. She explained how the exhibition team selected items based on their content and the contributions that they made to the overall themes, not based purely on their outward aesthetic, as the old adage would remind us.

"The books are quirky like people," she said, "some of them are boring until you get to know them."

And the exhibition does just that -- it allows visitors to fully engage with the materials they selected to showcase, and encourages them to allow themselves to be fully immersed in what were once such revolutionary concepts.  As with the visitors, it was a treat for the Digital Production Group to be so personally engaged with these remarkable historical items while we provided the images needed to execute the exhibition team's vision. All of the images produced for the exhibition and accompanying catalog may be viewed in the American Enlightenment section of the Stanford University Libraries Image Gallery space. While almost all of the books were quite rare and fragile, one of the most lovely was also one of the most unwieldly to work with because of it's enormous size: Mark Catesby's 1754 The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands was definitely a two-person job. Almost two feet in height, the book needed a very sturdy support structure to hold it open at the perfect angle to capture the image -- while being careful not to hold it so far open that the pages lying flat would start to pop up. The weight of the book alone made it challenging even to locate the selected pages, so that one person would have to hold the accumulating pages while the other would turn them. Working with these kinds of materials always requires very slow, focused, and deliberate movements, with a consciousness of where one's hands and fingertips are at all times. Often, when imaging the most fragile items, we will have one person who is exclusively "hands on," and another who is on the computer inputting file names and making sure the images are perfect. With hundreds of files, multi-leveled metadata, and images going into a web environment, the project was far more complex to execute than the seemingly simple piles of beautiful old books would immediately suggest.

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