Special Collections at the Science Festival

The Cambridge Science Festival takes place from 10-23 March and is bigger than ever before. The University Library is hosting several talks and interactive events organised by staff from the departments of Rare Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Conservation. Here’s a preview:

Pictures, perspectives and plans (Tuesday 11 March, 17:30-18:30)

Pictures, Perspectives, Plans

An exploration of the changing styles in cartography used to map cities and towns, from the pictorial style and perspective views found in early printed mapping to the development of accurate scale plans, providing the opportunity to view and learn about some fascinating examples of mapping held in the Library’s collections from the fifteenth century to the present day.



Game Change: exploring the design of boardgames old and new (Saturday 15 March, 10:00-12:30)Monopoly board

A display of boardgames from the University Library’s collections including examples from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Find out how to win at “Suffrageto” or learn the rules of “Flick football”. There will also be a chance to get involved and play some more recent boardgames.

‘Goodly bound in pleasaunt coverture’: patterns of bookbinding from the 15th to the 18th centuries (Monday 17 March, 17:30-18:30)

An introduction to early bindings in the Library’s collections.The focus will be on patterns of decoration, from simple fifteenth-century blind-tooled bindings and books personalised with coats of arms, to fragile embroidered bindings and extravagant gilt bindings from Restoration and Georgian England.




“Emprynted in thys maner”: Book design and book production in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Wednesday 19 March, 17:30-18:30)Rare books on shelf

To the modern eye early printed books can be bewildering, but their make-up and appearance are far from accidental. A vast array of external influences, long-standing practices and traditions, commercial imperatives, authorial and editorial decisions and technical innovations and limitations converged in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to create the books we see today. In this seminar curators Laura Nuvoloni and Will Hale will discuss and demonstrate how some of these factors influenced the patterns and structures of early-printed books

Parchment on frameBeasts in the University Library: Patterns in parchment and structures in skin (Saturday 22 March, 11:00-12:30)

What is parchment? A rare chance to explore the science behind this extraordinary material. See how parchment is made and how it has been used in the production of books for hundreds of years. In addition, hear about the latest scientific research into the identification of the animal origin of many manuscripts.



Unfortunately all events are fully booked – with the exception of Game Change, which is a drop-in event suitable for ages 8+ (children must be accompanied). We hope to feature reports on several of the events on the blog so watch this space. If you didn’t get a chance to book this time, the University Library will be hosting more public events during Open Cambridge in September and the Festival of Ideas in October/November.

Guest authors: Lizz Edwards-Waller & Lucy Welch, Reader Services Dept.



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