2016 Chairman’s Council Trip

The 2016 Chairman’s Council trip kicked off in Dublin on April 10. Fionnuala Croke, Director (center front), and Jessica Baldwin, Head of Collections (center back), of the IMG_20160410_095656225_HDRChester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle, showed us treasures from this gem of a library founded by the namesake American philanthropist and entrepreneur.  After tea, Nateghe Moane provided an overview of the collections, which ended with a delightful concert of ancient Irish music.

The following day, Dr. Sandra Collins, Director (second from left), and her staff gave us a tour of the IMG_20160411_055436498National Library of Ireland. There was a marvelous W.B. Yeats exhibit and one on the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising, as well as other historical materials.

After lunch at NLI, Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist for Trinity College, Ireland, current ATBL Advisory Council member and former librarian at the British Library and Harvard Libraries, closed the room for a private viewing of the Book of Kells (video below), followed by afternoon tea at the college.

Early the next morning, we boarded a private coach to Armagh Public Library, the oldest library in Northern Ireland. Dean Gregory Dunston (second from left, below) was our gracious host and his staff showed us a rare first edition of Gulliver’s Travels with Jonathan Swift’s annotations and other newly discovered items among their collections. We then visited the Registry House and St. Patrick’s Cathedral where High King Brian Bora is buried. IMG_20160412_052427884_HDR

The Earl and Countess of Caledon House then invited the Dean and ATBL members to lunch at their castle.  As their property is on the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, they had some fascinating stories to tell about withstanding bombings and bullets. IMG_20160412_102129528_HDRWorking with the Prince of Wales, the Countess and Earl (second and third from left) are using their land in more sustainable ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials and waste.

Next up was Hillsborough Castle, seat of the British government in Northern Ireland and now part of the Historic Royal Palaces. It is in the process of expanding its outreach and education to visitors and the community. IMG_20160413_073555101_HDRPatricia Corbett and Christopher Warleigh-Lack (right) talked about these plans and Stephen Martelli led us through the castle and gardens. In the afternoon, the ATBL group flew from Belfast and met up with additional guests for dinner at the Cambridge City Hotel.

Thursday was a full day. Dr. Stella Panayotova (left, below), IMG_20160414_051313433_HDRKeeper of Manuscripts and Printed Books, of the Fitzwilliam Museum showed us a plethora of rare books and manuscripts, whetting our appetite for a future tour of the museum.

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Then, our good friend Christopher de Hamel (right), Librarian of the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, brought out magnificent rare books and manuscripts followed by a lovely lunch in the Parker Room.

 

Dr. Nicolas Bell (below), Director of Trinity College Library, formerly of the British Library, entranced the group in the afternoon.

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At the end of the day, we returned to London for the much anticipated opening of the British Library exhibition, Shakespeare in Ten Acts.

On Friday, the British Library gave us a curator-led tour of the Shakespeare exhibition, a display by William Frame of Freemasonry materials, lunch hosted by Baroness Blackstone and Roly Keating, American treasures with Phil Hatfield, and tea with the curators. Tessa Smith, long time ATBL member and Vassar graduate, hosted a cocktail party that evening at the University Women’s Club.
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Saturday morning, our final day, Susana Caldeira and Gabriele Rossi Rognoni gave us a tour of the Royal College of Music‘s ancient instruments collection. The trip concluded with lunch at Bistro 190 at the Queensgate Hotel with shared memories and suggestions for future trips.

Eccles Centre News

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Prof. Philip Davies; Catherine Eccles; British Library CEO Roly Keating; Matthew Barzun, US Ambassador to the United Kingdomn; Viscount and Viscountess Eccles

May 2015 Douglas Bryant Lecturer, Matthew Barzun

At the Twentieth Annual Douglas W. Bryant Lecture entitled, “Magna Carta, 1776 and All That,” Ambassador Matthew Barzun reflected on the link between the Magna Carta and whiskey, based on the method by which the drink is made. A complex process, with deceptively simple ingredients, whiskey takes time to mature and produces strikingly different results depending up on the raw materials used and the geography within which it is produced. The Ambassador argued that Magna Carta and its legacy, in the rule of law and political freedom, can be viewed in the same way especially as it has influenced the UK and the US.

Eccles Centre Writers in Residence

The joint winners of the 2016 Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Award are William Atkins, author and editor and Alison MacLeod, novelist and short story writer. Each of the winners is awarded £20,000 and will use the British Library’s collections as research during their residency which started in January 2016.

William Atkins will be researching a new travel narrative exploring the Western concept of the desert using journeys through the American West and other continents. Alison MacLeod will be researching her new novel which is inspired by the 1960 trial of Penguin Books, where the publisher was taken to court for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover.  The story will take place in London and the USA.

Awards for Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013

Andrea Wulf, the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013 has won numerous awards for her book The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt, The Lost Hero of Science. The book was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize 2015 and is shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non–Fiction 2016. It was also chosen as one of the 10 Best Books of 2015 in the New York Times and recently won the Biography Award in the 2015 Costa Book Awards.

Breslauer Lectures

In 2004, the distinguished book dealer and collector Bernard H. Breslauer bequeathed a generous endowment to the ATBL for the acquisition of rare books.  To honor the memory of Dr. Breslauer, the ATBL has established a lecture series in his name.  This series has become an annual event in cooperation with The Grolier Club, a locus of serious bibliophiles and collectors.  With the British Library as their cornerstone, these lectures incorporate a transatlantic bibliophilic theme.

The following lectures have been published into booklets, available for purchase for $25 for non-members, and $12.50 for ATBL and Grolier Club members. Please email atblus[at]gmail.com or call 718-623-0933 to purchase a booklet.

  • 2014  Sarah E. Thomas, Transatlantic Perlustrations: Observations on Two Great Libraries, the Bodleian and the Harvard Library
  • 2011  Baroness Blackstone, From Bones to Bytes: The Development of our Great Libraries
  • 2010  Robert Darnton, The History of Books and the Digital Future
  • 2009  William J. Zachs, Re-Collecting Donald and Mary Hyde: Untold Stories from Their Private Archive
  • 2008  David Alan Richards, The Books He Left Behind: A New Bibliography of Rudyard Kipling
  • 2007  David J. Supino, Collecting Henry James: A Translatlantic Journey
  • 2006  Roger E. Stoddard, B.H.B. in Retrospect

Beloved Board Member Dies

LisavonClemm Headshot ATBL

It is with great sorrow that we mark the passing of our longtime Board member Lisa von Clemm. She passed away peacefully at home on March 3, 2016. Beloved widow of Michael, treasured mother of Stefanie and Charlotte, dearly loved mother-in-law of Will, and devoted and adored grandmother of Oliver, Louie, and Welles.

Her husband Michael served as Trustee of the ATBL first. Lisa then took up his service and was an enthusiastic host of ATBL cocktail parties and a tireless representative at the British Library. She will be missed.

London Memorial Service on Monday, June 27th, 2016 at 3pm
St. George’s Church, Aubrey Walk, London, W8 7JG

Wellesley Memorial Service on Thursday, July 28th, 2016 at 3pm
St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 79 Denton Road, Wellesley, MA 02482

ATBL Meets the Prince of Wales

David Redden, President,  Seana Anderson, Executive Director, and Trustees of the ATBL were invited to the opening of the Magna Carta Exhibition at the British Library on March 12, 2015.  David and Seana, as representatives of the ATBL, were presented to HRH Charles, the Prince of Wales, to receive acknowledgement of ATBL’s $56,000 in support of the Exhibition.  A video from Bill Clinton was played and thanks extended to The New York Public Library for its loan of Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence; and to The US National Archives for its loan of the Delaware copy of the US Bill of Rights, both displayed in the UK for the first time ever.

Magna Carta Exhibition

 Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy

MagnacartaMarking the 800th anniversary of the granting of Magna Carta, the British Library held a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition exploring the history and significance of this globally-recognized document.

When granted by King John in 1215, Magna Carta was a practical solution to a political crisis, but in the centuries since it has become a potent symbol of liberty and the rule of law. This exhibition takes us on a journey from its medieval origins to the modern uses of Magna Carta.

The British Library, as the custodian of two original Magna Carta manuscripts, drew on its rich historical collections to bring to life a story that remains relevant today. Also on display was Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten text of the Declaration of Independence (on loan from the New York Public Library), and an original copy of the US Bill of Rights (on loan from the Library of Congress), together with other key documents and artifacts.

Opened March 13 and closed September 1, 2015.

Spring Library Trips

ATBL New York City Library/Museum Visits

American Museum of Natural History

b10715216_4In April a group of ATBL guests visited the AMNH’s Special Collections Library. This visit was a part of the ATBL’s NYC Library/Museum Special Collection Visitation Series. The ATBL group viewed rare selections from the AMNH’s archives which represent one of the world’s outstanding natural science special collections.

In addition to exquisite natural history and botanical illustrated books, Tom Baione, Harold Boeschenstein Director, Department of Library Services, showed them an original page from Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, early photos of the AMNH building structures, scarce AMNH diorama drawings, and antique maps.

New York Academy of Medicine

t-ny academ medicine-1The second visit in April was to the Coller Rare Book Room of the NYAM.  Arlene Shaner, Acting Curator and Reference Librarian for Historical Collections, and Dr. Lisa O’Sullivan, Director, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health, showed us the science and medical library opened in 1847 that was first used only by physicians, and which is now open to the public.

In a gorgeously renovated rare book room with UV protected glass, shades, climate control and restored cork flooring, ATBL members saw Andreas Vesalius’ De Humani Corporis Fabrica from the 16th century by Andreas Vesalius, referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy.  NYAM has the last re-inking and printing of the wood blocks for this work before they were destroyed by bombing and fire.  They also saw the first set of George Washington’s lower jaw made of hippo ivory and real teeth by Dr. John Greenwood, a fellow of the NYAM; the first culture medallion awarded to Sir Alexander Fleming which contains a penicillin sample; and the first piece of medical printing ever done in New York.

New York Botanical Garden

Botanic GardensThe final spring trip was a beautiful May day at the NYBG, hosted by Susan Fraser, Director, International Plant Science Center, Mertz Library.   ATBL members took a trolley around the Garden which was in full bloom, then visited the Haupt Conservatory with a gorgeous horticultural exhibition featuring an evocation of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor, Maine; and the current exhibit Six Groundbreakers Great American Gardens & the Women who Designed Them at the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Rotunda.

Stephen Sinon, Head of Archives, showed us exquisite and rare books on botany, horticulture and landscaping, including plants, herbs, cookery, and medicines from as early as 1190.  The botanical illustrations were marvelous.   The library assists visiting scholars and graduate fellows whose investigations involve innovative interdisciplinary approaches to areas such as landscape architecture, garden design, urban planning, history of science, art history, cultural anthropology, and environmental studies.