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, 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.


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.


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.

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.

Tribute to Chairman of ATBL

ImageLansing Lamont (left) was born in New York City March 13, 1930, and attended Milton Academy, Harvard College (A.B.), and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (M.S.).   He served in the U.S. Army Infantry and rose to First Lieutenant.  He was a reporter for the Washington D.C. Star, then a Washington and foreign correspondent for TIME Magazine 1961-1975.   In the 1980s he was Vice-President of the Americas Society and directed its Canadian Affairs program, widely recognized as the country’s preeminent public forum addressing Canadian-American issues. 

At the time of his death from cancer suddenly on September 3, 2013, Lansing was Chairman of the American Trust for the British Library. Author and editor of seven books, including Day of Trinity (1965), the best-selling narrative history of the first atomic bomb test. His third book Breakup (1994) was cited by The New York Times as one of the year’s most notable books. Longtime trustee and honorary trustee, American Museum of Natural History; also Milton Academy. William Cullen Bryant Fellow, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Member, Council on Foreign Relations; Carnegie Council; Century Association; Harvard Club of New York City. Avid birder, sailor, skier and jazz pianist. A memorial service was held at St. James Church attended by his devoted wife of 59 years, Ada Jung Lamont, four children, a brother and a sister; twelve grandchildren; and numerous colleagues and friends.  


2012 Chairman’s Council London Trip

Chairman’s Council Trip Group

The 2012 annual ATBL Chairman’s Council trip to London was held in early March to allow participants to view the magnificent exhibition Royal Manuscripts:  The Genius of Illumination before it closed.

Opened by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in a signature event of the Jubilee Year, Manuscripts offered a splendid visual insight into how the royals worshipped, governed and played over the past centuries.

BL curator Scot McKendrick briefed CC members on the exhibit and introduced them to the ATBL-sponsored interns who helped put the exhibit catalogue online.

The trip started with an evening cocktail party at the home of Trustee Ruth Robinson where BL staffers, American residents in London and ATBL donors renewed friendships.  Next day the BL hosted a series  of viewings and talks.  Curator Peter Barber brought out millions of dollars’ worth of maps, including the earliest views of Manhattan and a preview of what will be traveling to the United States.


Members listen to Baroness Blackstone.

Baroness Blackstone greeted guests and gave a progress report on the successes and challenges the Library faces.  Dame Lynne joined members for lunch and members bid a fond farewell to this extraordinary woman who has led the Library so well for the past twelve years.

Baroness Blackstone and John Heald

Baroness Blackstone and John Heald

After Scot McKendrik’s briefing on the exhibit, the members toured the show and bought the substantial catalogue as a memento.  Following the tour, John Heald, Vice Chairman of the Sir John Betjeman Society gave us a talk on the poet and played Sir John speaking and reciting some of his pastoral poetry.  Mr. Heald then led us over to the St. Pancras Station to view the Betjeman statue erected to thank Sir John for his efforts in saving the Station.  Members then had tea at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, whose matching brick facade the BL mirrors.

The Friends of the British Library, the parallel group in England, invited the members to an evening lecture by the Bishop of London on “Common Prayer, Culture and the Challenge of the Digital Age.”  Christopher Wright, Deputy Chairman of the Friends, was our very gracious host and invited us to stay for the reception afterwards.

Early Map of Manhattan

Early Map of Manhattan

Early Tuesday morning participants boarded a luxury coach for breakfast during the trip to Petworth House and Gardens.  Petworth is a magnificent 17th-century National Trust mansion in Sussex, set in a beautiful deer park, landscaped by Capability Brown.  Inside, the house contains the National Trust’s finest collection of paintings, with numerous works by Turner, Van Dyke, Reynolds and Blake, ancient and neo-classical sculpture, fine furniture and carvings by Grinling Gibbons.

"Turner Studio" in private library at Petworth House.

“Turner Studio” in private library at Petworth House.

Members were allowed to see the private library where Turner painted and Lord Egrement, whose family is in residence, invited us to visit him in his private rooms.  Members had lunch in the Café in the servant’s quarters which contains fascinating kitchens, including a copper batterie de cuisine of more than 1,000 pieces.

Members spent the afternoon in Winchester, first at a tour of Winchester Cathedral and Library where arguably the finest treasure in England is housed, The Winchester Bible. This is the largest and finest of all surviving 12th century English bibles commissioned in 1160, probably by Henry of Blois, grandson of William the Conqueror.  Half of the group stayed at the Cathedral to view the crypt, relics and monuments and to hear Evensong.

Winchester Cathedral

Dodie Armstrong arranged for the other half to visit Winchester College Library where Dr. Geoffrey Day, Eccles Librarian, displayed first folios of Shakespeare and the entire collection of Trollope.  The Eccles Room is housed in what was the barrel store for the Brewery.  It was opened in 1994 as a Fellow’s Library teaching room, having been refurbished by the generosity of Viscount Eccles, Simon Eccles’s father, who gave his collection of private press books.  The room now houses English literature, Mathematics and Science texts, like Newton’s Principia and Hooke’s Micrographia.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mary Fagen, and her Deputy Lieutenant, Damon de Lazlo, grandson of painter Philip de Lazlo, hosted a splendid reception that evening for the members prior to their returning to London.

Wednesday, the members had lunch at Sotheby’s hosted delightfully by Christopher de  Hamel, Fellow Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.  All agreed that this Chairman’s Council trip was indeed memorable.

Photos: Seana Anderson

Purchase Prints

Chairman’s Council Trip and Tour of British Library

Chairmans Trip Group

Chairmans Trip Group

The 2011 annual ATBL Chairman’s Council trip and British Library tour was held at the end of March for participants to attend the Douglas Bryant Lecture (named for the first Executive Director of The American Trust for The British Library.) This popular lecture series is held under the auspices of the Eccles Centre for American Studies and arranged by its Director Philip John Davies.  Philip Bobbitt, Herbert Wechsler Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the Center for National Security at Columbia University, gave the Sixteenth Annual Bryant Lecture on “Why Men Hate to Talk about Relationships:  The US, the UK, and the Atlantic Alliance.” Following a stimulating and challenging lecture, Chairman’s Council guests enjoyed an intimate dinner at which Professor Bobbitt answered questions.

Baroness Tessa Blackstone

Baroness Tessa Blackstone

Earlier that day, The British Library mounted a splendid information-packed day for our group.  We met the new Chairman of The British Library, Baroness Tessa Blackstone, who outlined her vision for the Library.  She has generously agreed to give the Breslauer VI lecture in New York City on October 17.

Also Dame Lynne Brindley, CEO of the Library, gave us the 2010 highlights and thanked the group for its continued support, especially in light of the government’s cuts in the Library’s budget. One of the projects ATBL is supporting is development of an online gallery marking the 150thAnniversary of the American Civil War.

Matthew Shaw, Curator of North American History, displayed various articles and books that are now available online.  Go to www.http://shop.bl.uk/


Music Manuscripts

Nicolas Bell, Curator of Music Manuscripts, then showed us a selection of Handel’s autograph scores (in preparation for our visit the next day to Handel House in London where George Frideric Handel lived, wrote and rehearsed for 36 years).  He also showed us how the recent loan of Gilbert & Sullivan material from the ATBL strengthened the BL’s music collection. We also saw an original score Mozart wrote and My Ladye Nevells Book of Virginal Music acquired in part through support from the ATBL.

At lunch the ATBL guests were joined by Kathleen Doyle, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts, and the ATBL-sponsored intern Sarah Biggs.

Roger Walshe, head of Public Engagement & Learning, led us on an afternoon tour of an exhibit that the ATBL helped sponsor, entitled Evolving English:  One Language, Many Voices.  This was the first exhibition ever exploring the English language in all its national and international diversity. Iconic collection items were set alongside engaging everyday texts and sound recordings to show the many social, cultural and historical strands from which the language is woven. Valuable Treasures such as the only surviving manuscript of Beowulf, Caxton’s printing of the Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare quartos, and recorded speeches by Pankhurst, Churchill and Gandhi were exhibited together with handwritten letters, posters, lists of slang, the first dictionaries, adverts and dialect and music recordings from around the world. was a fascinating exhibit with audio, visual, interactive games, and recording booths dramatically illustrating this once in a lifetime opportunity to see and hear the English language in all its myriad forms, from 5th century runes to 21st century youth-speak.


David Redden, Jon and Ginny Lindseth at Lambeth Palace

A number of Chairman’s Council participants offered hospitality throughout the week.  Sunday evening Lisa von Clemm opened her home and her lovely garden for cocktails.  Monday evening, after a tour of Lambeth Palace Library and Conservation Tower by Dr. Giles Mandelbrote, Librarian and former British Library curator; the Garden Museum; and Westminster Abbey and Library by Dr. Tony Trowles, head of the Abbey Collection and Librarian, Kate Ashton and Brian Young held a wine and cheese reception to end this full day.


Handel Statue

James Sitrick facilitated a tour of Handel House on Wednesday morning.  Participants then walked around the corner to Sotheby’s, where David Redden had arranged for a magnificent lunch attended by various Sotheby experts, and a preview of a sale of signed first edition American authors.

Some guests attended a concert of the  Susanna oratorio at the Handel House, previewed the Sotheby sale of Islamic Art, and took a tour of St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Station.  Sir John Betjeman, (1906 – 1984) was the Poet Laureate who led the effort to prevent demolition of St. Pancras Station, neighbor of the British Library, the red brick exterior of which was intended to harmonize with St. Pancras.

Chairman’s Council Trip to London and Oxford

Chairman's Council in Oxford

Chairman's Council in Oxford

Those who support the ATBL at the highest level are invited on an annual trip to London to visit the British Library and to spend a day or two at another outstanding library of historic house.

This year the Chairman’s Council trip participants spent time in London and Oxford at the end of June.  Ruth Robinson, ATBL Board member who lives in Dallas, and has a house in Armonk, NY and London, hosted a cocktail party on the first evening.  She welcomed members and guests at her lovely apartment overlooking Cadogan Garden.

Bodleian Library

Monday morning the group took a private coach to Oxford.  After checking in and having lunch, the group met Sarah Thomas, Director of the Bodleian Libraries and then were given a tour by Wilma Minty, who was such a help arranging the Oxford portion of the trip.

They visited the old and new portions of the Library, had a show and tell of special items by three Curators form Special Collections and saw the still functioning book retrieval system.  Ms. Minty gave a tour of the grounds, architecture and statues, including Thomas Bodley and his chest for keeping his treasures.

Dinner was catered in the Divinity School, perhaps the most beautiful medieval building in Oxford (15th century) to house the lectures and disputations of the theology faculty.  It has a remarkably fine and elaborate fan-vaulted ceiling and many of the numerous bosses are carved with the

Oxford Divinity School Entrance

Oxford Divinity School Entrance

initials or arms of those who contributed to the cost of the building.  Sarah Thomas, who is an American, formerly at Cornell University, joined us for lively dinner discussion.

Walking back to the hotel on the Summer Solstice in glorious weather was a perfect ending to the day.

Tuesday, Dr. Julia Walworth, Fellow Librarian, Merton College, took them on a tour of the Merton College, Mob Quod, containing the oldest existing structure at Oxford, the gardens where J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, the Max Beerbohm room and the magnificent library.  Preserved as a

Merton College Garden

Merton College Garden

typical medieval library, Merton College Library has an example of chained books, benches, atlases and stained glass.

Then on to the newly renovated Ashmolean Museum where Dr. Christopher Brown, Director of the Museum, gave the history of the museum and the concept of the renovations opening up space, making exhibits more accessible and showing things thematically, rather than by age or location.  Lara Jukes, Development Director of the BL, was able to join us.  Dr. Brown’s wife, Sally Brown, was a BL curator and has spoken to the ATBL members both in New York and in London.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

After a satisfying luncheon the root top terrace of the museum, the group was driven to Blenheim Palace.  A tour guide gave us a whirlwind tour of the Palace, including Winston Churchill Rooms, library, views, water terrace, Italian Garden, Secret Garden, Temple of Diana and Rose Garden.

Wednesday Lara Jukes arranged a splendid information-packed day at the BL.  The President, Co-Chair and Executive Director met with Lara, Dame Lynne and Scot McKendrick to talk about the effect of the UK budget on the library which was announced by the Exchequer the day before; and how the ATBL and BL might work together to fundraise more effectively.

Dame Lynne then greeted the entire group and told them about BL highlights over the year including a five year review and reorganization making each Director IT savvy as well.

Elizabeth James, Curator of British collections showed the BL’s Double Elephant Folio:  Audubon’s Birds of America; Ryan Doherty, Production Coordinator, demonstrated Turning the Pages technology; and Roger Walshe, Head of learning, Jonathan Roberson, Curator of Social Science and Adrian Edwards, head of British and Early Printed Collections showed us the next exciting exhibit, “Evolving English:  One Language, Many Voices.

Dame Lynne hosted lunch and participants were joined by Phil Spence, Director of Scholarship and Collections; Frances Brindle, Director of Strategic Marketing and Communication; Kristian Jensen, Head of Arts and Humanities; and Phil Davies, Curator, American Studies.

Peter Barber, Head of Maps Collection, gave the group a private tour of Magnificent Maps:  Power, Propaganda and Art (discussed on page 1.)  He explained the basic theme of the exhibition that maps have never been simply geographical tools but invariably have cultural and political significance.  The group saw the largest item on show, a tapestry map of southern England, and the smallest, an atlas of the British Empire the size of a matchbox, made for Queen Mary, the wife of George V, as well as a map used to negotiate the boundary between the Ottoman Empire and Persia.

Sponsored Interns

Sponsored Interns at British Library

At tea, the group met the two American ATBL-sponsored interns in Illuminated Manuscripts with their supervisor, Cathleen Dougherty and saw Jake Dalton, ATBL-sponsored IDP intern who is completing his work on identifying scribes of the Tibetan manuscripts.

Guests popped into the amazing BL Gift Shop and Book Store and then stayed for the opening reception of Viva La Libertad, attended by South American ambassadors and consuls.  A fitting celebration and end to the annual Chairman’s Council trip.