Closing the Blog

Jyrki Hakapää

This blog was created a bit more than a year ago to precede Book Culture from Below – The Eighteenth Annual SHARP Conference. The conference took place in Helsinki, 17-20 August 2010. For organizers of the conference, it was a splendid occasion, filled with interesting presentations and lively discussions.

The conference webpage is still available for viewing. The program of the conference and the abstracts of the presentations are presented at Scientific Program page. Reviews and articles about the conference are collected to the Press page. Pictures of the conference are presented at the conference flickr photostream. Finally, tweets related to the conference have been saved here (#sharp10) and here (#sharp2010). Three events of the conference were also webcasted, but they were not recorded for later viewing.

But now it is time to close the blog: thank you for following Book History Up North and Book Culture from Below. The editors are very happy that so many readers found this blog. Book history is a growing scientific field in Nordic countries, and we are looking forward to see how the current discussions and findings evolve to new publications and meetings.


Book Culture from Below - The 18th Annual SHARP Conference

Jyrki Hakapää

Book Culture from Below - The 18th Annual SHARP Conference will begin next week in Helsinki, Finland. We are thrilled to have almost 250 scholars arriving to Helsinki. Many book historians can not attend the conference, but there are various ways of following the conference online, too.

The full program and abstracts of the conference are now available at the conference website's program page.

Three events of the conference will be webcast. All feeds will be linked to the conference website. All webcasts will be shown live and will not be available for later viewing.

The events to be webcast are:

Wed 18th of August 2010, 15.45–17.15 Finnish time, 12.45-14.15 GMT
University of Helsinki, Porthania, P1 Grand Lecture Hall
General panel discussion: Conceptual Re-evaluations from below
Chair: Dr. Ian Gadd (Bath Spa University)
Discussants: Doc. Anna Kuismin (University of Helsinki), Prof. Jonathan Rose (Drew University), Prof. Johan Svedjedal (Uppsala University), Prof. Nils-Erik Villstrand (Åbo Akademi University)

Thu 19th of August 2010, 16.00–17.30 Finnish time, 13.00-14.30 GMT
University of Helsinki, Porthania, P1 Grand Lecture Hall
Keynote lecture: Exposing the Oral and Literary Background of Fairy Tales
Chair: Doc. Kirsti Salmi-Niklander (University of Helsinki)
Key note lecture by Prof. Ruth B. Bottigheimer (Stony Brook University): Upward and Outward: Fairy Tales and Popular, Print, and Proletarian Culture 1550–1850
Comments by Prof. Satu Apo (University of Helsinki) and Dr. Caroline Sumpter (Queen's University, Belfast)

Fri 20th of August, 16.00–17.30 Finnish time, 13.00-14.30 GMT
University of Helsinki, University Main Building, Grand Festive Hall
General panel discussion: How the Aspect ‘from below' Changes Book History
Chair: Prof. Outi Merisalo
Discussants: Doc. Esko M. Laine (University of Helsinki), Doc. Tuomas M.S. Lehtonen (Finnish Literature Society), Dr. Ann Steiner (Lund University), Dr. Jonathan Wild (University of Edinburgh)

You can also follow and discuss about the conference events via Twitter. The tag for the SHARP 2010 conference in Helsinki is #sharp10. The conference tweets can be found via link on the conference webpage.


Nordic and Baltic Book History Cooperation

Before the SHARP conference in Helsinki, Gothenburg will host The World Library and Information Congress: 76th IFLA General Conference and Assemble, in 10-15 August 2010.

The massive event includes also sessions on library history. For one of these sessions, docent Ilkka Mäkinen (University of Tampere) has written a presentation of HIBOLIRE (Nordic-Baltic-Russian Research Network on the History of Books, Libraries and Reading), one of the co-organizers of Book Culture from Below -conference. HIBOLIRE has been active since 2006, but it is a dircet continuation of Nordic book history cooperation since 1990s. The network is funded by Nordforsk until the end of 2010.

HIBOLIRE has arranged and co-organized multiple seminars and conferences in Nordic and Baltic countries and supported young researchers' training and academic careers. The researchers of the network have also published a book last year, called Library Spirit in the Nordic and Baltic Countries: Historical Perspectives. The articles of the book concentrate on studying the idea of public library: how the idea of library, which would open its doors to all readers, spread in the Baltic Sea Region region and what kind of local ideologies, institutional varieties and networks were created.

In his IFLA presentation, Mäkinen does not only introduce various activities of the HIBOLIRE network, but also discusses on the possiblities and difficulties of the international scientific co-operation. The effort to bind eight distinct national research traditions and varying institutional support under one umbrella of book history has certainly been difficult, but discussions on the methodological issues, transnational research approaches and comparative aspects have offered common basis for cooperation.

Mäkinen's whole report is available here.


Digitized Dissertations of the Royal Academy of Turku

A good amount of the dissertations defended at the Royal Academy of Turku 1642-1828 have been digitized and published at the Doria-database.

The Academy was the second university established in the Swedish realm. Until 1828 it was the only centre of academic learning in Finland. After Turku burnt in 1827, and as the Russian authorities who have annexed Finland to Russian empire in 1809 wanted to release the ties to Swedish tradition, the university moved to Helsinki.

While the academy resided in Turku, almost 4500 dissertation were defended there. A list of the dissertations was published in early 1960s, and now all 1778 dissertations printed in Latin or Swedish - ca. 45 000 pages - have been digitized. The work will continue in near future. The earliest dissertations were published mostly in Latin, but during the 18th century Swedish - the mother tongue of learned people also in Finland - was used more frequently.

Dissertations were quite frequently written by the supervisor: the young defendant's task was to show, that he was capable to discuss about the subject of the dissertation and defend its findings. As a result, many dissertations are works of proven scholars. The collection includes for example dissertations guided by Pehr Kalm, who became famous in the 18th century for his travel books of North America.


The Most Beautiful Book of Finland in 2009

While we are preparing our next entry about the latest achievements of Finnish book history, we would like to show you the most beautiful book of the year.

This year The Finnish Book Arts Committee chose Amour unit deux coeurs - Henry Lönnforsin miniatyyrikokoelma, Henry Lönnfors miniatyrsamling as the main prize winner. The book introduces Henry Lönnfors' collection of miniature paintings, which he donated to the Turku Art Museum in 2004. The collection was exhibited for the first time last year. Most of the miniature paintings are Swedish works from the late 18th century and early 19th century, but the collection contains also several central European miniatures from the 17th century to the 19th century.

The Finnish Book Arts Committee announces that it seeks to "focus attention on books as art objects. In selecting the year´s most beautiful books, the committee looks for works that integrate content and design as well as possible. The criteria span the book´s graphic design as a whole, starting with the typography and ending with the complete printed product. The committee appreciates both the classic printing arts and fresh, new creative ideas." This time the committee praised, among other things, how both old and new techniques had been used successfully to create the book, and how the book as an object had been created on the content's terms.


Mapping Stars

Exhibitions on book history are relatively rare in Finland, but the National Library of Finland makes a great exception: a continuous flow of exhibitions on books and and their writers, producers, and readers is one of its most visible activities. During the renovation of late 1990s the National Library opened new exhibition rooms and has ever since shown its own treasures as well as invited scholars and book collectors to show their wide learning and special collections.

The current main exhibition in the Gallery of the library is The View From Paradise. The History of the Maps of the Heavens. The exhibition shows the history of viewing, illustrating and mapping of heavens from Antiquity to the present day from the scientific, cultural and historical perspectives. The exhibition was planned by professor Tapio Markkanen, and the event belongs to the activities of the International Year of Astronomy (2009).

The exhibition displays treasures from the National Library’s collections. Many of the maps come from the Nordenskiöld Collection. This collection is probably the most famous collection of the library. Scientist and explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (1832–1901) collected thousands of maps (mostly historical), geographical literature and travel books, and nowadays the collection is inscribed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World register.

The exhibition is divided in three parts: first it shows the development of astronomy from the Antiquity to the Renaissance. The oldest works displayed date from the late 15th century. Ptolemy's Almagest was the key title for astronomical information until the explorations ond scientific works of Tycho Brahe and Nikolaus Copernicus – also shown at the exhibition – changed the view. The exhibition also show important books which moulded people's understanding but have since been forgotten: Alessandro Piccolomini is presented as one of the early writers to popularize astronomy in the 16th century.

The second part of the exhibition belongs to star cataloguing, and shows Finnish scholars at their work. Finland had its own place in the global research networks since the 18th century, when French scientist Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis traveled to North of Finland to measure a degree of latitude along a line of longitude to investigate whether the earth was flattened at its poles. During the early 19th century Finnish astronomers began to participate in the international mapping efforts. But all was not professional: also hobbyists’ star atlases and guidebooks from the 1800s to the present day are also shown.

Finally the exhibitions shows pieces of traditional equipment as well as pictures of the University of Helsinki Observatory, built in 1834. The Department of Astronomy used the observatory until last year.

The View from Paradise closes at the end of April. Soon after, the library will open a new exhibition What could kill the Book. The Book Now and in the Future in the gallery. In the Rotunda the library is also preparing to open an exhibition on Kalevala, the Finnish national epic which was first published 175 years ago. Both will be open during SHARP's annual conference in August.


Book Science Conference in Vilnius

Doctoral student Inga Liepaitė & Associate Professor Aušra Navickienė
Institute of Book Science and Documentation,
Faculty of Communication, Vilnius University

The 18th international conference devoted to book science, Book and Media Science: Research, Researchers, Communication, was held at the conference hall of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, 22–23 October 2009. The event was organized by the Institute of Book Science and Documentation from the Faculty of Communication at Vilnius University. As with previous conferences, assistance was provided by HIBOLIRE and, this year for the first time, by the Department of the Humanities and Social Sciences from the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. The programme of the conference is available as a pdf-file.

As was noted during the conference, two anniversaries gave cause to reflect over developmental landmarks and past achievements in book sciences, as well as its relationship to other sciences, both in Lithuania and other Baltic States: these being the 1000th anniversary of the first recorded use of the name Lithuania, and the 430th anniversary of the founding of Vilnius University.

The range of issues discussed at the conference was extremely broad and challenging. However, while a focus of attention was ancient manuscripts and printed books, it was the issues raised about concepts used by the founding fathers of book science and problems they faced, together with their applications, that were discussed most enthusiastically, often within a modern unstable context of 21st-century developments such as relations between traditional and digital books or in disquisitions related to the traditional book and the future of its study. It is hoped that the latter issues will provide guidelines, which will determine topics for future Vilnius conferences devoted to book science.

Over two days, the speakers and participants of the conference had an opportunity to hear 32 presentations, by scholars from Belarus, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, France, Russia, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden. Some speakers were visiting Lithuania for the first time.

The event was opened by the chairman of the organizing committee, Professor Domas Kaunas of Vilnius University, and Associate Professor Andrius Vaišnys, Dean of the Faculty of Communication, who welcomed conference delegates. This was followed by three gripping plenary presentations. The first speaker was by Professor Simon Eliot of IES, University of London. His speech was devoted to a rather intriguing issue – has book history a future? With the conclusion of his presentation, delegates were relieved to hear that the strongest feature of the book is its tangibility, which is why there would be little reasons to worry about its disappearance. Professor Eliot noted that, due to its broad subject, the book in the future would develop into the history of communication and information. Ideas voiced by Professor Miha Kovač of Ljubljana University, Slovenia, were also inspiring. Professor Kovač stated that the traditional book continues to be the backbone of our civilization and possesses many merits, when compared to speedily developing technologies. Associate Professor Aušra Navickienė, representing Vilnius University, addressed issues related to development of book science.

The conference was organized into four sections. For the first time in the history of the Lithuanian book science, a section devoted to the manuscript book in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and its neighbouring countries was undertaken. It was chaired by Associate Professor Alma Braziūnienė of Vilnius University and Dr Tatjana A. Isachenko of the Russian State Library. Seven papers relating to the state-of-the-art of manuscript book research, possible perspectives for the future, possible modes of research, and the reconstruction of the manuscript collections were presented in the given section.

The second section was devoted to the history of the printed book. It was chaired by Professor D. Kaunas from Vilnius University and Professor Tiiu Reimo from Tallinn University. The nine papers in this second section were devoted to theoretical and methodological problems relating to book history, reading, book dissemination and the history of libraries.

The third section, entitled "Book Science Creators and Concepts", was chaired by Ausra Navickienė and Professor Krzystof Migon of Wroclaw University. Nine presentations discussing developments to theoretical problems of bibliography, as well as the scope of book research and book researchers, were given.

The fourth section, entitled "Applied Research of Book and Other Media", chaired by Associate Professor Jurgita Rudžionienė and Associate Professor Aile Möldre of Tallinn University, in which seven presentations were made, can be characterized by the variety of issues investigated. The section considered the relationship of book science with other sciences, book relations of the Baltic States, modern university publishing within the context of the new changes, while issues relating to print statistics and standardization were also discussed, as well as results of the investigation of the documentary science communication being introduced.

In his closing speech Professor D. Kaunas expressed his gratitude to the speakers and listeners for the productive atmosphere of the conference and hoped that each delegate had heard at least one or two interesting presentations of specific interest. Professor Kaunas’ sentiments were endorsed by the conference’s international speakers, who recognised the importance of the event, and expressed their gratitude to the organizing committee for the opportunity to participate. Ilkka Mäkinen, associate professor at Tampere University, said that the attempts of the organizers to create an environment for intellectual exchange between Western and both Mid- and Eastern-European traditions was vitally important. In his opinion, since contemporary book history in the West was born from the integration of Anglo-American and French traditions, there should emerge something entirely new in a Western-, Middle-, and Eastern-European intellectual exchange. Institute of Book Science and Documentation at Vilnius University is doing a great job along just these lines. The forthcoming SHARP conference in Helsinki may be the next important step in this direction.

The conclusions and insights drawn from the conference will continue in future discussions. It is planned that scientific articles prepared from the conference presentations will be published in vol. 54 of Knygotyra (Book Science) in 2010. All issues of Knygotyra are available at the homepage of the publication.


Paper Identification Database

Since March 2009, The National Archives of Finland has provided on online access to A Database of Historic Paper Identification. The website has been developed by István Kecskeméti, head of the archival technical unit at the National Archives.

The database has been created for collecting data on historic and modern paper characterisation and identification. It began in 2006 as a project under the auspices of the EVTEK Institute of Art and Design and, in the early phases, the Finnish Cultural Foundation provided support for the documentation of the first paper mill in Finland, Tomasböle (1667–1713). The watermark from Tomasböle (see above) presents the coat of arms of the City of Turku, with the initials of Johan Winter, the Royal Book Printer of the Gezelius printing house. This watermark appears in 1680, after the nomination of Winter to the post of Royal Book Printer.

Since then over four hundred entries from various countries have been added to the database. However, Finnish, Swedish and Estonian handmade papers comprise the most prized items in the overall documentation. At the moment most of the new entries are taken from the collections of the National Archives of Finland and the collection of the Museum of Paper (run by the Finnish Pulp and Paper Research Institute).


The database includes information on types of the paper, watermarks and details of laid and chain lines that are characteristic of handmade rag paper. Size, colour and acidity measurements, fibre morphology and pulp type as well as paper sizing and other components in paper also have a place in the database. Images and further detailed images of the paper samples can also be added to the database. Naturally, searches can be carried out in several categories.

Using the Database

All users have free access to the database, with the opportunity for conducting multiple searches. For example, it is possible to search by paper owner, surveyor, type of paper, mould type, water mark classification, dating summary, manufactory, country and place of manufactory, as well as by pulp type. The National Archives would also be happy to receive any comments or suggestions about the content and appearance of the database. All comments are welcome, and should be sent to István Kecskeméti by e-mail at istvan.kecskemeti[at]narc.fi.

More detailed information on the database is available from the following sources:

Kecskeméti, Istvan. “Paper Identification Database” in IADA Papier Restaurierung, no 3/2006.
Kecskeméti, Istvan. “Paper Identification Database, a novel tool for paper characterization and documentation. A case study of early Finnish handmade paper documentation” in IPH 28th yearbook, Capellades/Barcelona, 2006.
Kecskeméti, Istvan. “Paper Identification Database” in Postprints of the 11th seminar on the care and conservation of manuscripts, Copenhagen, 2009.