Li Yuan-chia – The Man behind the Artist.

“Over the last 4 months we have been working across teams, (The Visual Collections and The Manuscript and Archives Departments), to try and enhance our understanding of what is contained in the uncatalogued archive of the artist Li Yuan-chia. We have been trying to improve upon the current box list for the collection to enable researchers to have better access to the collection and to rehouse the material into more manageable archival storage.”

Read more on the Rylands Special Collections blog below

Li Yuan-chia – The Man behind the Artist..

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John Rylands Research Institute Annual Lecture


Page from Hebrew MS 6

The Institute is honoured to welcome Prof. Dr. Emile G. L. Schrijver as its host of the 2015 Institute Annual Lecture on 30 April 2015.

Lecturing extensively across Europe, Israel and North America, the Institute is delighted that Professor Schrijver will be sharing his knowledge and expertise with our audience. He will present a lecture entitled: The John Rylands Library as a Primary Source for the Study of Hebrew Books Since the Invention of Printing.

To reserve your place at this special event, please contact

Please note the exact timings of the event will be confirmed in the coming weeks and that places are free but book up very quickly.

The Lecture is Free, book tickets here.

Textus Roffensis, Foundations for the Magna Carta



Last year CHICC visited Rochester Cathedral to digitise the Textus Roffensis, a manuscript predating the Magna Carta, containing the Law of Aethelberht of Kent which dates back to 600AD – the only surviving copy of the oldest law in English.

Historian Michael Wood talks about the manuscript on the Rochester Cathedral site here.

The digitised manuscript can be found on the Library’s digital collections here.

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The Glass Plate Negatives


The Newman digitisation project is progressing at a fantastic pace. We are well over 145 boxes in, with image totals reaching over 125,000 so far.

We have recently digitised a wonderful set of glass plate negatives from the collections. These include early copies of Newman letters, portraits of Newman himself, and ‘snaps’ from around the oratory. There is a wonderful box of 10x12in plates that document Newman’s room at the Oratory, showing exactly how he left it.

The room is exactly the same today, so the negatives are a fantastic resource to show what has changed in condition over the years.

Originally posted on Newman Archive:

We have just completed digitisation of the glass plate negatives from Batch Six, after preparation by the John Rylands Collection Care team. The plates were a mix of size and subject matter, ranging from 6x9cm to 10x12in, while the contents ranged from the formal to the informal; from snapshots to precisely posed.


A small selection is included below. The digitised negatives are inverted using our digital capture software in order to create the positive image. The negative image appears as below:


Many of the plates were an early endeavor to photographically record the Newman Archive, meaning that we found ourselves digitising glass plates of letters we most probably photographed in their original format earlier in the project! It is safe to say the digitisation process has improved over the years; as you can see below, drawing pins were used.


Not all attempts were successful, as seen below, flare on paintings…

View original 115 more words

A book 100 years older than the Magna Carta goes digital

Textus_Roffensis_0001 A manuscript predating the Magna Carta is to be seen, in full, online, by the public for the first time thanks to a project involving digital experts at The University of Manchester working in partnership with Rochester Cathedral.

The Textus Roffensis, a 12th century legal encyclopaedia compiled by a single scribe at Rochester Cathedral, in Kent, in the 1120s has been digitised by the University’s Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care.

The medieval manuscript, which is almost 100 years older than King John’s Magna Carta and has been described as ‘Britain’s Hidden Treasure’ by the British Library, has never before been seen in its entirety by the public.
The University of Manchester’s Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care provides specialist and bespoke solutions for the digitisation and collection care of heritage and cultural collections.

Dr Chris Monk, a specialist at the University who worked with Rochester Cathedral on the project, said: “The team here has vast experience digitizing rare books and manuscripts.  To work with this particular national treasure, one of such historical significance, has been remarkable.  And it will be just as exciting and remarkable for the public to see it up close – no longer a hidden treasure.
“The Textus Roffensis is truly a unique manuscript: it predates the Magna Carta by almost a hundred years, contains the only copy of the oldest set of laws in English, and was penned by an English scribe within 60 years of the Norman Conquest.  That it is being made accessible to the public is worth shouting about, and is a tribute to all those involved with the project.”
Written in Old English and Latin in 1123-24 AD, the Textus Roffensis is so called because of a 14th century inscription within the book, The Textus de Ecclesia Roffensi per Ernulphum episcopum (The Book of the Church of Rochester through Bishop Ernulf). It contains the Law of Aethelberht of Kent which dates back to 600AD – it is the only surviving copy of the oldest law in English.
The book was originally two manuscripts. The first has the only surviving copies of three Kentish laws, including the Law of Aethelberht who was the King of Kent, from 560 to 616AD, and seen by some as ‘foundation documents of the English state’. King Alfred’s Domboc (book of laws) and King Cnut’s laws are also in this section of the book alongside the oldest copy of the coronation charter of Henry I – the wording of which is echoed in the Magna Carta (1215) and the American Declaration of Independence (1776). 
The second part of the manuscript includes the earliest charters of England’s second oldest cathedral – founded at Rochester in 604AD, the oldest known catalogue of books in England and documents concerning the Danish conquest of England in 1016. 
A number of pages in the manuscript display signs of water damage after it became submersed, possibly, in either the River Medway or the River Thames, sometime between 1708 and 1718, when it was being returned by boat to Rochester from London.

The early legal codes are concerned primarily with preserving social harmony, through compensation and punishment for personal injury. Compensations are arranged according to social rank, descending from king to slave. The initial provisions of the code offer protection to the church. Though the latter were probably innovations, much of the remainder of the code may be derived from earlier legal custom transmitted orally.

The Textus Roffensis has been safeguarded by Rochester Cathedral since its inception and has been digitised by The University of Manchester team as part of a Heritage Lottery Funded renovation and community engagement project at the Cathedral.

The Textus Roffensis itself will go on display in Rochester Cathedral next year, as part of the Cathedral’s Heritage Lottery Fund project, ‘Hidden Treasures: Fresh Expressions’, and will enable public access to its remarkable library and other collections and include exhibitions, workshops, events and activities.

Janet Wilkinson is The University of Manchester’s Librarian and Director of The John Rylands Library. She said: “The University of Manchester Library has long recognised the need to preserve its digital material, as well as print, for future generations. I am reassured that this significant piece of history will now survive for future research purposes.”
Find out more in this film produced as part of the project by Manchester Lights Media.
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Movember at the John Rylands Library

Preparing the moustache: thread sewn on plastazote

Preparing the moustache: thread sewn on plastazote

Adhesion of plastazote to the moustache

Adhesion of plastazote to the moustache

Moustache propped and ready to go!

Moustache propped and ready to go!

The Collection Care department in the John Rylands library has the main purpose of looking after the preservation and conservation of the collections within the University libraries.
Our team of conservators covers a variety of tasks, including the maintenance of adequate standards of temperature and relative humidity within the historical building, the preparation of the books for exhibitions within the marvellous spaces of the library, the organization of loans and, of course, the active conservation of books.
Collection Care oversees the preservation of any historical object in the John Rylands library, including the marble statues of Enriqueta and John Rylands in the historic reading room, which have now grown some lovely moustaches, as the library is supporting Movember.
Movember is organized by the Movember Foundation, a leading global organisation committed to changing the face of men’s health
To date, 4 million moustaches have been grown worldwide, and now even John and Enriqueta have grown them!
The Collection Care team has contributed to the preparation of the moustaches and even had a risk assessment in place for the day the moustache were going to be applied to the statues!
Linen thread was sewn through the width of a small piece of plastazote (inert dense foam, with numerous applications to protect historical objects), then lined with double sided tape on one side and attached to the back of the moustache.
Our Collection Care manager, Caroline Checkley-Scott couldn’t help having a trial at fitting the propped moustache.
The Collection Care team is quite happy to get involved in such important event, ensuring that adequate materials are used for the moustache-fitting of John and Enriqueta.

Caroline Checkley-Scott testing the fitting of the moustache

Caroline Checkley-Scott testing the fitting of the moustache

John Rylands looking very dapper in his moustache

John Rylands looking very dapper in his moustache

Enriqueta supporting Movember

Enriqueta supporting Movember

Let The John Rylands Library inspire your Mo!

Noblewoman St Wilgefortis, or Uncumber, grew a moustache & beard to avoid marriage to a Pagan king. Her father was so furious he had her crucified. Women who want to get rid of their husbands still pray to her for help! Be warned!

Noblewoman St Wilgefortis, or Uncumber, grew a moustache & beard to avoid marriage to a Pagan king. Her father was so furious he had her crucified. Women who want to get rid of their husbands still pray to her for help! Be warned!

#jrlphotoaday continues with a distinctly moustachioed theme! Every day throughout November, The John Rylands Library is sharing images from our collections to inspire and motivate all those taking part in Movember 2014.

From the full and thick to the perfectly trimmed, we’ll be sharing moustaches on Instagram and Twitter. Keep an eye out for famous moustaches of World War I poet Wilfred Owen and William Shakespeare!

You can also get involved by visiting the Library and taking a selfie with our statues of John and Enriqueta Rylands, who will be wearing moustaches for the month.

Take a selfie with one of our statues!


Follow us today @TheJohnRylands and search #jrlphotoaday.

Movember is a leading global organisation committed to changing the face of men’s health. You can find out more about the charity on the Movember website.

The photo a day campaign supporting Movember will run from 1 – 30 November.

Digitising Newman

The Newman Digitisation Project is steaming ahead, we’ve produced nearly 100,000 images so far. The NINS team have produced a fantastic video which gives a great overview of the project.

Photo a Day #02

Today is Mahatma Gandhi’s 145th Birthday! We’re celebrating with this illustration of an Indian woman making offerings at a Hindu shrine. Happy birthday Gandhi!

Today is Mahatma Gandhi’s 145th Birthday! We’re celebrating with this illustration of an Indian woman making offerings at a Hindu shrine. Happy birthday Gandhi!

Photo a Day


This Freedom of the City of Manchester scroll presented to Mrs Enriqueta Rylands in October 1899. Mrs Rylands built the John Rylands Library as a gift to the people of Manchester. Thanks Mrs Rylands!

Throughout October The John Rylands Library will be running a Photo a Day campaign to increase the digital reach and exposure of the Library’s collections.

Each day, an image from the Library’s collections will be shared on Twitter and Instagram. The images will range from portraits of Alexandre Dumas to postcards from a Buffalo Bill scrapbook, and where possible, we will be supporting local, national and international festivals and anniversaries (such as Manchester Literature Festival and Gandhi’s birthday).

Please support the campaign by following us on Instagram and Twitter, retweeting images, commenting on Instagram or sharing your own images using the campaign hashtag #jrlphotoaday.

The account is @TheJohnRylands on both Twitter and Instagram.

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