Exhibition | Bold, Beautiful, Bindings: Futureproofing our Treasures


McLennan Library Building main floor lobby, 3459 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0C9, CA

The vulnerable physical condition of some of the rich and rare items in McGill Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections renders their use difficult for students, faculty and staff. Over time, and with activity in the collections, our various books, maps, manuscripts or prints need a lift or complete rejuvenation. The McGill Library relies upon a number of specialized Conservators whose seamless work maintains the structural and aesthetic integrity of the original. Their work is on display in an exhibit showing spectacular bindings to the state-of-the art conservation repairs on autograph letters or medieval vellum.

In 2006 by Principal and Vice Chancellor, Heather Munroe-Blum began arranging for the restoration of books from the McGill Library as a way to preserve and make these valuable assets more available while honouring individuals on special occasions. This clever programme was meant to benefit the McGill collections and personally acknowledge a friend of the University in the descriptive record in the library catalogue. Many of the items selected have provenance that is often significant to the Montreal community, such as lawyer Frederic Griffin, (Griffintown) or Donald A. Smith (later Lord Strathcona) who gave a large endowment to McGill for the education of women in 1884.

Today we are celebrating fifteen years of gift restorations, which alone, has provided hundreds of high-end restorations. It is a vital initiative that endures thanks especially to the Trenholm Dean of Libraries, Colleen C. Cook, Faculty Deans and the Provost Christopher Manfredi, who adopted Gift Restorations to honour Friends and the careers of retiring staff. As a result, collections across the campus strengthen, ensuring current and future access to McGill’s heritage materials. We are extremely grateful for all the treasures that are now saved, in addition to the injection of funds aimed to restore a subject area of interest from our cherished donors.

If you have a favourite in mind do not hesitate to contact us at: rarebooks.library [at] mcgill.ca or visit our space at: https://www.mcgill.ca/library/branches/rarebooks and our digital collections at: https://www.mcgill.ca/library/find/digitization.

Curated by: Ann Marie Holland, Liaison Librarian and Octavian Sopt, Senior Documentation Technician, Rare Books and Special Collections

Photo credit: Gregory Houston, Digital Initiatives, New Media & Digitization Administrator

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