Tag Archives: learning

The Common place book

I had an enquiry the other day about someone’s commonplace book. What was that? According to Wikipedia:

a commonplace book is ” Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. …. Such books are essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces are used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts. Each one is unique to its creator’s particular interests but they almost always include passages found in other texts, sometimes accompanied by the compiler’s responses.  ”

When I read this I remembered that I grew up doing this in primary school. I wonder where they are now?

They are neither diary nor journal. The two examples in this blog will have some of the author’s own musings and writings in them.

Thomas Clifford’s commonplace book (NLA MS1097 – item 42) houses all manner of information:

 

MS 1097 item 42 - 1

Cambridge panel with full gilt spine panels

MS 1097 item 42 - 4

MS 1097 item 42 - 3

endbands

MS 1097 item 42 - 6

laced in

It is actually a great way to remember things. Indeed, as a bookbinding teacher I now deliberately leave information out of any notes I give; I recommend to my students that they add in information as a way of retaining it.

Here are some of the things Clifford wrote in the book:

IMG_3273

Ambition like a torrent xxxx looks back…..

IMG_3276

suspicio – jealousy

IMG_3277

An index

On the endpapers I found this pot watermark

MS 1097 item 42 - 12

pillars or bollards

This is Nettie Palmer’s commonplace book of a much later period 1907-1936 (NLA MS 6531)

According to the catalogue, this is a notebook in which

 “she transcribed favourite pieces of poetry, extracts of prose writing, brief diary entries and personal reminisciences for the period 1907-1910, 1913-1914, 1918-1921 and 1936. Loose clippings, a drawing and manuscript notes inserted.”

I remember writing all sorts of notes. Maybe you could try as well.

cheers

 

Leave a comment

Filed under bookbinding, education, libraries, rare books, Uncategorized

On a bookbinding adventure in Pohnpei

I don’t “do” tourism very well; I can’t lie still on a beach for more than a few minutes. Four of us had decided earlier in the year to visit our friend on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei. As the time approach, I wondered how I would amuse myself for 2 whole weeks.

 

I can tell you now that I re filed over 10 000 photos of ornaments and initials. That took up a bit of time.

We knew that the island would be small, and that our movements would be limited. So when a colleague from work reported that there was a library on the island, it occurred to me that I might be able to teach bookbinding on my off-excursion days.

IMG_6249

I sent my CV and bookbinding workshop proposal to the Pohnpei Public Library (PPL), and with a bit of help from the Australian Consulate,  three morning workshops began to take shape. I had also visited their website and found that they had a wish list of books to complement their holdings. So the girls and I decided to bring a few kilos of Australian children’s and youth fiction with us.

I had hoped that teenagers or children might be involved, but I had not reckoned on how the island works. Let me say here that this blog is not so much about the bookbinding aspect as it is of  social ramifications of a visiting teacher might engender in a small community.

IMG_6254

This is Lester Ezekias, the director of the PPL. He contacted his local librarians group, the equivalent of ALIA in Australia,  in the hopes of creating interest. Even on the Friday before the start of the workshops, he was emailing people to gauge interest.

Things on the island work by word of mouth or social media. Therefore on the first day we had 6 people who didn’t know what to expect. IT was lucky that Lester had attended a previous book repair workshop as he had bone folders and a few bits and pieces that were to come in very handy.

I’d come prepared with electronic notes and a presentation, but not the correct hardware. On that first day we had to crowd around my laptop to view some power points. I had made up small shows about the various different exhibitions, of Pacific and Islander material, that I had chanced upon during the year. One was a visit to the Museum of New Caledonia, compact exhibition space, but full of interesting information and artifacts relating to Kanaka culture as well as Pacific cultures in general. Another was a glimpse at the Tapa exhibition at the National Library of Australia, where the conservators had cleverly used camouflaged magnets to hold up a long tapa cloth.

And of course, a power point on a very brief history of the book in images.

My friend Kath, we whom we were staying, saved the week by providing her laptop and hardware to connect to the big screen. And as we bound books and had morning tea, the shows ran on a loop. But enough of electronic things, let’s get back to the meat of things, learning bookbinding.

Waiting for students, and Kath and Lesley helping out on the first day

I introduced the students to the wonderful uses of the telephone book and the versatility of pamphlet sewing.

At the end of the first session everyone had a few small booklets.

Bush telegraph and the next session was full; librarians from public schools and the Micronesian community college turned up to learn how to make simple housing. Wallet, four flap folders, phase box, using material locally available.

 

By the third session we were overfull; but no matter I was happy to share my knowledge with those I hope would be sharing this , in turn, with their students.

On the third and final session we made sewn board bindings. Everyone happened to be skilled at sewing, even the men. What pleasure to see surprise and smiling faces at the end of the day, book in hand, students marvel at the immediacy of the result and at having gained an understanding about the construction of books.

IMG_6258

My friend Lesley H. had been my assistant throughout, and for a complete novice she was a great help to others.

I have to thanks Kath Grant for her invaluable insights, as well as for inviting us for a visit. Thanks also to Lester Ezequiel for his unfailling support and to his staff who were completely in the moment, in between answering phones, checking out books to patrons and helping with passport applications.

On our penultimate day the four of us trouped over to the library to donate Australian books we had brought with us.

img_9039I think that carrying 20 kilos of books was very worthwhile.

The whole experience was all about the people; how we interacted, how different cultural views can be, how adaptable humans can be.

Perhaps I hope to go back and teach again.

Leave a comment

Filed under bookbinding, education, libraries, preservation