Scientific Analysis of the Book

Raymond Clemens & Richard Hark

A six-part webinar series scheduled for Thursdays, 4–4:50 p.m. ET, 17 September–22 October 2020, via Zoom. 

The twelve seats have filled; registration is closed.

There have been tremendous advances in science as it relates to the history of the book. Co-taught by Raymond Clemens, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at the Beinecke Library, Yale University, and Richard Hark, Conservation Scientist at the Yale University Institute for the Preservation of Cultural History, this webinar series will introduce the major technologies currently available to most librarians. Its goal is to foster a community of librarians who are interested in promoting science to further our understanding of the history of the book. During each session, Clemens and Hark will present the scientific background necessary to make sense of a technology and will offer an example of that technology as it has been applied to book history. Most of the examples will come from their work either currently taking place or from projects that have been completed. 

This webinar series will run every Thursday, 4–4:50 p.m. ET, beginning on Thursday, 17 September: 

  • Session 1: Birth of authentication of historical materials and use of chemical reagents to reveal palimpsests––moving from a primitive, destructive, and not terribly specific approach to more-specific, less destructive approaches.  
  • Session 2: Radiocarbon dating. 
  • Session 3: Multispectral imaging (MSI).
  • Session 4: Elemental spectrography––X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), hand-held, and scanning instruments.
  • Session 5: Privacy and DNA testing for long-dead readers and peptide mass fingerprinting (PMF) for identification of the animal source of parchment.
  • Session 6: Molecular analysis––Raman and infrared spectroscopy (FTIR).