Exhibition: The Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada

Alcuin Book Design Awards LOGO


Since 1981 the Alcuin Society has sponsored the only national competition for book design in Canada. Each year, a call for entries is sent out. Books published in Canada during the calendar year of competition are eligible for submission. Each title must represent the exclusive work of a Canadian book designer. The judging of the entries takes place the following year in the spring, and the award winning books are posted to the society’s website, showcased in an awards catalogue produced by the Alcuin Society, and exhibited national and internationally. After the exhibitions, books have been contributed to various prestigious permanent collections in Canada, England, Germany, and Japan (excerpt from alcuinsociety.com).

This exhibit features 41 winning titles from 236 entries, from 9 provinces and 112 publishers.

A listing of winning titles from 2012 is available here: http://www.alcuinsociety.com/awards/2012/index.html

On view July 2013 at McGill University Library
McLennan Library Building Lobby
3459 McTavish Street
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 0C9


Presentée en juillet 2013 à la bibliothèque de l’université McGill
Édifice McLennan
3459 rue McTavish
Montréal, Québec
H3A 0C9

Exhibition: Legacies Denied: Unearthing the Visual Culture of Canadian Slavery

legacies_denied_front_cover May 22nd to July 31st, 2013
in the Reading Room

Exhibition Vernissage: Wednesday, May 22nd, from 5:30pm to 7pm

This exhibition and the accompanying catalogue emerged from a fourth year undergraduate Art History course, “Canadian Slavery and its Legacies: a Curatorial Seminar,” taught by Dr. Charmaine Nelson, Associate Professor of Art History. Working with the holdings of the Rare Books and Special Collections Library (McGill University), the students curated an exhibition, assembling a variety of extraordinary art and visual culture objects of direct relevance to Trans Atlantic Slavery. Like the course, the catalogue and exhibition contest the erasure of Canadian participation in the histories of Trans Atlantic Slavery, instead highlighting the role of Canadian art and visual culture in producing, sustaining and resisting the enslavement of people of African descent and Natives in the territories that became Canada.

Many of the art objects, which the students selected from McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections Library, are a part of an art exhibition that will be on display at:

Rare Books and Special Collections
McLennan Library Building
4th Floor
3459 McTavish Street
Montreal, Quebec
Canada, H3A 0C9


Exhibition: Passion Pursued with Discipline: Prints Collection of Thomas W. Mussen

mussen-poster-detail-1_0May 9th to September 30th, 2013
4th lobby of the McLennan Library Building

An exhibit curated by Svetlana Kochkina, Liaison Librarian, Nahum Gelber Law Library, McGill University.

The Reverend Thomas W. Mussen (1832-1901), former McGill student, was a man of culture and erudition, who possessed a large collection of early printed books, roman coins, and old master prints that he gathered by great diligence and economy. His final wish was that his collection was to be given to the McGill University. In 1919, the major part of Mussen’s collection was donated to the McGill Library by his widow and daughter. His prints collection reflects the professional and intellectual interests of its former owner, an Anglican rector with a deep interest in history and art, with four major themes: “Christianity, Bible”, “Holy Family”, “Ancient History/ Mythology”, and “Nature, Landscapes.”

Recent acquisition: Cruikshank pamphlet (1869)

Rare Books and Special Collections has recently acquired a copy of George Cruikshank’s  Our ‘gutter children‘, a large, four-page pamphlet with a colour illustration at the head. This document, which complements RBSC holdings of Cruikshank’s illustrated book works and extensive caricature collection, appears to be the only recorded copy in a Canadian library.

George Cruikshank (English, 1792-1878) was a print maker and caricaturist who achieved fame first through political and social caricature in the popular press and later as a successful  illustrator of books. His output was extensive, and he created plates for Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and the Brothers Grimm, to name a few.

Our ‘gutter children‘ will beCruikshank of particular interest to researchers looking at Home Children, the movement of child emigrants from Great Britain to Canada between 1869 and the 1930s.

“…a proposition has been made, through the press, with an appeal for pecuniary aid, to assist in transporting to Canada and the Western States of America, some of the deserted and neglected children of this country, who are to be found in the GUTTERS of our Cities and Towns…”

This item is available for consultation in Rare Books and Special Collections.


Symposium: Meetings with Books: Raymond Klibansky, Special Collections and the Library in the 21st Century

Many if not most rare book libraries have a long and complicated history of acquisitions that reflects the varied interests of collectors and benefactors, of librarians and scholars, and by happenstance and serendipity.  It is not just the individual titles that carry information; the histories of the collections do so as well and it is often in exploring these histories that new understandings are born.  How, then, are we to understand and explore these diverse and, indeed, disparate collections?  Furthermore, does the increasing use of digital technologies alter the way we need to discovery and to understand them?

The purpose of this one-day symposium is to begin this process of investigating the full and complex potential of these collections and the ways to do so.  This has to be a joint enterprise of scholars and librarians; it is only by working together that we can ask the questions and tell the stories that are to be found in rare book and special collection libraries.

The symposium agenda can be found here: http://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/node/18308

Raymond Klibansky

RSVP by March 15, 2013

Free to attend
Lunch and reception included

Exhibition: Book Culture in the Medieval Mediterranean

Initial “A”, Bologna, late 13th- early 14th century (MS 47)
Photo: Klaus Fiedler

This exhibition highlights the rich and diverse cultures surrounding book production throughout the medieval Mediterranean. Drawing on the considerable holdings of Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University, it includes many items that have never before been exhibited. Visitors will encounter complete copies of the Qur’an, the gospels, and books of hours in addition to a wide array of single leaves in Greek, Arabic, Latin, and Persian.

The exhibition is arranged thematically highlighting cross-cultural connections. The scientific and cosmological works, for example, feature an anonymous Latin treatise on logic and a vernacular illustrated herbal leaf exhibited alongside the celebrated Farrukh nāmah and the ʿAjā’ib al-makhlūqāt wa gharā’ib al-mawjūdāt. Similarly, under the rubric of power and storytelling, an exquisitely detailed genealogical scroll adumbrating the kings of England is juxtaposed with lavishly illustrated leaves of the Persian royal epic, the Shahnameh, in order to illuminate distinct modes for visualizing sovereignty. Together these materials evoke the varied conceptions of the natural, political, and cosmic world, while also attesting to dynamic traditions of script, ornamentation, and illumination across the many cultures of the medieval Mediterranean. Click here for the exhibition catalogue.

Cecily Hilsdale, Assistant Professor, Art History and Communication Studies
Jennifer Garland, Art History and Communication Studies Liaison Librarian
Sean Swanick, Islamic Studies Liaison Librarian

The exhibition runs from November 2012 to January 18, 2013 in Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University, McLennan Library Building, Fourth Floor, 3459 McTavish St.