To kick off our ‘Behind the Scenes’ series, we thought we’d take a quick look at the variety of research going on in and the types of readers visiting our Reading Room. Over future posts, we’ll look more closely at the work that our teams are doing, from special projects to day-to-day work.
Our Ladybird collections are always popular with our visitors, particularly after the MERL exhibition (see photos and more info). Ladybird books were first produced during the First World War as simple children’s story books, but the series eventually grew to include the educational books many of us know today. The books were heavily illustrated, and the Ladybird collection here at Reading includes 700 boxes of original artwork and proofs.
Recently, researchers from the BBC Four programme Timeshift arrived to take a look at Ladybird drawings. Timeshift explores Britain’s cultural and social history, and the research team uncovered some beautiful drawings of shopping in mid-century Britain. Keep an eye out for the episode!
One of our particular strengths is our printing and publishing archives, and we often get researchers looking at the records of the various publishing firms we hold or our examples of fine printing. In June, we pulled out a beautiful and very rare copy of Chevreul’s De la loi du contraste simultané des couleurs (usually translated as The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors). This groundbreaking work by a French chemist looked at colour contrasts and is still considered important to the history of chromolithography, or colour lithographic printing. Keeps an eye out for a new publication using this and other parts of our printing collections.