News and Upcoming Events

Letterlocking: Historical Practices of Securing Information Workshop

Letterlocking: Historical Practices of Securing Information a workshop with Jana Dambrogio

Saturday, June 20th, 2015 9am to 4:30pm The Library Company of Philadelphia

What did Queen Elizabeth I, her spymaster Sir Walsingham, Marie Antoinette, and Russian WWII soldiers all have in common? They were letterlockers. They, and many others throughout history, folded and secured their letters without the use of an envelope. It’s part of a 10,000-year information security tradition, ranging from Mesopotamian clay bullae to Bitcoins.
Come spend some time with Jana Dambrogio to learn how they did it. If you identify yourself as an artist, conservator, bookbinder, archivist, origami maker, paper engineer, letter- writer, secret keeper, or information security expert, this is the course for you.

Jana Dambrogio is currently the Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries. She has been working in the preservation field for 15 years as a conservator, consultant, and teaching professional. She previously held positions at the US National Archives, the United Nations, and the Vatican Secret Archives. She is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and an active member of various book and manuscript communities. She teaches workshops internationally on how to look at, make models of, and develop approaches to conserving library and archival binding and letterlocking structures.


Lecture and Exhibit opening coming up!


The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript: Collaboration Yields New Insights

 A talk by Paula Zyats, Assistant Chief Conservator, Special Collections, Yale University

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1314 Locust Street

5:30 – 7:30 pm – reception and exhibition opening to follow (see below)

Click here to RSVP

The Voynich Manuscript, a mysterious vellum manuscript written in an unknown language, was donated to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1969. In late 2008, an Austrian film crew approached the Beinecke with a proposal to conduct materials testing on the Voynich Manuscript and make a film about it.  This prompted an exciting collaboration between curators, scientists, conservators, historians, and filmmakers.  This talk summarizes those findings, outlining the history of the Voynich Manuscript, some of the theories as to its origins, conservation treatment, materials testing, and parchment radiocarbon dating. The advances though significant, are humble: the Voynich Manuscript’s authorship and meaning remain a complete mystery.

(image above from the Beinecke Library, Yale University)

Paula Zyats is a graduate of the Winterthur Museum/ University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation.  She worked as Rare Books and Manuscripts Conservator at CCAHA before coming to Yale, specializing in manuscripts on parchment and paper. Paula has been in her present position as Assistant Chief Conservator for Special Collections at Yale University Libraries for the past 9 1/2 years.  In that time, she has been privileged to work on rare items from numerous special collections within the Libraries, including the Voynich Manuscript, and is currently working on a project to treat and house ancient papyrus fragments.



Please also enjoy the opening of

“Small Wonders: Miniature Books by the Delaware Valley Chapter

of the Guild of Book Workers”


In the United States, a miniature book is defined as a book that is no larger than three inches in height, width, or thickness.  The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers has asked its members to make books with no other theme except to meet that definition.  Thirty-one members rose to the challenge. 


This event of co-sponsored by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers

Fast, Friendly, Free Workshop Coming Up



Jacob’s Ladder Structure

Denise Carbone

APRIL 5, 2014     10 am – 1pm

Library Company of Philadelphia

1314 Locust St., Philadelphia



The Jacob’s ladder is a folk toy consisting of blocks of wood held together by strings or ribbon. This 2,000-year-old Chinese toy has many wonderful applications for contemporary artist bookmakers. The book can be read straight through like any accordion book or hold one end and flip the ladder sections to reveal the hidden scenes. The apparent falling of the blocks has to do with a double-acting hinge. But to name it is not to comprehend it.

I will supply board for blocks, ribbon and polyethylene strapping for connector.

You should bring:

10 to 12 images cut to 3” square

Double-stick tape


Bone tool

(optional) your own ribbon

DVC Collaborative Project 2014

DVC Collaborative Project 2014

An Atlas. Each participant makes a map of a place real or imagined. This could also be a state of mind.

Each participant will make an edition of maps.  The maps can be of any (reasonable) size and will then be folded to one specified size.  We will exchange the maps with each other after which the participants can either bind the maps as a book, or make a box for them.


1.       The folded measurement is 5.5”w x 8.5”h.  The folded maps should not be any bigger or any smaller than this measurement.  Maps can also be a single sheet, unfolded, but still must be 5.5”w x 8.5”h. You do not need to attach stubs or guards for binding, unless you want to incorporate them in your folding plan.  Participants who decide to bind their copy will in some case have to attach stubs or guards in order to sew the text block.

2.       You must include a cartouche on the map with at least the title of the map and your name. The cartouche can be very simple and it can also contain any other information you would like to include.  To learn more about cartouches:

3.       A digital list of all participants and map titles will be available to make your own title page or box list.

4.       The registration form and your check for $15 are due by April 4.

5.       You will be informed of the edition size on April 7th.

6.       The folded maps will be due on September 12th, and a collation party will likely take place on September 13.

7.       We plan to offer a one-day clamshell box workshop for $100 per member in the fall.

8.       Plans to exhibit this collaborative project are underway.  More to follow.

9.       You must be a member of the Delaware Valley Chapter for the duration of the project.

10.   Questions?  Email Jennifer:


Please write a check for $15 made payable to:

The Guild of Book Workers

Mail the check to:

Alice Austin

The Library Company

1314 Locust Street

Philadelphia, PA  19107


FYI concerning shipping: If we have to mail you anything for this collaborative project, we will insure the item to the extent that we can. However, there are complex rules concerning shipping artworks and it seems that the likelihood of getting any money for lost items is very small. Please understand that you assume the risk when we use the mail or a shipping company.