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Rare books reception

11 November 2010

Turning the Pages softwareTurning the Pages software

Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones hosted a reception in partnership with the University and Cardiff Council to mark the transfer of an important collection of rare books to the Arts and Social Studies library.

Held at the Senedd building on 10 November, the event was the first public showing of Turning the Pages software in Wales which allows users to virtually turn the pages of digitised books.

The collection was saved for Wales thanks to a joint financial investment between the University, Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

It includes rare examples of early books or incunabula printed before 1500; many early Bibles dating from 1540; early atlases including a world map published in 1492, a few months before Columbus reached America; a comprehensive set of seventeenth century Restoration plays; seventeenth century copies of Shakespeare's works and many examples of fine printing from Victorian publishers.

One of the books in the collectionOne of the books in the collection

University Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant said: "The Rare Books collection puts Cardiff University and Wales at the forefront of humanities research in the UK. The collection opens a new chapter in the University’s rich history and adds to our thriving Special Collections and Archives section.

"The books are already being used for research and will help attract the very best students and scholars to Wales. We look forward to showing this wonderful collection to the people of Wales and developing its heritage potential with partners across the city and beyond."

During the reception, the Minister, said: "In the late nineteenth century John Ballinger, librarian of the then Cardiff Free Library started to collect rare and valuable material. We have much to thank him for. He amassed a collection of truly astonishing range and depth which has been cared for by Cardiff Council and its predecessors for over a century.

"The journey to transfer the books to Cardiff University began back in 2007 and it has involved a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication from the parties involved. I would like to thank everyone for the willingness to work together to achieve such a positive outcome. This evening demonstrates superbly what can be achieved through partnership. I think it also shows the importance collectively that we place as a nation on preserving and enriching our cultural life.

"You have the opportunity this evening to ‘turn the virtual pages’ of items from both the Cardiff collection and other material held by Cardiff University. This method of displaying cultural heritage items greatly opens up access for members of the public."

The Minister announced that the University will shortly be acquiring two additional Turning the Pages kiosks as a result of funding from the Welsh Assembly Government.

He added: "These kiosks will be available for loan to cultural institutions and will enhance the programme of loans and exhibitions, based on the Cardiff books, which Cardiff University are currently planning in Cardiff and more widely across Wales. This will enable a great many people to access and enjoy the contents of a wonderful collection."

Executive Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture, Cllr Nigel Howells said: "I am pleased that this collection of rare and antiquarian books, are remaining here in Cardiff and will be carefully looked after and safeguarded so that the people of Wales can continue to enjoy them for generations to come.

"The future of the books was a joint decision made by Cardiff Council in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff University and the Higher Funding Council for Wales. This is a prime example how all parties have come together for the good of the city".