Wednesday 29 September 2010

Laetitia Sadier

We are pleased to be hosting an exclusive performance by legendary musician Laetitia Sadier at the Library on Sunday evening. Laetitia, a founder member of the post-rock outfit Stereolab, recently created an inspired and evocative soundtrack to the short film 'marxism today (prologue)', showing at Manchester's Cornerhouse until November 28th. Renowned for audacious formal experiments in a wide range of musical styles and for the socio-political concerns which permeate their lyrics, Stereolab have historically been termed ‘Marxist pop.’ Since 2003 Sadier has been recording and releasing music with her side-project Monade.

The concert is taking place as part of the Abandon Normal Devices Festival and will be held this Sunday 3rd October at 8pm for a 9pm start, with complimentary drinks included in the ticket price of £10.50/£8.50. Advanced booking is essential.

Friday 24 September 2010

A book of emblems

More madness from the shelves at Chetham's Library, this week in the form of these delightful engravings from Francis Quarle's Emblems. The idea is to represent Christian truths using verse and imagery but to the twenty-first century eye it is not always crystal clear exactly what is going on. We especially liked the apparently random inclusion of various regional towns and villages in the image above, probably places known to Quarle himself.

Below, a rather strange game of tennis seems to have ended badly...

An unusual game of celestial bar billiards is taking place in this plate...

Some of the images are simply to be enjoyed for their composition and quality of line...

Still confused? Perhaps the concept of the emblem is best expressed by Quarle himself in his note to the reader:

"An embleme is but a silent Parable. Let not the tender Eye check, to see the allusion to our blessed Saviour figued in these Types. In holy Scripture, he is sometimes called a Sower; sometimes, a Fisher; sometimes a Physician: And why not presented so as well to the eye as to the ear? Before the knowledge of letters God was known by Hieroglyphicks: And indeed, what are the Heavens, the Earth, nay every Creature, but Hieroglyphicks and Emblemes of His Glory? I have no more to say, I wish thee as much pleasure in the reading, as I had in writing. Farewel Reader."

As usual, please click on any of the images to see a larger size.

Friday 10 September 2010

We shall be pleased to accept the polecat

We are still adding to our collection of material about Belle Vue Zoo and Pleasure Gardens. Until this remarkable and well-loved establishment closed in the 1970s, it was Manchester's principal centre of entertainment, attracting numerous stars of screen and vinyl as well as new recruits to the Zoological Gardens, as this letter from 1930 shows. Quite what Miss A.T. Davies of The Bungalow was doing with a polecat we shall perhaps never know, but it is reassuring to know that he or she went to a good home.

We are always interested in receiving additional items relating to Belle Vue or the Jennison family, so do please get in touch if you have anything that, like the polecat, could do with some 'care and attention'.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Wife in a bag

This wonderfully mad illustration is taken from The Economy of Beauty, 'a series of fables addressed to the ladies', which is one of the books we are currently minding for Manchester Central Library while they undergo building works. Over the past fortnight, a good number of these have been catalogued by Alexandra Tyler, a third year English student at New College Oxford, who has kindly given up a part of her summer vacation to help out here at the Library. Before she left she was good enough not only to leave us a large box of delicious chocolates, but also to jot down a few words for our blog readers. Alexandra writes:

"Several months ago, the combination of a looming (and excessively long) university vacation and a love of all things book-related led to my getting in touch with Chetham's Library, in the hope that they could find me something useful and interesting to do during the summer. Undeterred by Michael's dire warnings about the future of librarianship, I arrived at the library ready and eager to make a hopefully quite significant dent in the rather intimidating task that was cataloguing the mountain of Central Library tracts, currently taking refuge at Chetham's during the former's three-year facelift.

The tracts, which range from the literary to the scientific, form part of a large body of uncatalogued works within the library's collection; my job was to identify the pre-1800 tracts and add them to the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), thus establishing their presence at the library for those who might have need of them.

After two weeks there remains plenty to be done, perhaps partly because of the distracting nature of the writings themselves - brimming with the charming and the downright wacky - but it's definitely a start!"

Thanks very much to Alexandra and all good wishes for her future studies.

We all particularly enjoyed this work from a collection of tracts relating to the Poor Laws. The word 'care' in the title, however, does not perhaps represent quite the sort of care we might wish to offer today, as a glance at the second image will reveal...

On the radio

Chetham's Library features on the BBC Radio 4 programme What's the Point of... the Public Library, broadcast yesterday but available on BBC iPlayer until Tuesday 7th September and well worth a listen.

In the programme, Quentin Letts looks at how public libraries have changed since their earliest beginnings, asks whether they carry any validity in today's society and comes to some surprising conclusions.