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Magazines > Information Today > January/February 2022

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Information Today
Vol. 39 No. 1 — Jan/Feb 2022
Prince Charles Helps Keep Historical Manuscripts in the U.K.

by John Charlton

Prince Charles has thrown his royal weight behind a fundraising campaign to keep a treasure trove of literary manuscripts in the U.K. He is patron of the Friends of the National Libraries (FNL), which is leading the campaign to keep the Honresfield Library Collection in the U.K. The collection was slated to be auctioned by Sotheby’s in summer 2021, but it, and the unnamed sellers, agreed to postpone the sale to give the FNL time to raise £15 million (about $20.2 million). 

“We don’t have a deadline as such,” FNL secretary Nell Hoare says via email. “[T]he owners are generously giving us time to raise the £15m required to purchase the whole collection. … We have also had fantastic support from the public, with donations totalling over £140,000 [about $189,000] from nearly 1,500 people. Obviously, this is a small part of the £15m that we require, but having such strong public support is enormously helpful when it comes to making our case to funders.”

In a statement, the FNL says, “As a whole, [the collection] is of such significance that no similar private library of English and Scottish literature in manuscript and print has been placed on the open market for many decades nor is such a collection ever likely to appear again.” 

The Daily Mail  reports that the National Heritage Memorial Fund has donated £4 million (about $5.4 million) of taxpayers’ money to the fund and that Prince Charles has made a donation. He writes in The Daily Mail, “[A]s patron of the Friends of the National Libraries, I recognise the critical importance of their noble campaign to ensure that some of the most precious manuscripts associated with our greatest authors are kept in this country rather than being dispersed abroad.” In addition, “the idea of reading these manuscripts is thrilling beyond words,” and “the idea of them being lost to this country is too awful to contemplate.”

The Honresfield Library Collection includes letters by Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austen, an Emily Brontë holograph notebook of poems, manuscripts by Sir Walter Scott, and poems by Robert Burns in his own hand. 


In Spain, Google’s news service looks likely to return to national domain websites after the country adopted a European Union copyright directive that gives third-party online news platforms the opportunity to deal directly with content providers. Google News, with its links to third-party content, closed in Spain in 2014 after it became liable to pay licensing fees to publish already published headlines and news extracts. This follows the European Commission’s decision in July 2021 to initiate legal action against member states, including Spain, that had failed to implement the new Copyright Directive into their national law. It should have come into effect on June 7.


It’s not every day that a Gutenberg Bible fragment comes along. When one did, New Zealand’s Alexander Turnbull Library bought it for almost 200,000 New Zealand dollars (about $140,620). This may seem extravagant—certainly compared to my annual biscuit spend—but chief librarian Chris Szekely says via email, “The rare books and fine printing collection of the Turnbull Library rates among the finest in Australasia. The acquisition of the fragment not only addresses a gap in the collection but complements other items such as those in the [New Zealand] Bible Society Collection, the Sir Arthur Howard Bible Collection and the Society of Mary and Catholic Diocese of Wellington collection. The fragment’s inclusion in the collection affords New Zealanders the rare opportunity to learn about the history of the printed book in Europe (and by extension in New Zealand) by means of an original, tangible object.”

The fragment is a folio leaf that comprises 42 lines of printed text in black ink. It contains part of the Book of Isaiah 63:1 to 65:22, which includes the prophet’s pronouncements on God’s mercy and forgiveness (Isaiah 63.9). Szekely would not comment directly on whether the library would try to acquire other Gutenberg fragments, instead saying, “As material becomes available on the market we consider each item on its own merits, looking at factors such as provenance, research value, fit with collection policy and collecting plans and price.”

There are about 50 Gutenberg Bibles worldwide, but only about 20 are complete. 


Türk Telekom, a Turkish national communications provider, says in a press release that “it continues to carry out projects that will raise awareness for the visually impaired. …” Those who are visually disabled will receive free access to audiobooks and works of art via Türk Telekom’s Phone Library app and other digital platforms. They “can easily access nearly 2,000 audiobooks in 50 categories and 30 world-famous audio-descriptive paintings. …” Türk Telekom also provides an EyeSense app, which “allows visually impaired people to take pictures using the front and rear cameras of the phone. Thanks to EyeSense’s voice commands, users can take selfies and use social media easily.”


The U.K.’s Publishers Association is calling on U.K. publishers to do their bit to fight climate change, protect nature and biodiversity, and adopt sustainable practices. It has asked publishers to sign and abide by the Publishing Declares Climate Action pledge, which aims to raise awareness of sustainability issues most relevant to the U.K. book and journal publishing industry. At the time of this writing, 64 organizations have signed, including HarperCollins, Hachette, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Canongate Books, and Nosy Crow. 

By joining the campaign, the publishers and book companies agree to specific aims set out in the pledge. These include joining the efforts to limit glo­bal warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by setting measurable targets across their own operations and in their supply chains; collaborating with authors, peers, illustrators, and supply chain partners to turn climate aspirations and commitments into tangible actions; making innovative use of new and recycled materials; and raising awareness of climate change issues. 

Publishers Association media relations manager Jasmine Joynson says via email that the organization will “continue to facilitate the sharing of best practice with a view to supporting organisations [to] deliver on the promises in the pledge.” She adds that it plans to produce a report on where climate change risks are likely in supply chains, a carbon calculator to help publishers understand the source of their greenhouse gas emissions and how they can reduce their overall impact, and a materials index to help publishers understand the environmental impacts of their products through the materials they use. 


Scientists in Poland and Slovenia are working on a 3-year project that will analyze the historical significance of odors emitted by artifacts. The research will focus on 10 objects, including Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Lady With the Ermine

Elżbieta Zygier, head conservator at Poland’s National Museum in Krakow, tells Science in Poland, “Institutions often perceive odours emitted by objects as unnecessary information, and even be unwanted pollution. However, the visitors will now be able to explore the smell of historic objects in a completely new and little researched way. This really is a breakthrough project.”


FNL’s Honresfield Appeal
FNL’s statement on the latest Honresfield news

“Prince Charles’ Library SOS: Royal Warns of Race Against Time to Save Our Treasured Literary Collection for the Nation”

“Spain Adopts EU Copyright Law, Paving Way for Google News to Return”

“Upload Filters: 23 EU Member States Face Legal Action Over Copyright Law Delays”

“Gutenberg Comes to Wellington”

Accessible Digital Life for the Visually Impaired From Türk Telekom press release (translation required)

Publishing Industry Makes Sustainability Pledge press release

Publishing Declares Climate Action pledge

“Researchers to Explore Smells of Historical Objects”

John CharltonDuring a long journalistic career, John Charlton has covered fields such as technology, law, business, and publishing for publications as diverse as Computer Weekly and The Guardian. Send your comments about this article to or tweet us (@ITINewsBreaks).