Libraries, the universe and everything

And now for something completely different…

This week I’ve had two new experiences, all in the name of networking – never let anyone tell you librarians don’t like to try new things! I must admit that neither manuscript illumination nor stand-up-paddleboarding were activities I’d previously thought of as options for professional networking, but I had lots of fun trying them both in company with some great groups of people.

Last Saturday saw a collection of ARLIS/NY members assemble for a daytime workshop on manuscript illumination. Instructed by the artist Rebecca Allan, we learned how to transfer our chosen design, apply metal leaf to specific areas, and then make our own egg tempera paint and use it appropriately.

I selected an initial from the book of Kells, and then did my best to simplify it to a level that might work for my limited artistic abilities. Making the paint was a satisfyingly hands-on activity: egg tempera is created by cracking and separating an egg, using a thumb-tack (or other spiky object) to puncture the yolk and squeezing out the centre before discarding the membrane, adding a little water and then dropping some of the egg mix into the pigment paste. We were mainly using natural pigments so the resulting paint tended to separate quickly, and it gave a lovely translucent effect. It turns out that the jewel colours in Medieval manuscript illumination are the result of many thin layers of paint, painstakingly applied with tiny brushes, and having spent a couple of hours doing this myself I have a heightened respect for their artistic abilities and craftsmanship!


Stand-up-paddleboarding is something I’d been wanting to try for ages, so I was delighted when a friend and fellow SLA New Yorker offered to organise an after-work outing. We thought this would be a fun summer activity, and indeed it was. Attendees could choose between kayaks and paddleboards, and around 15 of us signed up for the session. It ended up being a beautiful evening, with a light breeze, and being on the Hudson as the sun set over New Jersey and all the Manhattan lights came on was really special.

Photos (and paddling) thanks to Kara Masciangelo!

As for the paddleboarding itself, I loved it! It turns out that skiing is just the right preparation for the leg muscles required to stand up and balance on the board, and the basic paddling technique was easy enough to understand. Within just a few minutes I was up and paddling happily around the embayment, and with a few pointers from a more experienced friend I was moving a bit more efficiently too. After some time by the pier we ventured a little upriver, where we rafted up for group photos before heading back in.

Out of the shelter of the pier, the waves were somewhat larger, and from the standing-up viewpoint looked larger still, so I knelt down for part of the return journey in order to avoid taking a dip in the river. Wine and nibbles back on the dock provided the perfect end to the evening, and I think everyone was keen for a repeat excursion – I know I am!


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