Discovering a retchoso sewn book in the Asian Collection

Asian thread binding was invented in China many hundreds of years ago, well before the codex was invented in Europe. It was quickly adopted throughout South East Asia as it is a relatively easy binding to produce and does not require years of learning. The technique of asian thread binding has not changed over a millenia.

There are two main thread binding styles; in Japan these are called fukuro-toji, yamato-toji, each with their own peculiarities, and a little known one called retchoso (sometimes spelt recchoso), found only in Japan.

Glossographia—a very special dictionary

A question came through the Ask a Librarian service—"I found The Glossographia in your catalogue. I would like to see the original 1656 version. Can I see it online?"

Glossographia? This is not a word you can look up in a dictionary; rather it is the title of a lexicon or dictionary of unusual words put together by one Thomas Blount, published in 1656.

Glossographia; or, a dictionary interpreting the hard words of whatsoever language, now used in our refined English tongue – Thomas Blount 1656

The mysterious Mr Alexander H. Shaw


While Central London enjoyed the spoils of the rise of the printing industry in the late eighteenth century, the Strand became a hub for the book trade and fashionable buyers, and a quiet man was seemingly swallowed up. How can it be that so very little is known about Mr Alexander Shaw, of No. 379, Strand—the man for whom the now celebrated book of tapa cloth samples collected by Captain James Cook, was ‘arrainged and printed’?

Chasing the polar bear

As a child my favourite animal was the polar bear. It may have been because it exemplified the polar opposite of my experience growing up in steamy, tropical Brisbane. It may have also been the not-so-subliminal connection to ice-cream through the image of the frosty Paul’s polar bear. Whatever it was, it has persisted. Although, a love of animals in all forms has grown throughout my life as I’ve become more aware of the depredations humans enforce on the animal kingdom.  

Meet Judith

Judith has just completed a project with NLA Publishing researching images from the National Library’s collection from the 1960s and each Wednesday takes people on tours through our Treasures Gallery. She is a volunteer here at the Library—and because it is National Volunteer Week, we decided to find out more about her.


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