May 30, 2023 Library Preservation Head Invited to Library of Congress
Randy Silverman, Head of Preservation at the J. Willard Marriott Library recently attended the From Jikji to Gutenberg Colloquium, held at the Library of Congress on April 13th & 14th. It was the first face-to-face meeting of 40 scholars, material culture specialists and scientists who comprise the project. The discussions provided an opportunity to effectively share expertise and communicate across a variety of disciplines and languages. The colloquium succeeded in forming a more inclusive picture of the historic origins of printing as it first flowered in Eastern Asia and Western Europe. The Program Preprints, produced by the UNESCO International Centre for Documentary Heritage in Cheongju, Korea, are shared here to provide program highpoints.
The Library of Congress blog post about the event stated, “The colloquium was part of the From Jikji to Gutenberg project originally conceived by Randy Silverman, Head of Preservation, at the University of Utah Marriott Library.” Silverman, the principal investigator, wrote successful grants to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation to support the travel costs for scholars, material specialists and scientists to participate in the Colloquium. The Library of Congress Preservation Directorate is a collaborator and generous supporter of the From Jikji to Gutenberg project.
When asked about the experience, Silverman said, “The Library of Congress is such an inspiring institution and an important partner for this project. Redefining commonly held beliefs about the historic origins of printing is of international importance and well within the Library of Congress’s scope as a world leader.” Colloquium attendees were treated to tours of the conservation lab where collection items included a volume of the 42-line Gutenberg Bible and numerous piece of the oldest examples of type in this country, Korean Kabinja cast in 1434 and predating the 42-line Gutenberg Bible by at least 20 years.
Currently, the project plans to hold “multiple, simultaneous exhibits in libraries internationally in 2027 to commemorate the 650th anniversary of the printing of Jikji,” Silverman said, and the list of sites includes the J. Willard Marriott Library. Additionally, there are plans to publish a full-color exhibition catalog made up of essays written by the project’s scholars, material specialists and scientists. Silverman hopes with the Library of Congress’s support it is only a matter of time before people recognized that Korean printing from metal movable type occurred prior to Gutenberg’s invention by at least 200 years, and that East Asian woodblock printing appearing 500 years before woodblock technology reached Europe.
“Literacy in the region was held in extremely high regard,” Silverman explained. “It is imperative we bridge the language and cultural barriers to better appreciate the innovative contributions of our neighbors on the other side of the planet. Paper, impression printing, and movable, interchangeable metal type all originated in East Asia. Mechanization, which included a system for locking up type, supported accurate duplex-printing and most importantly, a dramatic increase in the rate of production speed. “Gutenberg didn’t invent printing,” Silverman notes. “The West is indebted to East Asian innovations [whether the technology served as a model or the inventions developed independently.”
The From Jikji to Gutenberg project was made possible through the support of many staff & faculty from the J. Willard Marriott Library as well as from the University of Utah campus community including:
- Darryl P. Butt, Dean of the College of Mines and Earth Sciences and recently appointed Dean of the Graduate School
- Thure Edward Cerling, Distinguished Professor of Geology & Geophysics
- Hailey Palmer, our Sponsored Projects Officer at the University’s Office of Sponsored Projects
- Alberta Comer, Alice Sheets Marriott Dean of Libraries
- Todd Samuelson, Associate Dean for Special Collections
- The Marriott Library Preservation Department including Jeff Hunt, Susan Schlotterbeck, Frank Pester and Peggy Leo
- Lyuba Basin, Rare Books Curator
- Dawn Ashment, Greg Midgley and Paul Johansen, Financial Management
- Angela Wilkins, Marriott Library Media Specialist and Lead, Student Computing Services
- Tony Sams, Video Studio Specialist
- Leah Donaldson, Project Web Designer and Webmaster
- Heidi Brett and Jordan Hanzon, Marketing & Public Relations
- Jeffrey Davis, Graphic Design Specialist
- Jesse Whitchurch, Development Director
- Grace Drouin-Campbell, Grants & Contracts Officer