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13 September 2023 - 13 September 2023

11:00AM - 3:00PM

Cosin's Library, Palace Green Library, Palace Green, Durham DH1 3RN

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Conservators will be showing some of the tools and techniques of the kind of traditional hand bookbinding found in Cosin's Library.

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A book on display

Cosin was a great lover of books, as demonstrated by the motto he had put above the entrance to his library: “non minima eruditionis est bonos nosse libros” not the least part of learning is to know good books). It is unclear when exactly he began collecting books, but we know that he kept a collection at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, and gathered a great many volumes while exiled in France. When he became Bishop of Durham after his return to England, one of his main priorities was the building of the library. In fact, within a few weeks of his arrival at Durham in 1628 he drew up a new Act of Dean and Chapter for the reform and restauration of their library. He also acted as de facto librarian, at least until 1633-34, when Elias Smith, minor canon, was first paid as keeper of the books, and office which he performed until 1676. In 2005, the library was awarded Designated status by the MLA (the predecessor of Arts Council England) in recognition of its national and international significance. 

Once the library was finished, Cosin merged his various collections and began stocking its shelves. It is listed in his will that the entirety of his book collection was worth £2000 at the time of his death (approximately £227,557 in present day currency). These days, however, the library shelves not only contain books purchased and donated by the Bishop, but also the collections of his successors and early donors.



No booking required but there may be a wait to enter Cosin's Library due to restricted numbers in this space.