So 2020, the strangest and saddest year most of us have ever known, draws to a close, and itâs time to take our more or less annual look back at the year in our Blog. And for those who are going to miss their new year fireworks tonight, weâve added some firework pictures from our collections for you to enjoy instead.
Fireworks outside the HĂŽtel de Ville in Paris to celebrate the birth of Louis, Duke of Burgundy, in 1682. From Jehan de la CitĂ©, LâHoÌtel de Ville de Paris et la GreÌve aÌ travers les aÌges (Paris, 1895) 10712.dd.1.
Back in January, the threat of a new coronavirus was still a fairly small news story, and we had no idea of the impact the disease would have. However, two of our January blog posts now seem somehow prescient of this year. We celebrated the fact that a collection of essays based on a 2000 BL symposium, featuring colleagues past and present, about European-language printing in Britain had been made available online , in a year when access to online content was to become ever more important for researchers unable to visit libraries. And a guest post from a Sheffield University student exploring the literature of Dutch colonialism in Suriname highlighted a topic which has become ever more resonant in 2020, as the growing influence of the Black Lives Matter movement has caused many cultural institutions, including the BL, to revisit and rethink their history and to discuss more openly the legacies of colonialism and slavery.
In some ways our blogging year continued with business as usual, celebrating the anniversaries of literary greats such as Anne BrontĂ« and Friedrich HĂ¶lderlin as well as figures less well known in the UK such as Italian childrenâs author Gianni Rodari . We also marked the anniversaries of General de Gaulleâs âAppel du 18 juinâ and German reunification, while a series of posts on the Polish Solidarity movement, founded in 1980, drew on our fascinating collections of ephemera from the period.
Afbeeldinge van de vuur wercken = Representation du feu dâartifice, a firework display in The Hague to celebrate a Dutch victory over French and Spanish forces at Vigo in 1702. Print by Daniel Marot, ca. 1702. Maps K.Top.107.45.ff.1.
Before lockdown changed all our lives, European Collections colleagues were involved with two public events: a celebration of the Serbian poet MiloĆĄ Crnjanski, and a day devoted to contemporary Nordic comics â one of the last live events the Library was able to hold on-site.
One of lockdownâs smaller problematic side-effects was of course we could not go into the office and order up collection items to write about and photograph for our blog posts. However, our wonderful team made the most of the BLâs digitised collections, of photos from our own files, of Creative Commons material online, and of links to digitised content from other institutions. A short series of posts looked at the pandemic from the perspective of partner institutions in South-Eastern Europe, including a link to a growing collection of online ephemera from the region.
A firework display in the town of Solothurn in 1777 to mark the renewal of a treaty between France and Switzerland. Print by L. Midart, 1777. Maps K.Top.85.84.d.
This was also a year when we posted a number of collaborative posts, where colleagues wrote small pieces on a range of subjects: childrenâs books, poetry in minority and endangered languages, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller writers, and, as a festive offering in December, Christmas carols.
Stealing an idea from Radio 4âs âSaturday Liveâ programme, we also began a series of âInheritance Booksâ posts where colleagues chose a book they had âinheritedâ when they joined the BL and one they had acquired or catalogued to âpass onâ to future generations. It was rather gratifying that our first two posts came respectively from one of our newest and one of our longest serving colleagues.
Itâs been a different and difficult year, but as blog editors we are hugely grateful to our colleagues and guest contributors for continuing to write for us, and to all who read, enjoy and share our posts. We canât wait to share more with you in 2021!
European Studies Blog editors