Lecture on Book Restoration Planned in Honor of National Festival

Eugene McDermott LIbrary

The Louise B. Belsterling Botanical Collection includes an assortment of rare botanical and horticultural books.

In support of the Library of Congress National Book Festival, which took place earlier this week, the UT Dallas Eugene McDermott Library will host a public lecture that highlights one of the University’s special collections.

Catherine Burkhard, master book restorer and calligrapher, will give a talk titled, “Making Books Functional.” She will discuss the basics of her work in restoring certain volumes in the University’s Louise B. Belsterling Botanical Collection, an assortment of rare botanical and horticultural books.

Burkhard’s talk will be at 1 p.m. Friday in the McDermott Suite of the Library. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“This presentation will provide practical information valuable to anyone interested in restoring and conserving books,” said Dr. Ellen Safley, dean of libraries.

The Louise B. Belsterling Botanical Collection includes the Flora Londinensis, a book that was meant to depict all the plant life growing within a 10-mile radius of London in 1775. Produced by botanist William Curtis, it features more than 400 hand-colored engraved plates. No more than 300 copies of the book were produced, and the McDermott volume is one of the few surviving complete copies. Flora Londinensis was also the library’s 1 millionth acquisition to its holdings.

Flora Londinensis

Flora Londinensis features more than 400 hand-colored engraved plates.

“The beautiful engraved illustrations and rich coloring are impressive. It’s not only a book useful for research, it’s a work of art,” said Paul A. Oelkrug, coordinator for special collections at UT Dallas.  

Also included in the Collection is the University’s oldest book, Herbarium Latinum by Arnaldus de Villanova, which was printed in 1499.

The Collection was donated to the University by Louise Babcock Belsterling, who taught gardening for many years and published her Planting Manual for Dallas Gardens in 1941. Belsterling was an active member of the Dallas Garden Club of the Dallas Woman’s Club and was considered to be an authority on Dallas gardening. In addition, Belsterling created an extensive private library of rare books covering horticulture and botany.

Each year, the Louise B. Belsterling Foundation of the Dallas Garden Club donates funds to add to the growing number of books in the collection. The funds are also used to grant scholarships for research in horticulture at the graduate level.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].