Ligatus Research Centre

The Ligatus Research Centre offers a unique environment within the University of the Arts London, where the study of the history of bookbinding and book conservation is combined with research into semantic data structures and collection survey tools.

Director Professor: Nicholas Pickwoad

Deputy Director: Dr Athanasios Velios


Karen Di Franco: k.difranco[@]
Ewelina Warner: e.warner[@]


Saint Catherine’s Monastery Library, Mount Sinai, Egypt

The monastery of St Catherine in the Sinai, Egypt, is the oldest active Christian monastery in the world. The monastery’s library holds a unique collection of Byzantine manuscripts. Ligatus undertook the task of assessing the condition of the manuscripts, has designed a new conservation workshop, a stainless steel box for the manuscripts and is advising on further conservation work.

Bookbinding terminology

Ligatus is leading the development of a terminology for historic bookbinding. Following a project which resulted in a detailed bookbinding glossary and a methodology to record historic bookbindings; Ligatus is now leading a large network of European partners in the development of a widely adopted bookbinding thesaurus based on semantic web standards.

Digital archive of bookbinding

Ligatus is pioneering the development of methodologies for documenting heritage archives. Following the proposal of Creative Archiving where the archivist's subjectivity is turned into an advantage by introducing an interpretation layer through modern software tools; Ligatus is developing ways to enable the conceptual linking of heritage archives based on semantic technologies (Linked Open Data).

Decorated Paper Project

Ligatus, in collaboration with specialists in the field, is currently developing a digital tool for identifying decorated papers. This project aims to compile a database of described and photographed decorated papers in order to provide a reference collection and a tool to assist any user (expert or non-specialist) in the identification and recording of decorated papers. The papers to be included in this reference collection are only decorated papers from Western Europe, found in/on books made from the earliest date possible to the beginning of the nineteenth century. The images are defined by terms, which allow them to be retrieved easily. Based on the existing literature, the terminology of decorated paper used here as basic metadata is being converted to the SKOS schema. Once set up, the database will be open to submissions from its user-group, thus expanding the range and specificity of the examples held in the database. Users are encouraged to submit images of papers and bibliographical information of books in which they have found decorated papers identical or similar to the examples from the database. This will create a more versatile tool with potential material for research in paper history.


Contact: a.martin[@]


Ligatus has compiled a bibliography specialised on the history of bookbinding and available on the website ( The list includes references on decorated papers and links to websites related to historical bindings (databases, blogs or individual webpages on specific topics), from academic or non-academic sources, irrespectively of their scientific reliability.




Ligatus Research Centre
CCW Graduate School
University of the Arts London
16 John Islip Street