UPDATE, May 18, 2018:  Access to the library’s catalog has been restored. Users are now able to renew, recall, request materials, and pay fines. Requests for materials from ASRS are also available. If you are experiencing any difficulties, please contact us for technical assistance.

Due to an upgrade to the Library’s Catalogue, users will not be able to renew, recall, or request materials, or pay fines starting Sunday May 13, 2018 at 6 p.m.. Requests for materials from ASRS will also be unavailable. Requests for materials from PARC are still available. Full service is expected to resume May 19, 2018. 

Users who already have either UBC cards or Community library cards will be able to:

  • Sign out books
  • Access the public workstations with CWL or a barcode and PIN
  • Place document delivery, Interlibrary loan and media booking requests
  • Request items from Library PARC
  • Access the public workstations

Users will not be able to:

  • Renew books
  • Place recalls
  • Pay fines
  • Use the self-check machines
  • Access materials stored in ASRS including materials from Rare Books and Special Collections and UBC Archives
  • Access your MyAccount

Users with UBC ID cards issued between May 13 and 18 will not be able to:

  • Place document delivery, Interlibrary loan and media booking requests
  • Renew books
  • Place recalls
  • Pay fines
  • Use the self-check machines
  • Access MyAccount
  • Access materials stored in ASRS including materials from Rare Books and Special Collections and UBC Archives 
  • Access public workstations with CWL or a barcode and PIN (Users may obtain a guest login at any circulation desk and use that to login to the computers.)

Please note that users will not incur fines for books due during this period.

For assistance, please contact the UBC Library Vancouver Circulation Desk at 604 822 2406, the UBC Library Okanagan Circulation Desk at 250 807 9107 or contact us for technical assistance.

We apologize for any inconvenience as we work to improve your experience with UBC Library systems. 

We here at the Digitization Centre were wondering: “What can I learn from the Early printed books and Western manuscripts”? We found the answer: “A lot of things.” This time, we chose to discuss what we found out about the history of typography.

The earliest printed books were produced to be similar to handwritten manuscripts by imitating scribal handwriting. It was common to send books to be finished by the hands of illuminators (who created initial letters and illustrations) and rubricators (who added text in red to highlight important information).

In general, people from the medieval era couldn’t distinguish manuscripts from early printed books because the books were produced in a way to imitate scribal handwriting. Even now, it can be difficult to distinguish the two forms. An example of this can be found in the Book of Hours, which is probably a manuscript rather than a book, but features the work of illuminators and rubricators.

[Book of hours], 1440

When printing the Bible, Gutenberg used the Textura quadrata script, commonly used for books in churches. To make it similar to scribal handwriting, he created and used about 300 types, which included ligatures and abbreviated letters.

Examples of other scripts that were used in manuscripts and early books in medieval Europe include:

  • Textura quadrata: a type of gothic script, where the black of the letters overcomes the white of the page. Used for books in churches.
  • Rotunda: another type of gothic script, used in books. It was created in Bologna, in the 12th
  • Bastarda: a third type of gothic script, used in documents and for formal information, such as the French and Burgundian book of hours from the 15th
  • Carolingian minuscule: created in the 8th century during the governing of Charlemagne. It is the basis for the Roman type that we use today.


Examples of gothic scripts

Can you differentiate from Textura quadrata, Rotunda and Bastarda? These materials can help you if you want to try: Fonts for Latin paleography and Dawn of Western printing.

Roemische Historien, 1574


Der Römischen Kaiserlichen Maiestat Edict wider D. Martin Luther seine Anhenger Enthalter und Nachuolger…, 1546


[Catholicon], 1460


Carolingian minuscule

This script deserves its own section. The person responsible for the creation of this type of letter is not clear. Some say that Alcuin of York was the primary creator, while others say that the style actually was developed over time. But Alcuin of York’s contributions go beyond the creation of the Carolingian minuscule. He instructed scribes to use easy-to-read letters, insert spaces between words, a capital letter at the beginning of sentences, and to use punctuation on texts.

The Carolingian minuscule had clear forms and did not make use of ligatures and abbreviations, which made the information legible. The script was used for legal documents and literary works, which in turn contributed to increased communication and information comprehension.

The Carolingian minuscule, as mentioned before, gave origin to the Roman type that we still use today.

M. Fabii Quintiliani rhetoris clarrissimi Oratoriarum institutionum libri XII : opera ac studio Ioachimi…, 1543


Orlando furioso, 1577


Check out our Western Manuscripts and early Printed Books to see the different scripts used and appreciate the beauty of these works.



8th century: the Roman letterform is revived by the Carolingians (Design history)

A guide for the perplexed (Mark Bland)

Blackletter: the gothic hands 12-15th C. (Design history)

Early printed books (First impressions)

Features of early printed books (First impressions)

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