Library and Archives Focus Exhibit – Book Cover Binding and Design Now Up!

We are thrilled to have our most ambitious library and archives focus exhibit to date open for visitors. This is some serious eye candy for book cover design fans. Here are just a few pics from the show but it really is worth seeing them in person.  You have some time, the show is up until February 19, 2016.


1 thought on “Library and Archives Focus Exhibit – Book Cover Binding and Design Now Up!

  1. I was greatly disappointed in the book binding exhibit when I visited the Museum the other day. According to the Museum’s description of this Exhibit, visitors are asked to “explore the variety of book bindings and coverings . . . [and to] consider the purpose of the cover as a marketing tool.“ I came away knowing there should have been much more to the exhibit, even while keeping to the exhibit’s narrow stated focus and to the limited space afforded.

    This exhibit falls short of its own criteria. I thought there would be more examples of binding cover types, or at least mention of the various types. Though, in addition to leather, cloth and paper covered bindings, there are displayed a book in metal covers, a spiral metal spring-type binding, and an “accordian” type binding – the books on display do not include (nor does the written matter mention) such coverings as fur, plastic, celluloid, bone, just wood, etc., and there are no books identified as being bound with string, staples, metal or plastic “combs,” etc. There is no example of a “shape” book, covers with moving parts or other cover types designed to appeal to little folk. Finally, there are insufficient examples of fine, tooled, bindings, and highly ornate cloth bindings (such as those of the late Victorian and early 20thC).

    While the exhibit description limits bindings to the periods 1700 and after, the written matter of the display should include a more developed history of book bindings pre 1700 to better place the 1700 plus bindings in perspective. What were the first books? How was papyrus bound? Or was it? When did written matter appear on covers? When did covers get illustrations? When were covers used for advertisements? When did casing (instead of binding) come into being and why? What is perfect binding? How are paperbacks bound? What is the trade paperback format?

    I also recall that the exhibit’s printed wall display shows and names the parts of a book. While most people do refer to a book’s covers as the “front” cover and the “back” cover, a book’s covers are historically described as “top” and “bottom.” And the spine of the book is historically called the “back” of the book. Visitors should know this, and also the reasons for the nomenclature.

    I’m guessing this exhibit is a sort of traveling exhibit, with everything but the books and display cases provided. A relatively inexpensive exhibit to put in place, with limited space needed. I continue to enjoy your Museum exhibits and efforts and I look forward to seeing the upcoming exhibit of the Shakespeare first folio. But please, put more effort in reviewing and producing the smaller boilerplate exhibits.

    I know perhaps a little more about books than the average museum goer, and I reason if this exhibit contains shortcomings I can discern, what about those exhibits of which I know less or little? Are they perhaps missing key information or information I could have absorbed to make my experience more fulfilling? Are other museum goers with special knowledge in other areas seeing shortcomings and thinking like me?

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