• Home
  • Bookbinding exhibit on display in Spencer Research Library

Bookbinding exhibit on display in Spencer Research Library

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Plainly Spoken
The University of Kansas Libraries will display “Plainly Spoken,” a traveling exhibit examining bookbinding history and unique binding methods, at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library this fall and winter. Organized by the Midwest Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers, the exhibition is inspired by the work of conservator and book historian Julia Miller.

In 1998, Miller began the monumental task of sifting through notes and observations made during her 30-year career as an archivist and conservator.  After eight years of additional research, she began to write “Books Will Speak Plain”, a 500-page work aimed at conservators, collectors, librarians and bibliophiles which elaborates on the identification and description of book structures and styles.

Bookbinders from across the country acquired the text to Miller’s book in folded sheets and, months later, presented them to a jury of three as a completed and unique binding of “Books Will Speak Plain”.  This exhibit, which includes the jury’s selections paired with items from Spencer’s Special Collections, includes a range of binding ideas: models that replicate books from a historical period, cross-sections that visually reveal their hidden structure, design bindings that interpret a concept from the text and artists’ bindings that manipulate materials to create something new.

Plainly Spoken

“Plainly Spoken” will be on display through early January. The KU Libraries will also host a gallery talk to discuss the exhibit with members of the jury for the exhibition as well as KU Libraries conservator Whitney Baker. The discussion, which is open to the public, will be held Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. in the exhibition area at the Spencer Research Library.

The Guild of Book Workers promotes interest in and awareness of the tradition of the book and paper arts by maintaining high standards of workmanship, hosting educational opportunities, and sponsoring exhibits. More information on the exhibit is available atmidwestgbw.wordpress.com/exhibits.

One of the top 50 libraries in the Association of Research Libraries by volumes held, and the largest library system in Kansas, KU Libraries advance discovery, innovation and learning for KU, the state and a rapidly expanding community of world scholars. 



1.5 million visits a year at 7 library locations
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection
—American Library Association
KU ScholarWorks offers access to more than 7,000 items created by KU faculty and students
An international leader in the open access movement
Users check out nearly 300,000 items every year
Users access more than 3.3 million articles online each year
More than 111,000 scores, books, sound recordings, and other volumes in Music & Dance Library
Anschutz Library serves as KU’s 24-hour study facility for students
More than 700 Vosper Society members support the mission of KU Libraries
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities