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

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