Book Arts Collection

I. Collection Description


To support research and teaching on the history of the book and the book arts. The programs which make most use of the book arts collections are the Graduate School of Library and Information Science which offers courses in historical and analytical bibliography and the departments; Art History, which offers courses in Books of Hours and other artistic book forms; and English, Germanic Languages and Literatures, the School of Music and several others which offer courses in bibliography and research methods.

History of Collection:

Titles in the book arts have been collected for many years but more consistently since the 1930s, when the rare book collection was organized and more heavily since the 1950s. The Book Arts fund was first designated in the mid 1970s, but the size of the annual allocation does not reflect the Library's major interest in this area or the scope of the collection which is enhanced mainly by the General and Library Friends funds. Most recently, the Library received a generous bequest of books and endowed funds to establish and maintain the Mary Jane Wilson San Francisco Fine Press collection.

Estimate of Holdings:

The exact size of the collection is unknown but probably exceeds 8,000 primary and secondary sources. The collection includes a number of important journals, such as Matrix, and maintains subscriptions to important series, such as those published Limited Editions Club, Roxburghe Club and the Book Club of California.

State, Regional and National Importance:

Within the state, holdings in both primary and secondary materials are exceeded only by the Newberry Library and possibly the University of Chicago. Within the Midwest, these libraries are closely approached by the Library of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Nationally, this Library would easily rank among the top ten libraries, with the holdings of secondary materials ranking more strongly than primary sources. The outstanding collection of incunabula numbers 1,130 titles and "copies."

Unit Responsible for Collecting:

Rare Book and Special Collections Library.

Location of Materials:

The rarest and most valuable items are in the Rare Book and Special Collections Library; many secondary items are found in the Bookstacks, in the Library and Information Science, Music, Art and Architecture (which has a rich collection of reproductions of and studies on illuminated manuscripts), and Biology Libraries.

Citations of Works Describing the Collection:

None available.

II. General Collection Guidelines


No restrictions, but preference for materials in English whenever possible.

Chronological Guidelines:

No restrictions. The Rare Book and Special Collections Library has several examples of bookmaking from the period preceding the introduction of printing in Europe (ca. 1450), as well as some papyri from about 200 A.D.

Geographical Guidelines:

No restrictions, but emphasis on materials from Western Europe and the United States.

Treatment of Subject:

The focus of the book arts is on the book and manuscript as cultural artifacts, stressing their physical aspects (printing, illustration, calligraphy, binding, and design) as well as their historical and intellectual context. The book arts collection consists of examples of works of fine printing, illustration, binding, and design; histories of printing, illustration, paper, and binding; technical works on these subjects; significant analytical, descriptive, and subject bibliographies, studies of distinguished printers and presses; studies of book collecting and works reflecting bibliophilic interests; reference books and bibliographies on all aspects of the book arts. The Rare Book and Special Collections Library collects outstanding examples of the book arts in the original format or in reproduction, and highly scholarly reference works and secondary studies. The Library and Information Science Library collects less expensive secondary sources. The Art and Architecture Library collects materials in the book arts as they relate to illustration and graphic art. The Communications Library purchases works on the history of the publishing industry and some departmental libraries, such as Biology and Music, acquire fine examples of the book arts when the intellectual content is related to disciplinary interests.

Types of Materials:

Standard statement. Materials of special interest are incunabula, broadsides, battledores, specimens of work from modern hand presses, and works containing examples of cancellanda, half-sheet imposition, gauffered edges, Japanese vellum, lithographic illustrations, etc.

Date of Publication:

No restrictions.

Place of Publication:

No restrictions, but emphasis is on works from Western Europe and the United States.

III. Collection Responsibility by Subject Subdivisions with Qualifications, Levels of Collecting Intensity, and Assignments

Existing Strength: subject holdings rated on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the most extensive).

Primary Assignment: departmental libraries that have the greatest collection intensity of subject materials, respectively.In the case of 2 or more libraries listed, the collection intensity is comparable.

Secondary Assignment: departmental libraries where additional materials may be found.

Books Arts Collection
Primary sources 3 Book Arts Art / Rare Book & Special Collections Library / Biology / Music
Secondary studies 4 Book Arts Library Science / Art / Communications


Version Date: November 2005