Exhibition: Books as Historical Artifacts: An Examination of the Book Beyond the Text

April 24, 2013 – May 14, 2013
St. Augustine Hall, 3rd Floor
rare book 2Physical books are both texts and artifacts; objects that indicate distinct histories of design, production and use.  Printed works reflect the technologies of paper and parchment making, type casting and printing, and binding – each recording historical developments in book production. They also give clues to past ownership and readership through book plates, inscriptions, marginalia and the occasional ephemera tucked inside their pages (clippings, letters, pressed flowers, etc.). It may well be that the future of the physical book is in peril, replaced by electronic and digitized versions. But books as artifacts of the past will continue to impart other meanings beyond the textual content.

The twelve books on exhibition – dating from the sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries – were examined and described by graduate students in the Library and Information Science and Public History programs at St. John’s University. The class on special collections librarianship and the history of books and printing was taught by archivist and special collections librarian, Dr. Blythe Roveland-Brenton. The co-curators are: Audrey Belanger, Katie Daniels, Nicole Husbands, Egita Johnson, David McMahon, Janay Meertens-Deans, Kendra Meyer, Christina Orozco, Melissa Perlzweig, Laura Smith, Matthew Weidemann, and Porscha Williams.

Interested in these or other rare books from the University Libraries Special Collections department? Contact us at archives@stjohns.edu to make an appointment.

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