Keeping Up-to-Date with an Age-Old-Art

JMU Libraries’ Preservation Officer Attends Summer Workshops at Cat Tail Run School for Bookbinding Arts by Julia Merkel The time to hone “bench” skills, learn new repair techniques, and catch up with colleagues in the book arts is always a welcome opportunity. This Summer, I was able to attend three workshops at the Cat Tail Run Bindery. Incidentally, the school and bindery are run by proprietor Jill Deiss, a JMU graduate. The bindery opened in 1991, and the School for Bookbinding Arts followed soon after as an alternative to traditional apprenticeships. Deiss believes that bookbinding can be effectively taught through short, focused courses within a carefully designed curriculum (perfect for working professionals.) She has seen her students develop advanced skills with many going on to full conservation training. Cat Tail Run is a busy and magical little place tucked away in the wooded rolling hills northwest of Winchester, Virginia. Customers of the bindery are as varied as private citizens wishing to have family bibles restored or new theses and dissertations bound to oversize county record books built to withstand extremely heavy use to prestigious institutions such as the Folger Shakespeare Library, the National Cathedral, or the Smithsonian requiring period appropriate Continue reading Keeping Up-to-Date with an Age-Old-Art

The 19th Amendment: A History of Women’s Rights at JMU

By Fiona Wirth JMU Libraries is pleased to present the sixth Dressing for Education exhibit collaboration between Special Collections and the JMU Historic Clothing Collection. This exhibit celebrates the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment’s ratification and explores the civic engagement of women on campus through artifacts, manuscripts, and clothing. The 19th Amendment: A History of Women’s Rights at JMU is free and open to the public during all library hours in the historic west wing of Carrier Library now through Spring 2020. This exhibit was curated by Julia Merkel ‘92M and Pamela Schuelke Johnson ‘90M with the assistance of Madison Whitesell ‘17, Ashley Roth ‘17, Fiona Wirth ‘18, Matthew Perkins ‘18, and Renessa Rabenda ‘21. As a student assistant for Special Collections and Preservation, I was incredibly involved behind the scenes in the research, writing, and curation of this exhibit. My introduction to the exhibit process began in Summer 2017, a year after planning had already begun by previous assistants. While a basic outline had been organized and rudimentary background research formatted, I was tasked with perusing resources to configure the best examples with which to pursue our narrative. In researching the history of women’s civic engagement at Continue reading The 19th Amendment: A History of Women’s Rights at JMU

Unearthing the Past through Pop-Ups

by Jen LeMay As a kid I always found the world an amazing mysterious place full of people in the present and made from the past. Today I’m an archaeologist intent on exploring and bringing to light those lives of the past, the cultures they come from and their everyday life. More specifically I’m fascinated by the Mediterranean-Ancient Greece & Rome, the great pharaohs that ruled the lands of Egypt, the Alexandrian Library, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, etc. While interning with James Madison University’s Special Collections & Preservation team, I’ve had the opportunity to pursue my passion in a very unique way. Recently my colleague, Fiona Wirth, and I have gotten to inventory a large collection of pop-up books in preparation for cataloging; pop-up books are full of interactive movement, pulling tabs, lifting flaps, spinning rotating volvelle wheels, and of course seeing images pop up in 3-D before your eyes—paper magic. However, not all are for kids as you might imagine. Behold my favorite, “Ancient Rome: Monuments Past & Present” by archaeologist R.A Staccioli and translated into English by H. Garrett. This is not a normal pop-up book though, as it only has clear overlaid sheets that help reconstruct what Continue reading Unearthing the Past through Pop-Ups

The Carol Barton Pop-Up Book Collection

by Fiona Wirth Have you ever had an interest in paper engineering? The Carol Barton Pop-Up Collection found in Special Collections has over 700 examples of movable books. Jen LeMay and Fiona Wirth, two student assistants, spent several weeks this summer preparing the collection for use. Additions to Special Collections require organization, preservation, and archival processing. Fiona and Jen were tasked with recording each book’s structure and analyzing the multi-faceted techniques used to engineer these three dimensional worlds. Elements used to form each pop-up were identified, including “box cuts” that can create stairs in their most basic form, “pull tabs,” “flaps” (lifted to reveal hidden images), “rotating volvelles,” (a fancy term for a spinning wheel), and many more. The information collected will be added to the library catalogue so they may be retrieved for instruction sessions in the reading room when art classes visit the library to view examples of paper engineering techniques. Most of the pop-up elements identified involved cuts and creases made in the paper. Jen and Fiona examined each book and wrote the elements found on a preliminary check list that will eventually accompany the books to cataloging. For example, here is a photo of a valley Continue reading The Carol Barton Pop-Up Book Collection