Purpose: to enhance the teaching and learning experience of students from all disciplines by introducing them to the book arts and sciences in a practical, “hand-on” manner.The MacOdrum Library Book Arts Lab is a dedicated experiential learning space located in the heart of Carleton University’s main library. The book arts include bookbinding, letterpress printing, calligraphy, paper making and paper decorating, wood cut relief printing, ink making, quill cutting and more.

Goal: to allow students to reflect on these antique book building processes, and to spark synthesis illuminating new approaches to contemporary issues and intellectual inquiry.

Accessibility: Everyone is welcome in the Book Arts Lab! Our goal is always to make the space as accessible as possible, so that all folks can explore the rich and varied world of Book Arts. Some activities may require accommodations or adaptations to meet individual needs. If you have concerns about barriers or limitations, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Master Printer or your professor so we can work together to support your participation in Lab activities.

What are the Books Arts?

The Book Arts refer to those crafts, trades, philosophies and ideals that relate to the notion of the book. They span the depth and breadth of human civilization and therefore research in the subject touches on most fields, including art, history, art history, literature, the sciences, engineering, architecture, industrial design, library sciences and more.

Book Arts include the physical aspects of the book, its structure, purpose, aesthetics and style, the appearance and message of the text itself, with an emphasis on how all elements of the book create an intellectual and holistic picture of a book’s meaning.

Explore the Book Arts in our Archives and Special Collections!

The Books Arts Lab space and equipment

Tour the Book Arts Lab

Contact the Master Printer to schedule a tour of the Lab.

The Book Arts Lab (234E & 234F) is restricted to 20 persons per room.

Join Our Mailing List!

CLICK HERE to sign up for periodic updates on news, course information, events and happenings in the Lab.

Credit Courses Featuring the Book Arts

ENGL 2910 [0.5 credit]
Book Arts Workshop - This experiential learning course immerses students in the practical arts and histories of book production.

ENGL 5120 [0.5 credit]
Book Arts Workshop - This course immerses graduate students in the practical arts and histories of book production. At least part of the course will take place in the Book Arts Lab in MacOdrum Library, where students will acquire skills in printing, bibliography, and/or bookmaking.

ENGL 4135 [0.5 credit]
Studies in Publishing - Topics will vary from year to year.

Catalogue of Book Arts Modules

with descriptions for course building (PDF):




BAL101: Safety in the Book Arts Lab

0.5 HRS

BAL102: LAB Tour

1 HR

BAL103: What are Book Arts?

1.5 HRS



Block Cutting

Mark Making

Paper Decorating

BB101: Intro to Bookbinding

LP101: Intro to Letterpress

BC101: Intro to Block Cutting

CM101: Intro to Calligraphy

PM101: Intro to Paper

BB102: Tools and Materials

LP102: Setting Type by Hand

BC102: Tools & Materials

CM102: Ancient Marks

PM102: Paste Paper

BB103: Historical Styles

LP103: Components of the Forme

BC103: Linocutting

CM103: Tools and Nibs

PM103: Marbled Paper

BB104: Contemporary Styles

LP104: Letterpress Printing Basics

BC104: Wood Cutting

CM104: Exercises - The Power of Practice

PM104: Paper Making

BB105: Experimental Bindings

LP105: Working with Woodtype

BC105: Wood Engraving


Bookbinding Letterpress Block Cutting Calligraphy/ Mark Making Papermaking/ Paper Decorating
PM201: Longstitch

LP201: Typesetting, justified text, and other challenges

BC201: Cutting and printing an illustration in relief

CM201: Fonts vs Hands: Calligraphic Typography

PM201: Pulp Fictions: Paper foundations

PM202: Multi-section structure w/o glue

LP202: Typesetting, ornaments, and borders

BC202: Traditional wood cutting

CM202: Chinese brush

PM202: Mixing Oil & Water: Making Marbled Paper

PM203: Coptic Binding

LP203: Press Make-ready

BC203: Carving period ornamentation

CM203: Creating tools for mark making

PM203: Mixing Paste & Colour: Making Paste Paper

PM204: Cased in Library binding

LP204: Letterpress & Typography Basics

BC204: Carving type & script

PM205: Accordion Book


1. The Writer's Tools

2. Mark Making & Calligraphy

3. The Codex

4. Typography & Setting Type

5. A Brief History of Printing

6. Relief Block Printing - Woodcuts, Wood Engravings

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