Book Arts


About the Macodrum Library Book Arts Lab
The Book Arts Lab is located on the Main (2nd) Floor of MacOdrum Library (Rooms 234E & 234F). The Lab is the centre of books arts practice on campus, featuring vintage printing presses and type, traditional bookbinding equipment, tools for calligraphy and relief block cutting, paper decorating facilities and workshop space. The Lab is operated by the Research Support Services department, located in Room 238ML.
The book arts:
  • refer to those crafts, trades, philosophies and ideals that relate to the notion of the book.
  • 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 etc. 
  • includes the physical aspects of the book, its structure, purpose, aesthetics and style, 
  • includes 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. 
  • see also discussion of the term “Artists Books” (Yale)
The book arts include, but are not limited to: 
  • calligraphy and mark making
  • bookbinding
  • printing and printmaking
  • paper making and decoration
  • block cutting for illustrations
Synonymous search terms for “Book Arts”:
  • “Print Culture” 
  • “Print Media”
  • “Bibliographical Studies”
  • “Fine Press”
Various skills, trades and professions surround these areas, such as: 
typography  graphic design digital fonts book design
e-book design publishing drawing Product design
Interior design
Graphic design
Ceramics Glass
Jewellery Textiles Furniture Fashion
clothing Illustration Metalsmithing Retail design
Architecture Industrial design Sustainability Advertising
Packaging Theatre Exhibitions Web design
Computer design Computer graphics Animation
Garden design
Landscape architecture
Urban design Education Design management
Inclusive design Universal design Design history  
Researchers should also explore beyond the bounds of the university, exploring the web and the thousands of book artists who continue to practise the ancient trades, often in combination with new or emerging technology 

Class Modules

1. The Writer's Tools

2. Mark Making & Calligraphy


3. The Codex

3. Typography & Setting Type

4. A Brief History of Printing

5. Relief Block Printing - Woodcuts, Wood Engravings

Synonymous search terms for “Book Arts”:
  • “Print Culture” 
  • “Print Media”
  • “Bibliographical Studies”
  • “Fine Press"
  • "Private Press"
  • "Small Press"
  • "Book Materiality"
Periodicals & Journals
Book Arts Centres
The MacOdrum Library has a growing collection of print resources related to the Book Arts. 
In the stacks, book arts related material can be found in Subclass Z, located on Floor 1 of the Library.
  • Z4-115.5 Books (General)
  • Z116-659 Book industries and trade
  • Z662-1000.5 Libraries
  • Z1001-1121 General bibliography
  • Z1201-4980 National bibliography
  • Z5051-7999 Subject bibliography
  • Z8001-8999 Personal bibliography
Academic Journal Indices
Book arts and bibliographical studies have concentrations, but are also scattered throughout broader subject categories. Keep this in mind while searching, and be aware that different fields may use different key words and subject words to describe their articles. 
Primary Sources

Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections (ASC), located on the 5th Floor, possess examples of:

  • rare and old books
  • incunabula (sheets and books printed between 1450-1500 CE)
  • early writing and script from the middle ages
  • writing and printing on vellum
  • bookbinding from 1400-present, incl. leather, vellum and paper wraps, wooden board covers etc. 
  • fine bindings
  • miniature books 1600 to present
  • broadsides and posters, especially 20th century
  • The Special Collection of Modern Poetry consists of poetry written chiefly in the English language since 1940 and published by small and private presses.
The staff in Archives & Special Collections (ASC) will be pleased to assist you with any queries you may have regarding rare and old books and papers. Go to the ASC Contacts page for more information. 



Content last reviewed: May 13, 2020