Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Minsky Collection in PBO! From the real to the virtual!

It is a distinct pleasure and honor to announce that the Richard Minsky Collection of 19th and early 20th century publishers' bindings have been added to Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books. This incredible group of books was acquired by The UA Libraries in 2007 and is part of the Hoole Library's collections.

One way to access the corpus of Minsky books in PBO, simply go to

and keyword search "minsky".

This will give you a glimpse at all 560 books included in the project -- browse through the pages, click on what you like, and change the view to experience larger images. From there, you can click on any of the hyperlinked terms and explore, for example, in the book above (pba02679), there is a hyperlinked subject heading that will bring you to all of the examples of togas in PBO -- clothing/Accessories--Togas Or hearts -- there are eighty-six examples of hearts used as decorative elements in PBO! And give yourself some time -- it's a great site to explore and experience incredible imagery and design.

This addition, along with 200 new books included from the University of Wisconsin-Madison will bring the total number of books to 5286 in the PBO project, and well over 10,000 images.

About Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books:

In September 2003, The University of Alabama, University Libraries, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries, received an IMLS National Leadership grant to create the digital resource, Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books (PBO).

All academic libraries have within their holdings books bound in 19th century decorative bindings. These materials are significant in their place within the fabric of American history and culture, but efforts to present these bindings in a collection that is representative of the era as a whole and to make them available virtually, via the World Wide Web have been limited.

Over the past five years, PBO has developed into a significant searchable digital collection of decorative book bindings, along with an enormous body of value-added resources including a comprehensive glossary, galleries, bibliography and webliography, lesson plans and teaching tools, and so much more. It has strengthened the growing interest in and created a broader awareness of this “common” object called the book. And it has done it in so many ways!

Publishers' bindings cover many of the books that people have in their homes today, but their owners are often unaware of their cultural and historical significance. These bindings reflect not only social and cultural history, but bibliographic history as well. PBO informs users about the importance of publishers' bindings as reflections of historical events, artistic styles and movements, 19th and early 20th century literature and writing, and the evolution of commercial binderies, and the 19th century book trade and other areas of research and scholarship. It also expands awareness of the book as artifact and of the role decorative bindings play in providing a window into historical, cultural, and industrial period of 1815-1930.

The project allows students, teachers, book artists, binders, and scholars in many different areas the opportunity to study these decorative bindings from two (and soon to be three - LSU is contributing one hundred Louisiana-centric titles to the project and will be added this spring) different physical collections in a single, virtual location. We are also looking at building beyond this scope and into the future. Those interested in PBO are encouraged to contact Jessica Lacher-Feldman, PBO project manager.

The project serves a model for collaborative digital projects, and offers education and inspiration to repositories and individuals. PBO greatly broadens a relatively unexplored scholarly field, and provides a venue for scholars of this field to further their interest and contribution. This resource will encourage interested parties to look at their own collections, and to gain an understanding of design movements and trends both within the United States as well as abroad, comparable to Jugendstil in Germany, Art Nouveau in France, Arts and Crafts in England, and Glasgow School in Scotland.

The additional resources and scholarship in PBO project serves a myriad of users and continues to grow. The Minsky Collection's inclusion in PBO is a perfect example of collaboration and scholarship working together in new ways to serve a broad audience.

A toast to PBO and the Minsky Collection! The books themselves are an incredible asset to the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, and they are doing amazing double duty as part of the innovative and incredibly cool, Publishers' Bindings Online project! They are also the subject and object of Richard Minsky's incredibly beautiful book, American Decorated Publishers' Bindings 1872-1929.

Richard Minsky and Jessica Lacher-Feldman will also be part of a symposium on the history, technology and conservation of nineteenth-century publishers' bindings, sponsored by the Guild of Book Workers, New York Chapter at the Grolier Club in New York on February 22, 2008. It will be held in conjunction with the Grolier Club exhibition, The Proper Decoration of Book Covers: The Life and Work of Alice C. Morse From the collection of Mindell Dubansky.

This is all very, very cool -- @ hoole and on the web too!


maggie moran said...

This is very nice! Congrats on the blog and cool format. :D

Kristy Dixon said...

AWESOME! It looks fantastic. I will forever love Crisp Toasts!