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Color Our Collections 2017

It’s that time again! It’s Color Our Collections week, a project hosted by the New York Academy of Medicine, in which museums, libraries, and archives around the world create coloring pages inspired by items in their collections. Officially it runs February 6-10, 2017, but really, you can print our pages and share them whenever you want. We’ll be happy to see your creative work!

This year we’re sharing most of the pages we made last year, and adding in some new ones. Feel free to print them, share them with your kids and your friends, and color them in however you want – all we ask is that you share a picture with us on social media. Tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and share your pictures with the hashtag #ColorOurCollections!

Find our coloring pages here: bookbindersmuseum_coloringpages2017

February is Book Fair Month

Two major events in the Bay Area this month for book lovers and book artists.

Codex 2017 is part of the 6th Bienniel International Book Fair and Symposium at the Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbor Way South, in Richmond. The Book Fair is open to the public, and runs Sunday, February 5 through Wednesday, February 8. Multi-day tickets are $30; Single-day tickets are $10; Student tickets (with ID) are $5. The Codex Book Fair brings the “Best of the Best book artists and fine press printers from around the world to share their work, explore new and old concepts, and to start an on-going conversation about the fate and future of the book as an essential art form.”

The 50th California International Antiquarian Book Fair will be at the Oakland Marriott City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland, from Friday, February 10 through Sunday, February 12. The Fair allows attendees an incredible opportunity to browse and buy books from nearly 200 booksellers from around the world.

In addition to booksellers, the Antiquarian Book Fair features special exhibits, seminars, and presentations, all of which are free to the public with a paid admission. Look for a special group of “book arts” related exhibitors–including The American Bookbinders Museum, displaying binding, letterpress printing, calligraphy, and ephemera. Tickets are $23 for a three-day pass and $13 for a Saturday-Sunday pass; with Student ID a three-day pass is $20, and Saturday-Sunday is $10.

 

 

 

 

 

Floods and Disasters: 1966 and 2016

Fifty years ago last night, the Arno River in Florence burst its banks and flooded the city, reaching depths of 18-22 feet. Water raged through the streets at some 30-40 miles per hour, tumbling cars and even newsstands as easily as if they were children’s toys. Shops on the famous bridges of the Arno looked as though they had been hit by bombs. Basement furnaces leaked and exploded, and the pressure of the water blew out the sewers. When the waters receded after a few days, the city was covered in a thick, foul slime of mud, sewage, oil, and waterlogged detritus. 

Our exhibit, BOOKS AND MUD: THE DROWNED LIBRARIES OF FLORENCE looks at the damage and recovery effort in a single library in Florence, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, in which nearly 100,000 precious early modern volumes were left waterlogged and mud-caked. It has been up for two weeks, and many of the visitors who have come to see it have some memory to share of the 1966 flood. Some remember hearing about it and wishing they had gone to help, while others tell us a bit about being on the scene. 

The technical achievement of the restoration workers is, of course, vitally important and interesting to study. The methods the skilled men and women who saved the books developed informs much of the way water-damaged books are managed even today. 

That said, the part of the story that seems to lie at the heart of everyone’s memory of the Florence flood of 1966 is the part where thousands of young people came from all over Italy, Europe, and many parts of the world to volunteer their time and labor as angeli del tango: mud angels. They formed lines to the basements of museums, libraries, and palaces, passing books, artwork, and other treasures one at a time to the fresh air and the hands of the professional restorers. They took shovels and buckets and dug mud out of stores, homes, and streets. 

The raw film footage and photographs of these mud angels, most of whom remain unidentified in these visual records, is moving and heartwarming. It is beautiful to see the way they move through the streets, filthy and tired, doing what they can to restore the everyday life and priceless treasures of Florence. In the well-worn phrase, it gives one faith in humanity.

As I write this, Italy is once again dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters. In the past few months, nearly 250 medium-strength or greater earthquakes have rocked the country. Nearly 300 people died as a result of the August 24 earthquake around the town of Amatrice. The town of Arquata del Tronto has been more or less destroyed. Those wishing to aid the relief efforts can donate here. The Italian Cultural Institute here in San Francisco is also offering the chance to donate via an artist’s exhibit and auction. The auction will take place at the Institute on December 8, 2016, from 6-9pm. 

We have also kept track of floods in 2016 as part of the exhibit, or at least, as many floods as we’ve been able to track down. We have a world map on display with color-coded pins indicating flood frequency and severity, and it is updated daily. 

Recent major flooding in the United States has of course caught our attention. West Virginia, Louisiana, and the Carolinas have been particularly affected recently, and all have put out appeals for help in rebuilding the public library collections and those of the public schools. Baton Rouge school librarian Trey Veazey’s blog post on the subject spread around social media, but aid is needed all over the affected areas. Most have lost most or all of their collections, and rebuilding is expensive and necessary. Veazey writes:

We are relocating. We’ve been ushered over to a building that was built in 1937. That means my new school is the same age as And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street. It also means that, in my first year as a librarian, I have a library without any books. 

Access to books is the key to educational success. Our library doesn’t have books. Our classrooms don’t have books. Many of the homes of our students don’t have books. Like the tears that rolled down our faces both in silent & violent measures, they became a part of the flood before being swept away as we looked toward rebuilding & recovery.

Most of us can’t go dig these places out of the mud and sweep away the flood waters, but other ways you can help may be found here:

Rebuilding School & Classroom Libraries in Louisiana

Flood-damaged West Virginia Libraries seeking help to rebuild

West Virginia Libraries Pick Up the Pieces

Book collection underway for libraries destroyed by Hurricane Matthew flooding

Floods in 2016

Floods in 2016

American Publishers’ Bindings at the Rare Book School

I was looking for someone, and I had been here before.

Staring down the long aisle, I blinked hard, and looked at the slip of paper in my hand. A bunch of letters and numbers, written in pencil. A call number. I squinted at my own jagged vertical printing. “Is that an S, or a 5?” I thought. Was this even going to work? Last time, I came up empty. What was I doing?

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Happy Hour at the Bookbinders Museum

HappyHour It’s the Thursday evening before Memorial Day weekend. Maybe you’ve got plans, maybe you’re looking to start the weekend a little early. Or maybe you’d like to unwind after a busy day and do something a little off the beaten path. We have you covered.

The first ABM Happy Hour is on Thursday, May 26, from 5:30 – 7pm. Come take a convivial tour of our amazing exhibit of working 19th century bindery equipment, enjoy an adult beverage, and wind down from the work day.The price is $15 and covers refreshments and admission. Fun and good company included.

We hope to see you on Thursday!

Eventbrite - ABM Happy Hour Tour

Welcoming SF MOMA Back to the Hood

2LCxXDLkyImAOn Saturday, May 14, the American Bookbinders Museum is joining with all our SOMA/Yerba Buena neighbors to celebrate the grand-reopening of SF MOMA. A whole day of activities are planned, from dawn to dusk (well, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) including free entry at neighboring museums.

Have timed-entry tickets for MOMA and an hour to kill? Didn’t get tickets, but want to be part of the celebration? There will be music, and performances, and various programs and events at museums in the neighborhood. The ABM will be open all day. Come say hello, take a tour, and help SOMA celebrate!

 

Join Us for Third Thursday at the Bookbinders Museum

3rdThursdayMarchOn March 17 between 5:30 – 8pm, the Bookbinders Museum will be open late for Third Thursday, honoring St. Patrick’s Day, Women’s History Month, and our new exhibit on Women Bookbinders. Come take a tour, cruise the bookstore, or check out a selection of material from the Museum’s collection about women in binderies.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out what the Bookbinders Museum has to offer, here’s your chance. We look forward to seeing you!

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