Preservation Week 2017

Preservation Week is here again! This weeklong celebration of preservation and conservation activities in libraries, archives, and museums is the brainchild of ALCTS, the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, a branch of the American  Library Association. Later this week we’ll be sharing two guest blog posts on the preservation and conservation concerns of two common kinds of bindings: case binding and library binding. 

While conservation and preservation are words used somewhat interchangeably in everyday conversation, in the library world they have specific, but intertwining, meanings. Preservation refers to the steps taken to slow the deterioration of materials. These steps include environmental controls provided by an HVAC system, housing items in neutral-pH folders and boxes, and reducing exposure to light whenever possible. Conservation refers to the steps taken once an item has been damaged and needs repair, cleaning, or restoration. If you’ve been following our Instagram feed, you may have noticed some photographs of metal artifacts at various points in the cleaning process. This is a conservation project we’re currently tackling. 

If you have questions about preservation, conservation, or Preservation Week, don’t hesitate to contact us here at the museum. There are also lots of great free resources at the Preservation Week website

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

SF in SF with Kim Stanley Robinson and Cecelia Holland

On Sunday, January 22, please join us for an evening with authors Kim Stanley Robinson and Cecilia Holland reading and in conversation with Terry Bisson. 

Kim Stanley Robinson has published nineteen novels and numerous short stories but is best known for his Mars trilogy. His work has been translated into 24 languages. Many of his novels and stories have ecological, cultural and political themes running through them and feature scientists as heroes. Robinson has won numerous awards, including the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the World Fantasy Award. Robinson’s work has been labeled by The Atlantic as “the gold-standard of realistic, and highly literary, science-fiction writing.” According to an article in the New Yorker, Robinson is “generally acknowledged as one of the greatest living science-fiction writers.”

Cecelia Holland is a grande dame of historical fiction who began writing at age twelve. Her first published work, The Firedrake, arrived in 1966, and since then she has written extensively in historical fiction, modern and speculative fiction, short stories, children’s fiction, and speculative and factual nonfiction. One critic wrote, “What sets Cecelia’s work apart in the genre is not just her productivity but also her versatility; she has the unique ability to make most any historical period her own.”

Doors and cash bar open at 5:30 – Program begins at 6:30. 

$10 donation at the door (no one is turned away for lack of funds). As always Borderlands Books will be on hand with copies of the authors’ work.

We hope to see you here.

Holiday Shopping at the ABM Bookstore: Some Recommendations

Having a hard time finding a gift for the book lover in your life? Why not do some of your holiday shopping in our bookstore? After all, we’re offering 10% off all bookstore purchases on the two remaining pre-Christmas Saturdays! Here are some recommendations from ABM staff members.

Madeleine says: My daughter is planning on traveling this spring, and asked for a nice journal for Christmas. Clearly she came to the right parent: In the ABM bookstore we have a number of lined blank books with facsimile covers of early, famous bindings, and others that mimic the style of bindings from a variety of times and places. But which to choose? I looked through them all — 19th century and 15th century, Middle Eastern, French and British. Finally I went with my gut.

I am partial to the Midsafaviddle Eastern designs, and settled, after an extensive and deeply conflicted survey of the ABM’s bookstore stock, on Paperblanks’ Safavid Ultra, a nice-sized journal with a wrap-around magnetic cover and really gorgeous detail. With what I have learned about embossing and gilding books since coming to the ABM, I am astonished by the skill, patience, and steady hands it would have taken to create such an object. Add in the lacquer-work which gives the cover its jewel-like color, and it’s rather heart-stopping.

When you’re sending a beloved child off to have adventures, it’s nice to give them a talisman of sorts. May she rejoice in its beauty, and fill it full.

safavid-book-cover-2Lest you think that this journal owes all its charm to modern mechanical techniques, here’s a Savafid-era book cover, which would have been created entirely by hand. The sheer volume of detail is amazing.




Madeleine says: “It was a pleasure to burn.”

Not only is that a brilliant opening line, but to anyone who loves books, it is a genuinely chilling one. The bookstore at the American Bookbinders Museum has a lot of fascinating non-fiction works about the technique and history of binding and related trades, and about books themselves. Fahrenheit 451, a work of fiction, is one that talks about what books are for: mementos of people gone before, vehicles for carrying wisdom from one time to the next, from one place to another. In Ray Bradbury’s bleak future, books are burned when they are discovered, lest the information, the stories, the heart they contain, awaken a populace with a short attention span and a willingness to be controlled. It’s a beautifully written book, curiously timeless and yet timely. If you haven’t read it, or haven’t read it in years, may I recommend Fahrenheit 451?

Elspeth says: I loved my history of the book classes in grad school, and still can’t get enough of the topic. I’m currently reading one of the books from our store called The Book: A Global History. While I loved history of the book classes, they were almost invariably Western-focused, and this book is truly global. It’s a dense and fascinating read that explains everything from the development of written language to the impact of the digital book. A fantastic choice for the cultural history nerd in your circle.

Stephanie says: One of our fabulous volunteers, Velia Villa, made Johannes Gutenberg magnets! Makes a great stocking stuffer.


Summer at ABM

This has been a bustling summer for the American Bookbinders Museum. In addition to daily tours, and events such as the Yerba Buena Alliance’s Third Thursdays, this summer we’re hosting the Cartoon Art Museum’s Summer Bootcamp. The Bootcamp offers four 1-week classes for tweens and teens on various cartooning subjects: character creation, storytelling, zine creation, and board-game creation. It’s been energizing to watch the hard work and progress these students make over their one-week stay with us.  


How to Use the ABM Library

The ABM Library and Archives are up and running! Not everything has been

A colorful portion of our collection.

A colorful portion of our collection.

cataloged yet – more is added to our catalog every week – but with over 3,000 items in the library catalog and close to 18 linear feet of archival documents and photographs organized, it seems like time and past to publicly declare the materials available for use.

This is a remarkable collection, and I enjoy every moment I spend exploring, cataloging, and arranging. I’m learning a great deal. The primary resource I’m using for cataloging is OCLC WorldCat, which is an online catalog gathering the collections of over 72,000 participating libraries in more than 170 countries and territories. WorldCat is a fantastic resource for anyone doing research, because when you search for an item, it offers you two important details: which library holds which edition of the publication, and where they are in relation to your location.


The Bookbinders Directory is Live

A.L. Bancroft 2The Bookbinders Museum is delighted to announce that our Directory of Bookbinders is now available on our website. To access it via the website, go to the Collections page, scroll down to “Bookbinders Directory”, and click on View. Scroll down to find links to the directory, organized by Name, by City, and by State. We hope this will be a valuable tool for researchers and historians.

To avoid suggestions of favoritism we do not list contemporary bookbinders, but will publish biographies of deceased bookbinders if submitted by family members.


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!


Women in Bookbinding

woman-bookbinderOpening Today: The Woman Bookbinder looks at women in both trade and artisanal bookbinderies through the lens of material from the museum’s own collection of books and ephemera. Curated by ABM Librarian Elspeth Olson, the exhibition runs through May.

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