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University of Iowa News Release

May 20, 2005

The Story Of Books On Display In UI Libraries Exhibit

The story of book production and book binding is on display with the opening of the University of Iowa Libraries exhibit "Bookbinding Across Time and Culture" in the North Exhibition Hall of the Main Library that runs through July 31.

Through the exhibit, visitors learn about the structure of books across time and cultures. Though some have been declaring the death of books for years, these bookbinding models point to a prosperous future for the old-fashioned paper book in the digital age. While 26 million enthusiasts have turned to the paper book format to produce family scrapbooks, publishers with "print-on-demand" technologies have created a new readership for scholarly books.

"Today digital storage and retrieval methods are very popular, yet most digital storage is outdated and unreadable within 25 years," says Gary Frost, University Conservator. "On the other hand, a storage technology using carbon ink and papyrus of late antiquity has proven readable for 16 centuries."

The exhibition is presented by the Friends of the UI Libraries in conjunction with the conference "The Changing Book: Transitions in Design, Production and Preservation" that will be held at the UI Libraries July 22-25, and the University of Iowa Museum of Art exhibition "Bill Anthony: Fine Book Binder," on exhibit through July 31.

Bookbinding models exemplify and demonstrate the various mechanisms of books. Unlike real historical bindings, models can be freely manipulated to observe the mobility of the bound structure. Bookbinding models also permit direct visual and tactile inspection of combinations of materials and structures. Bookbinding, as with all crafts, needs serious study and practice. At the UI Center for the Book in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, students receive just such training. The bookbinding model collection at the UI Libraries provides the tools for this study.

Bill Anthony, former conservator of the UI Libraries, was known for his models of historical bindings. He used model-making projects to teach skills of the bookbinding craft. The models produced by Anthony and his apprentices now provide the core of this important teaching resource.

For more information about the UI Libraries Bookbinding Model collection, check online at To learn more about classes and educational opportunities contact the UI Center for the Book ( and the School of Library and Information Science (

For information about "The Changing Book" conference, check online at

The exhibit will be open during regular library hours. Admission is free.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,