Handmade books petting zoo showcased in Wells Library


Bloomington community member Mary Uthuppuru reads the book "The Natural History Museum #2" on Feb. 18 at Hazelbaker Hall in Wells Library. “I’m actually an artist bookmaker also, so I like to see everybody’s work,” Uthuppuru said. Karen Cheng

IU Libraries displayed a variety of handcrafted books 11 a.m. Tuesday at Hazelbaker Lecture Hall in Herman B Wells Library.

The library displays its collections of handcrafted books about three times a year. Guests come and look at and touch delicate, durable, large, small and intricate books which were displayed on rows.

The Handmade Books Petting Zoo included an online poll in which visitors could text to vote on which books they liked best. The IU library will purchase the book with the highest score, said Sarah Carter, Arts, Architecture and Design librarian.

“Our main goal is to figure out which artist book we are going to buy for today,” Carter said. “But we also want to give our community time to look at different types of books and get inspired.”

Carter said she’s looking for books with interesting content, layout and design because that is what interests students. She said students are typically interested in books that are made of mylar or plexiglass, which is a transparent material that’s difficult to engrave or print on. 

“I think the effect is stunning,” Carter said.

The event also featured some of the 2,500 artists’ books from Wells Library that are normally only available by request through IU’s online library catalog. 

“It is a special collection, and special collections don’t sit on the shelves for people to browse,” Carter said. She said the reason they don’t open it to the public is because natural oils on hands could potentially stain the books.

Sophomore Emily Kleman came across the event when she was about to read a book for her sociology class. She took a drawing class and said it’s interesting when artists draw their own content for books.

“I think it’s so creative to actually illustrate your own book,” Kleman said.

Jennifer Witzke, a book designer for IU Press, came to the event because she was working near the library. Witzke said she likes books that are colorful and she thinks nontraditional printing techniques because she finds it inspiring. 

“It’s just interesting for me to see the different kinds of designs that books can have,” Witzke said.

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