The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Bridwell’s book bout

Beginning last month and continuing through the end of April, the Bridwell Library in the Perkins School of Theology is presenting “Six Centuries of Master Bookbinding.” The exhibition is an introduction to the art form of bookbinding, its dynamic history and its important place in the future.

Bridwell Library special collections curator Eric White had the idea for this exhibition last April, planning for the year’s events.

“The library has collected great books for its 50 years of existence and has decided to put them on display,” said White. “We knew we had a very strong collection [of books] and wanted to someday highlight them.”

All of the books on exhibition are property of the library and are “outstanding examples of different art forms from over the centuries,” said White.

White explained that in the Middle Ages, bookbindings were functional and decorative, and unlike the bindings on books today, did not show the content of the literature inside. Bindings were made out of wood and leather and decorated with expensive jewels and stamped with unique designs.

Private libraries became popular in the 16th century and wealthy book owners wanted their copies to be decorated in unique ways with their family coat of arms, for example. This trend continued in to the 19th and 20th centuries when book owners would commission artists to design fancy covers for their particular copy of a book.

As books become more digitized, White believes that the desire for a physical book will become greater, similarly to people collecting record albums for the artistic cover design, as opposed to the non-existent cover design of digital music.

“People like to own books and have them in their hands. I think the more we digitize books, the more people will want them,” said White.

Since the exhibition opened, about 700 people have been through, both students and the general public alike. White says that many people will visit the library after taking a trip to the Meadows Museum.

The collection of artful bookbindings at Bridwell Library is one of very few of its kind in the area. Other museums in New York and Washington D.C. have book collections.

The exhibition has been written up in German publications for “bookbinding enthusiasts” says White, as it is an older tradition in that country. There has also been some attention for the exhibit from England.

And while there are many books with artful bindings in the library, the ones on display are just some highlights of the complete collection.

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