New Exhibit – Artist Books: A Book In Any Other Form Would Still Be Read

There’s a new exhibit on display in the Special Collections reading room in Hornbake Library and we’d be excited for you to come check it out!

Our new exhibit titled Artist Books: A Book in Any Other Form Would still be Read, highlights wonderfully unique examples of artists’ books from the Literature and Rare Books collections in Special Collections and University Archives.

Artists’ Books are unique creations that challenge what we typically think of as a book. Usually produced in limited runs or as one of a kind creations, these books straddle the line between traditional codex and works of art. Artists’ books can be more tactile in nature, experimenting with fabric, paper, binding structure, printing technique, and typography. Their use of materials and creative expression make a profound impact on the experience of “reading,” often requiring the books to be touched and moved to experience their full artistic impact.

The book as an art object is a product of the 20th century, taking inspiration from earlier movements such as Dada, Constructivism, and Futurism. The topics covered vary widely, spanning alphabet books, activism, reinterpretation of literary works, and personal expression. The experimental form and timely subject matter adds important perspectives that can be absent from traditional forms of literature.

There are no set characteristics to define an artists book. In our collection, we broadly consider an artists’ book to be any piece that isn’t mass produced and where the book is the art medium. This can include book sculptures, pop-up books, puzzles, cards, letterpress objects, and more.

Some of the books featured in the exhibit include a partially constructed tower from artist Werner Pfeiffer’s book Out of the Sky, which is a tribute to the victims of 9/11. There are also several books from Abstract Orange Press, a local press run by Lauren Emeritz which produces letterpress prints and artist books. Some of her books include the bright and colorful Corita Rules! and a green paper sculpture interpretations for Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. You’ll also be able to see several alphabet books which find new and interesting ways to display letter.

To explore this exhibit, visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library.  Contact us to learn more about Special Collections and University Archives at UMD!


Mattie Lewis is a student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program and Graduate Assistant with the Katherine Anne Porter Collection at UMD.

Victoria Vera is a student in the Master of Library and Information Science program at UMD and a graduate student assistant in Literature and Rare Books Collections, Special Collections and University Archives.

Items on display in the exhibit include:

Hand Carved Alphabet designed and printed by Lauren Emeritz, 2016. Hand Carved Alphabet mini-book Designed and printed by Lauren Emertiz, 2016. Hand Carved Numbers mini-book Designed and printed by Lauren Emerita, 2017. Leaves of Grass By Walt Whitman, designed and printed by Lauren Emeritz, 2019. Declaration of Human Rights Designed and printed by Lauren Emeritz, 2020. Corita Rules! designed and printed by Lauren Emertiz, 2022. Alphabeticum By Werner Pfeiffer, 2006. Out of the Sky By Werner Pfeiffer, 2006. The Twelve Alphabet: 27 letterforms from twelve point type & ornament By Jennifer Farrell, 2021. The Spectrum A to Z By Karen Hanmer, 2003. A to Z: Marvels in Paper Engineering, 2018. You Don’t Say By Alfred L. Copley, 1962. Help From Heaven By Seymour Adelman, 1984. Peter Piper’s Practical Principles of Plain & Perfect Pronunciation, 1936. Typewriter Birds By William Jay Smith, 1954. Agathons Book of Dreams By Emil Goozaiow, 2020. Momento Mori By Susan Lowdermilk, 2004. Lotus Harbour By Carolyn Shattuck & Victoria Crain, n.d.

New Resource: LibGuide on Fine Press Books in Special Collections

Special Collections is highlighting the selection of Fine Press books within the Literature and Rare Books collections with a new subject guide, Fine Press Books in Special Collections! If you would like to learn more about fine press books but aren’t sure where to start, we have a solution. The guide highlights material created by various Fine Presses that are available in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library.

Beginning in the late 19th century, artists, authors, and craftsmen of the Fine Press movement took care and consideration in the elements of a book. Attention was given to the typography, design, illustration, printing and binding of fine press books. The Fine Press movement produced beautifully crafted books, often in small print-runs of high quality, designed and crafted by individuals or small businesses.

For more resources on Fine Press Books search our catalog or if you have any questions, please contact us!

Victoria Vera is a graduate student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program at UMD and a student assistant in the Literature and Rare Books Collections, Special Collections and University Archives.