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Book Arts & Private Press Collection

Swarthmore College is home to a vibrant and continually growing collection of contemporary artists' books. The collection, with over 6,000 items dating back to 1540, is cataloged and available in Tripod. The Book Arts and Private Press Collection is committed to the acquisition of fine printing and artists' books, and strives to represent all aspects of the physical book including bookbinding, typography, letterpress and offset printing, hand papermaking, illustration, and book design.

Housed in the Rare Book Room in McCabe Library, this collection currently contains examples from nearly 1,000 different presses, from historically significant presses like Kelmscott Press, Doves Press, the Roycrofters, Nonesuch Press, and Golden Cockerel Press, to the works of important contemporary book artists such as Tia Blassingame, Islam Aly, Russell Maret, Maureen Cummins, Xu Bing, and Donald Glaister.

While the Rare Book Room is not open to the public for browsing, you can discover Swarthmore Special Collections in Tripod. Inquire about arrangements to view materials in the Friends Historical Library reading room by contacting McCabe Library Access + User Services.

Black Excellence in the Book Arts

Black Excellence in the Book Arts is an online gallery of artists' books in the Libraries' collection by Black Artists. The gallery is updated as new works are acquired, such as the title pictured here, Freedom, A Fable, by Kara Walker.

view the online exhibit

Book | Object

Book objects are sculptural books that utilize found objects or are created to look like everyday objects. You may see some items from the collection on display in McCabe Library in the vitrines of the Lib Lab on Level One and also in the Cratsley Lounge on Level Two. These items remain on exhibit until October 17, 2021, but the collection may be viewed online anytime.

View the online exhibit

Book Artists and 9/11

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, this online exhibition features artists' books in the Swarthmore College Libraries Book Arts and Private Press Collection that were created in response to the terrorist attacks.

View the Online Exhibit