RBMS 2020
Attending this event?
RBMS thanks Jonathan A Hill, Bookseller for sponsoring this Sched.
Thursday, June 25 • 8:30am - 10:00am
Extending the Library into DWNTWN: University Libraries and Book Arts Collaborative

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule and see who's attending!

This presentation addresses community engagement through the history of the book and printing. It represents a collaboration between University faculty, librarians, community business people, and students from all academic programs on a medium-sized campus in a small mid-western city. We engage the public through retail products, community workshops, and free community programming. We encourage everyone to look at books and their production as an enduring local practice. We encourage other libraries to explore this unique and effective way of engaging the public in thinking, talking about, and making books.

Book Arts Collaborative is a community letterpress and hand-sewn book bindery located in the Madjax Maker Force in downtown Muncie. Our mission is to teach these apprentice-taught skills and share them with the community. We accomplish that by offering Ball State University classes in book arts, community workshops, school field trips, and printing services for area not-for-profit organizations. Additionally, we are a student-managed business, consigning handmade books and print ephemera through multiple retailers in Central Indiana. We publish a hand-printed and bound artist’s book by a Hoosier author each year and host an annual, regional gathering of book artists and printers called Interrobang Wayzgoose.

Book Arts Collaborative is staffed through shared responsibility of Ball State’s Department of English and University Libraries. Because our work draws upon history of the book, history of printing, book conservation and construction, and letterpress printing on a wide variety of historic presses, its subject matter draws upon the academic and vocational expertise of our three faculty members: Rai Peterson, Associate Professor of English; James Bradley, Head of Metadata and Digital Initiatives; and James Shimkus, Information Services Librarian. Our professional expertise is augmented by the owner/operator of our Community Partner Business: Tribune Showprint Posters, Inc. Tribune is the oldest continually operated letterpress printing business in America and home to one of the ten largest collections of historic wood type and printer’s cuts and ornaments in the country.

Ball State University does not offer degree programs in Library Science, but through engagement at Book Arts Collaborative, our library colleagues have the opportunity to teach college students and the public about the history of the book, the history of print, the elements of the book, and to assist with hands-on experimentation regarding the creation and repair of books. Additionally, they assist students in researching various methods of book construction and printing techniques, and they employ and teach the systems they use as librarians to help streamline inventory, shipping, and logistics processes in our student-managed business.

All three presenters bring a wide perspective to the development of Book Arts Collaborative and the many different community and university partners involved. Mr. Bradley’s undergraduate background is in studio art painting; Mr. Shimkus’ is in history; and Dr. Peterson’s academic degrees are in literature. Our different backgrounds impact the way we approach the subjects inherent in book arts, and we will explore the ways in which we came together to teach the material culture surrounding books. We will discuss how the program started, evolved, and how it continues to benefit both the surrounding community and students at Ball State while bringing visibility to the Department of English and University Libraries. We’ll offer suggestions for how our program may be replicated through collaboration between public or university libraries and academic units on campuses or in high schools.


Rai Peterson

Associate Professor of English, Ball State University


James Bradley

Head of Metadata and Digital Initiatives, Ball State University
Jim Bradley, head of the metadata and digitization operations at University Libraries since 2004, is responsible for overseeing development of metadata and publishing of digital culture heritage and other assets in the Digital Media Repository (CONTENTdm.)

James Shimkus

Information Services Librarian, Ball State University

Thursday June 25, 2020 8:30am - 10:00am
Feedback form isn't open yet.