Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Visit from the Oberlin Heritage Center

It's spring break here at Oberlin, but that doesn't mean we are taking a break from classes.  Our student population has just become a lot shorter in stature. 
On Monday afternoon, the Oberlin Heritage Center brought their Pony Express and Printing Press campers over for a visit in Special Collections and the Letterpress Studio.  The 8 to 12 years old joined us first in the Forsythe Classroom to look at ancient artifacts, both facsimile and real, that explained how communication developed over the millennia.

We then moved on to the Letterpress Studio, where each student had the opportunity to set his or her name by hand and everyone took turns pulling two prints from our Challenge Gordon press.  Campers also learned the values of patience, as printing your name with moveable type takes a whole lot longer than it does with a computer!

It looks like Oberlin has a new generation of printer's devils on our hands!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winter Term 2013

Another productive and instructing Winter Term in letterpress printing was held in January 2013.

Ten students had the opportunity to form a new relationship with paper, typography, design, and the painstaking process of printing using moveable type.

Once again, we employed the services of Bob Keleman, who teaches letterpress printing and graphic design for Kent State University and the Cleveland Institute of Art.

The class also visited the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory in Cleveland and Madison Press in Lakewood.

A new opportunity to make our own wood type using a pantograph machine came with a visit from Scott Moore

Students selected templates and cut their own pieces of wood type to keep.

This year's final project was a collaboration with Oberlin College Press and poet, Mary Ann Samyn, to interpret one of her poems as a broadside.  We also made broadsides for faculty member, Nick Jones, who is translating the poetry of Giovanni Battista Guarina, a 16th century Italian poet.

Sarah Jick

Yvette Chen

Una Creedon-Carey

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Other Features We Love

Some more features of the newly renovated Goodrich Room include additional flat files and a display area for our friends in the Archives.  The cabinets include a slanted work surface for large maps, with bright, task lighting overhead.

The new classroom now has an attractive plaque, honoring former Obie, Margaret Forsythe (Class of 1946).  We have Margaret and her family to thank for this amazing space, complete with its fancy gadgets.  The classroom has already been put to good use and we're only a month into the semester!

The temporary tables in the classroom have been replaced with ones that have adjustable bases.  Now they can be used at a standing, as well as a sitting, height.  This should prove especially helpful when a large class visits Special Collections or Archives.

 The drinking fountain was converted into a sink for hand-washing.  It is conveniently located next to the classroom, so students can access it without disturbing the other patrons who are working in the open reading area.

Patrons have reported that the new furniture and arrangement of the space is much more to their liking.  The new chairs have definitely been a comfortable upgrade!

 To control clutter, improve security, and prevent extra water and contamination from entering the Goodrich Room, lockers and a coat rack have been installed in the corridor outside of the reading space.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Optical Adventure

And the metal for the first class visit to the new facilities goes to...
Sarah Hamill's History of Photography Class!

Sarah's class came to Special Collections on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 to learn about (and play with) some of our optical toys.  Special Collections Librarian, Ed Vermue, has only just begun adding optical toys to our holdings over the past year or two, but we already have quite a collection!  

The class spent half the time listening to a lecture in the new classroom (Sarah also gets the award for being the first faculty member to use our new television and overhead camera) and the other half experiencing the optical toys in a hands-on setting.

Ed gave some background information for each object, along with instructions on how to operate them...

 ... and then it was time to get down to the serious business of playing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Making Good Use of the Display Cases

Our new cases are showing off their first exhibit!
Nineteen manuscript leaves and several codices are on display from now until the Campus Crawl on September 22nd.

The current exhibit has been curated to aid an assignment given in Jen Bryan's Chaucer class. 

Included in this exhibit is our brand new... if 1450 can be considered 'new'...manuscript leaf from a German missal.  It was acquired with a grant from the Breslauer Foundation just this past summer.

Students also worked from our (HUGE) 15th Century Italian Antiphonal (Note how the book has its very own cart to wheel it around!) and a facsimile of the Ellesmere Chaucer.

Have we mentioned how much we love the seating in our new waiting area?
A student takes advantage of our comfy chairs while he catches up on some reading and waits to use the materials.

Remember to stop by and check out the exhibit.  It will be up until the 22nd!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Introducing the New and Improved Goodrich Reading Room!

 After a long summer of tearing down walls, replacing windows, debating chair colors, and rewiring electric, the Goodrich Room is finally complete (and looking better than ever, we might add)!
Tables with electrical outlets, comfortable chairs, new lighting, and a waiting area are just a few of the improvements to the room.
 Archival Assistant, Louisa Hoffman, helps our first patron with a reference question.
 Seating for the new waiting area we lovingly refer to as 'Mad Men chairs'.
We knocked down walls to give you this state-of-the-art classroom, complete with an overhead document camera and a television the size of a drive-in movie screen.

Visit our new facilities between between 1:00 and 4:30, Monday through Friday, and let us know what you think!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Letterpress at Oberlin

For the past two years, students have spent their Winter Term immersed in art of printmaking in the library's own letterpress studio.  Established in 2011, the studio is housed on the second floor of Mudd Center and is the library's latest project to draw on its traditional collection strengths in the history of printing, book arts, and small and fine presses.  Directed and sponsored by Special Collections Librarian, Ed Vermue, the Winter Term sessions have offered intensive, experience-based instruction in the operation of two types of hand-operated pressed, moveable type, and linocuts.

Letterpress printer and graphic designer, Bob Keleman, demonstrates 
how to 'make-ready' on the Vandercook press during the 2011 Winter Term.

The first half of the Winter Term is focused on the basics: the history of printmaking, typography, papermaking,  and, of course, how to properly use the presses and other equipment in the letterpress studio.  Students work independently on short assignments to help hone their skills and allow them to experiment with different process, preparing them for their final projects. 

Each year a new and challenging assignment is presented for a final project.  During Winter Term 2011, students worked as a team to create an edition of 140 pamphlet stitch books for Oberlin alumna and poet, Sarah Green.  

In 2012, students agreed to a theme (materials from an underground printing house after the apocalypse) and then worked independently to create individual items for a shared portfolio.  The result was an edition of 50 evidence folders filled with postcards, text from banned books, newspaper clippings, children's books, missing persons posters, and other various items made to look as if they were confiscated during a police raid.

For those who have worked in the letterpress studio, whether through Winter Term, an Exco, or just a class visit, you probably know there are many, many drawers of type... drawers that have not necessarily been as organized as one would hope.  However, we have great news.  You will be happy to know that this summer 3rd year MJ Robinson spent hours and hours sorting type, organizing drawers, and creating a searchable inventory!  We has also added additional type to our collection of Garamond, making it possible to set longer passages of text.  A new work table and a new supply cabinet have also been moved into the space, giving students more room to work on projects and store clean materials.  It looks like Fall Semester 2012 is off to a good start!

Thank you, MJ, for all of your hard work!