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November 2, 1998

Exhibit and lecture series offer behind-the-scenes view at the library

By Barbara McKenna

If they could speak, the books we check out of the library would have some tales to tell, each scratch and pencil mark and bent page a story in itself. Another story lies in the making of the book itself--an elaborate and often highly demanding artistic process. The various histories of the book are part of the inspiration behind a new exhibit taking place at McHenry Library through December 18.

The exhibit,"Explore Our Collections: Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?," focuses on historic and contemporary bookmaking techniques and current preservation practices, highlighting early printing methods, papermaking, and book decoration. The exhibit also examines how material damage occurs through natural and human causes, and how repair and binding are done in the library.

Many special formats are displayed, such as accordion folded, pop-up, and carousel books, 16th-century manuscripts, a cuneiform tablet, and miniature books.

An accompanying exhibit, "Paper Chase: The Race to Save the Book," is featured at the Science Library.

A series of talks and demonstrations on bookmaking and preservation will be presented by library staffmembers and local printers and bookmakers at McHenry Library from November 5 through 18 (see schedule).

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, call (831) 459-4000 or visit the library's exhibition Web site.

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