Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 17, and ending on Thursday, March 30, “The Magic of Miniature Books” exhibition will be visiting UCR in the Tomas Rivera library with about 30 miniature books on display. The exhibition is made up of two components. On the first floor of the library, the books come from the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) section of the Rivera Library. The second component is held on the fourth floor, which contains the traveling portion of the exhibit and is being hosted on behalf of the Miniature Book Society (MBS).
“The exhibitions are a way to introduce visitors to the genre of miniature books, the Miniature Book Society, as well as to encourage visitors to explore other exhibits the Special Collections Department will hold in the future,” explained Cherry Williams, the director of distinctive collections at UCR Library, in an interview with The Highlander.
Throughout history, miniature books have risen in popularity. By the 19th and 20th centuries, books of almost every genre were being made into miniature versions, ranging from works of fiction, dictionaries, almanacs and prayer books. Williams remarked that miniature books are made in response to the needs and culture of the society. Back when certain societies did not allow their citizens to read and write, miniature books served their purpose in teaching those skills, meanwhile with their size, they were easily concealable. Today, they serve as a medium of artistic expression for artists whose works of art use the format of the book.
By visiting the exhibit, UCR students can gaze upon miniature versions of books including Thomas Moore’s, “Utopia,” a copy of “The Lord’s Prayer” and other books such as “Jack be Nimble and Other Rhymes.” These miniatures measure between 2 to 3 inches in size.
“Many of the works on display are printed on handmade paper, and bound by hand using leather or other materials,” Williams mentioned. “It’s amazing how much they were able to acquire a bunch of classics in one place for an exhibit,” commented Vanessa Aguilar, a third-year English major when looking at the books. Fellow students who work in the Special Collections area of the library also commented on how fascinating the miniature books are in design.
Along with introducing UCR students to the world of miniature books, Williams hopes to publicize MBS, which hosts miniature book making competitions for its members and offers grants to students who want to pursue studies in miniature books. Juried competitions are held for creators of miniature books in order to acknowledge the skills of the individuals creating the books, gain recognition for the creators and to help maintain an interest in miniature books in general.
MBS awards five grants annually with a maximum of $1,000 dollars. These grants are given by individual MBS individuals and in association with Bromer Booksellers of Boston. With this exhibition, Williams hopes UCR students will be excited to discover a new kind of “book” they are unfamiliar with and explore UCR Special Collections and University Archives as a source of inspiration.