Special Collections & Archives

What is Book Arts Baltimore?

BOOK ARTS BALTIMORE is a special celebration of artists' books and book arts in Baltimore, which begins in the fall of 2015 and ends in the fall of 2017.

  • An artist's book is a book... or something like a book... that is also a work of art. It might be an illustrated book, perhaps a collaboration between a writer and a visual artist. Or it might be a textual object that doesn't even look like a book: an object that invites hands-on exploration, or that asks us to reconsider categories like "book" and "art."
  • Book arts include illustration, typography, book-binding, book decoration... any of the technologies, artistic techniques, and crafts used to create books and artists' books.

Nine Baltimore-area institutions are collaborating during this two-year-long period to bring more attention to artists' books and book arts... to rejoice in their beauty and inventiveness... to teach us how they are made and how to make them... and to help us discover what these extraordinary objects tell us about the past, the present, and the future of books.


Clark Coolidge, design by A. S. C. Rower, On the Slates. New York: Flockophobic Press, 1992. From the Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University.



Johns Hopkins University courses taught in Special Collections at the Sheridan Libraries in conjunction with Book Arts Baltimore:

Fall 2015, AS.389.353. Revolutions of the Book: Material Culture & The Transformation of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Dr. Earle Havens. Tuesdays, 3 - 5:30 PM.

   Engraved view of the great library. From R. P. Claude du Molinet, Le cabinet de la Bibliotheque de Sainte Genevieve. Paris: A. Dezallier, 1692. From the Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University.








Spring 2016, AS.389.355. Reading the Peabody: Literary Culture in the Nineteenth-Century Library. Dr. Gabrielle Dean. Tuesdays, 2 - 4:20 PM.

The George Peabody Library, Baltimore, MD. Photograph by Logan Hicks (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).


A complete listing of Book Arts Baltimore events is here.

March 10, 2016, 5:15 p.m.
Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries, Macksey Seminar Room 2043, Brody Learning Commons

The Culture of Revolution: Russian and Soviet Materials in the Sheridan Libraries' Special Collections

Jeffrey Brooks, Department of History, JHU, "The Visual Turn in Russian Culture, 1900-1930."

Ann Eakin Moss, Humanities Center, JHU, "Subversive Books in the Soviet Union."

February 14, 2016, 2:00 p.m.
George Peabody Library, 17 E. Mt. Vernon Place, Baltimore

John Barth Loves Us: A Valentine to Fiction

Please join writers Rafael Alvarez, Madison Smartt Bell, Matt Porterfield, Rosalia Scalia, and Jason Tinney for readings and a roundtable discussion of contemporary fiction, in conjunction with the exhibition Lost & Found in the Funhouse: The John Barth Collection.

February 11, 2016, 6:00 p.m.
Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries, Special Collections Reading Room, Brody Learning Commons

Dirty Books & Longing Looks

A Valentine-themed display of romantic, erotic, amorous, coquettish, and bewitching materials from our collections... plus, vintage card-making!

February 2, 2016, 5:00 p.m.
Johns Hopkins University, Homewood campus, Mason Hall

Gaining/Losing Control: The Artist and the Book Format

A lecture by Stephen J. Bury, Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian, Art Reference Library, Frick Collection, New York.

Free and open to the public. Reception following the lecture.


Artist books in the Sheridan Libraries are housed in Special Collections. Please come visit us in the Brody Learning Commons!

Our collections also include "editions de luxe" and illustrated books through the ages... modernist avant-garde periodicals and ephemera... traditional artist books from the twentieth century through the present... and books that transcend the conventions of the codex.

You can see some selections from our collections here.