“Books are a uniquely portable magic,” Stephen King once wrote. They have the power to transport the reader away from their present situation and into a new place. For a historian, they are the means by which knowledge is kept safe through the decades or centuries. Though the information contained in books is frequently studied, the housings themselves are habitually ignored. I do not wish for this rich cultural history to be lost. Book historian Julia Miller claims that though rebinding or discarding objects inevitably results in a primary loss, “A different type of loss occurs when a book is in a collection, but its historical significance is unnoticed.” This exhibit is an opportunity to partially rectify this problem within our collection and to provide students and visitors a valuable opportunity to learn more about the history and methods of bookbinding.
Louisa Eastley is an undergraduate student studying English Literature and History at BYU. She became involved in bookbinding and conservation in 2017. Since 2019, she has worked in the Book Repair and Conservation labs in the HBLL. This exhibit forms part of her honors thesis project documenting bookbinding methods and progression in the Middle Ages, using artifacts from the L Tom Perry Special Collections.