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Behind the scenes

By Lynne Raughley

The University of Michigan Library is hosting a series of “A View Behind the Scenes” talks to help mark the opening of a new teaching and exhibit space in the Special Collections Library.

The room, which is part of the Special Collections Library on the 7th floor of the Hatcher Graduate Library, has long been used to display some of the collection’s treasures. Now newly refurbished to accommodate talks and seminars as well as exhibits, the space will host its third talk in the series, 4 p.m. April 5 in the MLibrary Gallery.

Book conservator Julia Miller will speak about the exhibit “Historical Book Bindings: A Thousand Years of Structure and Style” (March 23-June 12, in the Audubon Room), which features a wide assortment of book binding types and styles from the last 1000 years. Miller, guest curator of the exhibit, will discuss changes in the codex—that is, the bound book—from early, well-documented historical bindings to later styles that are just beginning to be identified and studied.

Alvarez, who coordinated the series of talks and the related exhibits, says that the new space will enable more engagement with the many treasures in the Special Collections Library, and with the librarians, curators, and conservators responsible for them. The talks and exhibits, he says, will “give people opportunities to get a glimpse of the kinds of activities and expertise required to collect, preserve, and share these valuable and culturally important books and objects.”

The first talk was held March 23 when Pablo Alvarez , Outreach Librarian and Curator, will speak about the exhibit, “Watermarks from Venice,” which runs through June 30. The exhibit features early printed books produced in Venice from the fifteenth century (when Venice was renowned for book printing) and beyond. Alvarez’s talk will feature film clips depicting Venice in a theatrical light, and will tell the tale of how an idea was transformed into a fascinating visual experience.

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Lynne Raughley is a writer for the University of Michigan Libraries.