Collins Library Links:  Spotlight on Special Collections


Spotlight on Special Collections

In a previous Collins Library Links, we shared information on University Archives and Manuscripts.  Today we share information on our special collections.  We know that students benefit from working with the unique items in our collections.  To examine a medieval manuscript, turn the pages of a book hand printed hundreds of years ago, or discover the artistry of a contemporary hand made book, they develop a connection with the past and present and reflect upon how knowledge is transmitted.

Cosmographia (1584)
Cosmographia (1584)

The University of Puget Sound Archives & Special Collections is home to hundreds of linear feet of books, including rare materials, artists’ books, and zines.  Our earliest books date from the 16th century, including a 1584 edition of Peter Apian’s scientific text Cosmographia and a 1538 edition of Plutarch’s Lives.  Special Collections is also home to a Geneva Bible, the same edition of the Bible used by William Shakespeare, John Donne, and numerous other 16th century English Protestants.

Areas of strength in our collection include religious and philosophical texts, local history, literature, the sciences, and artists’ books.

What are Artists’ Books?

Books are My Utopia (2020)

Artists’ books are works of art inspired by the form and function of the book.  They may look like traditional codices, or they may take on entirely new forms.  Formats in our Special Collections include accordion books, books made from fabric, and even a set of documents housed in a lunchbox.  Numerous artists’ books from Special Collections are included in the current Collins Library exhibit, Changing the Conversation, which is on display through December 11th.

One of the newest additions to our artists’ books collection is Books are My Utopia (pictured above), a collection of aphorisms about books and reading.  Each page features a printed quote along with hand-rendered calligraphic embellishment by artist Will Rueter.

What are Zines?

A selection of Collins Library zines

Zines are small-format, low-budget, inexpensive booklets that are self-published and ephemeral in nature.  The zine scene is inherently democratic: anyone can make a zine about anything for any reason.  Many zines celebrate niche interests, embrace creative expression, foreground personal narratives, or argue for a particular political or social position.  Special Collections is home to more than 500 zines exploring topics as varied as reproductive health, electronic music, LGBTQ rights, women in prison, and environmental concerns.  

Special Collections in the Classroom

The Archives & Special Collections encourages faculty to visit our space with their classes to familiarize students with rare books, artists’ books, and zines.  Students can handle books that are hundreds of years old and discover how books, reading, and subject areas such as science and literature have changed over time.  They can also explore the creative possibilities of book design and learn new ways to tell their own stories through nontraditional book arts.  To discuss a session or set up a time to visit Special Collections, contact    

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