Mahn Center Exhibit Illustrates Women’s Roles in Book Creation – OHIO University Libraries

Mahn Center Exhibit Illustrates Women’s Roles in Book Creation

Graphic Design by Chance Brinkman-Sull/Ohio University Libraries

The fifth floor of Alden Library will be full of women for the rest of the spring semester.

One step past the Founders Day exhibit—which this year highlights 150 years of women at OHIO—is an exhibit that focuses on the history of women in the book-creation industry.

The exhibit, titled “Women Creating Books: Discovering Female Authors, Artists, Painters, Publishers and More in the Rare Book Collection,” is located inside the Mahn Center and will include more than 20 books created in some way by women, said Miriam Intrator, special collections librarian.

Unlike the Founders Day exhibit, the book-making exhibit will not center on OHIO women, but it will feature women who created books in the state of Ohio, among others, Intrator said, ranging from printer Jane Aitken to binding designer Margaret Armstrong.

“In the early days, as with most industries, book-making was predominantly male,” said Intrator. “However, women had roles as well, and some pushed the boundaries. [We want to] expand the narrative and range of voices coming out of the rare book collection.”

She added that the title “Women Creating Books” is broad on purpose, as women’s roles in the books highlighted include writing, publishing, illustrating and binding.

“The intention is to highlight the range and history of American women’s contributions not only to literature science, poetry, art, etc., but also to the making of the physical book itself, over time,” Intrator said.

Along with complementing the Founders Day exhibit, the exhibit was created to coincide with Women’s History Month, celebrated each year in March, said Intrator.

“Rare book collections are traditionally and historically very white and male. But we try to collect different voices, narratives and stories,” she said. “We need to do a bit more work to document the other experiences and tell the other stories that are important for everybody to know and be exposed to,” she said.