15th Annual Bibliography Week Lecture: Author Robert Bringhurst on "The Book Before Writing"

(NEW YORK, January 8, 2009) The Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library will host its 15th annual Bibliography Week Lecture this month featuring Robert Bringhurst, poet and author of The Elements of Typographic Style, who will speak on "The Book Before Writing." The event will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 20th in the Faculty Room of Low Memorial Library. The talk is free and open to the public.

Since 1995, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library has presented its annual lecture during Bibliography Week, when the principal national organizations devoted to book history have their annual meetings in New York. The series explores topics in a wide variety of related fields including calligraphy, paper, type design, printing, illustration and book binding.

This year’s lecture, "The Book Before Writing," will focus on the art of bookmaking in cultures with oral traditions. Books exist in oral cultures too. The oral book is intangible, invisible, and weightless. It is, however, anything but shapeless. Oral books can be as intricately formed as anything ever written. Where the oral and written intersect, some interesting things can occur. There are few more fascinating challenges for the typographer than the task of giving physical forms to oral books: making lasting and legible incarnations of books whose authors never wrote a word.

A reception will immediately follow the talk in the Low Memorial Library Rotunda.

Robert Bringhurst is the 2009 American Printing History Association Laureate and author of The Elements of Typographic Style (1992; 3rd ed., 2004). He has published numerous books of poetry and prose, including his groundbreaking study of a Native American oral literature, A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World (1999). Bringhurst has taught literature, art history and history of typography at several universities and held fellowships from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

For more information regarding the Bibliography Week Lecture or to attend this year’s event, please contact Columbia University Libraries by sending an email to cul-events@columbia.edu. To view other book-related events during Bibliography Week, visit www.grolierclub.org/bibliographyweek2009.htm.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 25 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb is the gateway to its services and resources.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns over 600,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children‘s literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For more information, please see: www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/rbml/

01/08/09 LMK