A new opportunity for experiential learning has come to the Library with the construction of a book arts lab on the main level. While this project has captured the imagination of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members, the book arts lab will be particularly important in helping to bolster experiential learning opportunities in FASS courses beginning in the 2020–21 school year. Construction of the lab was completed this September.
On the main floor of MacOdrum Library stands a 1916 Chandler and Price platen printing press. In its past lives, the press is said to have printed the Pembroke Observer and the poetry of Ladysmith Press in Quebec. It was later resurrected from a barn in North Gower by English Professor Michael Thompson, and in 1991, the press commemorated the opening of the library extension. Since that time, it has stood as a monument to the 500 years of print history.

The Background

In its next 100 years, this Chandler and Price press will become the centerpiece of a living book arts laboratory within MacOdrum Library. This workspace will teach document production throughout the course of Canadian history. In addition, we will exhibit the creation of medieval manuscripts and display bookbinding tools, early printed books from Carleton’s rare books collection.

This unique initiative has already begun to build community. Plans for the book arts laboratory have been a collaborative effort. Our multidisciplinary team makes use of collaboration between the faculty and the library and has been reaching out to institutions in Ottawa such as the Canada Science and Technology Museum, to the local book arts community, to individual printers and artists, and to other universities with book arts laboratories across North America.
In winter 2018, Industrial Design students in IDES 5103: Interdisciplinary Design Studio were the first Carleton students to take advantage of this opportunity for experiential learning. They spent the term working up plans for the book arts lab, which were shared with Edward Cuhachi and Associates Architects.

The Rollout

The lab has been built; however, there are ongoing cost of consumables such as paper, ink, type and book binding supplies. We also intend to have students apprentice in the lab, learning first hand from our print master about techniques, methods and assist with instructing and watching over student projects. We hope to secure resources for two apprentices.

The Impact

This project will bring together older technology and combine it with new academic methodologies to create an experiential learning opportunity for many students. This converging technology is an ideal way for the library to uniquely participate in teaching, learning and research at Carleton. The lab also has the potential to bring communities in Ottawa and beyond together to share expertise and book art knowledge.

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