by Marcia Morphy
The personal archives of its namesake, Melbert B. Cary Jr., come to life in Highlights of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at Rochester Institute of Technology, a new book published by RIT Press that showcases one of the nation’s premier libraries on graphic communication history. Within this historic collection are cuneiform tablets dating back to 4th millennium BCE; the First Newspaper circa 1470-71; Manuale Tipografico type specimens by master designer, printer Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813); two surviving leaves from the Gutenberg Bible; and the renowned and recently restored Kelmscott/Goudy Printing Press once used by William Morris, the father of the Arts & Crafts movement in England.
Authors Steven K. Galbraith, curator of the Cary collection; Amelia Hugill-Fontanel, associate curator; and Kari Horowicz, librarian for RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, believe the depth of the collection serves as a site for inspiration, education and collaboration.
“The treasures highlighted in our catalog speak to the extraordinary growth of our library over the past 45 years,” noted Galbraith. “Preparing this catalog led me to think quite a lot about the curators and professors who built the Cary Collection—both the content and the physical space. We hope that their legacies are reflected in the pages of our catalog.”
Hugill-Fontanel said the artifacts presented in the book are some of the best examples of much larger holdings within the Cary for each genre. These subject areas include rare books covering hundreds of years of publishing history, printing technology, original calligraphy, fine bookbinding and contemporary design archives.
Since its founding in 1969, Cary’s initial collection of 2,300 books has grown to a library of more than 45,000 volumes, along with related archives including the Bernard C. Middleton Collection on bookbinding and the Graphic Design Archive, documenting the work of 20th century’s most prominent Modernist graphic designers. Located on the second floor of The Wallace Center, the Cary Collection is now considered an integral part of RIT Libraries.
“This book celebrates the jewels of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection with exquisite photography and cogent texts which illuminate the objects,” said Horowicz. “It’s a historical sampling that exemplifies the mission and scope of the library.”
But above all, the authors unanimously agree that the best way to experience the Cary Collection is to visit in person.
“We want the book to offer a glimpse of the treasures held within the library, and perhaps get some patrons motived to make a trip or get in touch with us,” said Hugill-Fontanel. “This book is as much a celebration of our 45th anniversary at RIT as it is an effort in widening our community reach.”
Highlights of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at Rochester Institute of Technology is available for $22.95 at http://ritpress.rit.edu or by calling RIT Press at 585-475-6766.
Note: RIT Press is the scholarly book publishing enterprise at Rochester Institute of Technology—dedicated to the innovative use of new publishing technology while upholding high standards in content quality, publication design, and print/digital production. The Press offers specialized titles for niche academic audiences, trade editions for mass-market audiences and occasional limited editions with unique aesthetic standards.