F&M College Library

Artists' Books at Franklin & Marshall

Collection Development

The Franklin & Marshall College Library actively collects artists’ books, described as artworks in book form, and books/booklets authored by artists whose intention it is to make them as art. The term “book form” is used loosely. Categories in the genre include:

  • Book-like objects/Sculptural books - Book forms that emphasize physical characteristics and are produced as unique objects or in very limited editions. Likely evaluated as crafted objects. 
  • Multiples - Artistic concepts in book format, produced in open or large editions, printed inexpensively (traditionally offset or xerography, more recently desktop printing), and distributed widely, even indiscriminately. Those criteria also inform the term “democratic multiples.” Eight- or 12-page black-and-white pamphlets characterize (but do not define) democratic multiples.
  • Limited editions - Small and numbered editions, sometimes the products of artist/writer collaborations.


   Riker, Time Out  King, Turn Over Darling  CUP, Cargo Chain  Spitz & Pollack, Inheritance  Booklyn, Scream


Images from (L to R):  vampandtramp.com (Time Out, Turn Over Darling); welcometocup.org (The Cargo Chain); vampandtramp.com (The Inheritance); booklyn.org (Scream at the Librarian) 


The focus of Franklin & Marshall’s collection is:

  1. Books that lend themselves to formal analysis as three-dimensional artworks; also, books as made objects that demonstrate construction conventions, i.e. concertina, flag, flip, tunnel, pop-up, etc. Example:  Time Out, Maryann Riker
  2. Books that demonstrate the studio processes of printmaking, papermaking, or photography. Example:  Turn Over Darling, Ronald King
  3. Books made in the spirit of democratic multiples, especially when content is relevant to F&M’s liberal arts/interdisciplinary curriculum. Example:  The Cargo Chain, The Center for Urban Pedagogy.
  4. Books that reference institutional identity, including work by alumni and faculty. Examples: Franklin Fatigue, Karen Hanmer; The Inheritance, Spitz & Pollack


Franklin & Marshall began to deliberately collect artists’ books in 2006. In nearly every sense the collection is a teaching one, the exception being the acquisition of artists’ books that relate to institutional identity. The College collects books for their content and books for their structure.  Both types tie to the pedagogy of liberal arts education in some way.

Associated areas of collecting include the scholarship of artists' books and technique books to encourage students to incorporate the genre into their own academic and studio practices. 

Bibliographic records for the Artists’ Books Collection can be found in the Library Catalog by searching for the Subject term “Artists’ books rbgenr.”


Louise Kulp | May 30, 2012; rev. Aug. 24, 2016


Anna Boutin-Cooper | December 10, 2019