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Standards of Excellence 2014

The Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding is the annual Guild of Book Workers conference. Held annually at a different location around the country, participants attend presentations by leading experts in the fields related to the book and paper arts. Tours of binderies, conservation facilities, rare book libraries and papermaking establishments are regularly arranged in conjunction with the event. A list of past presentations is available on the History of Standards page. Additionally, many Seminar presentations are videotaped and made available to members and for purchase. The Guild's Annual Meeting is held in conjunction with the seminar.


For more information about the Standards of Excellence Seminar, contact Brenda Parsons, Standards Committee Chair.




Registration is limited to 150 people. Deadline to register is September 29, 2014. Online registration is available and is encouraged. If you are paying with a credit card, you must use the online registration form.

Registration Rates:

Member (Early Rate) June 1 - July 31 $290
    Aug 1 - Oct 1 $360
Non-Member (Early Rate) June 1 - July 31 $370
    Aug 1 - Oct 1 $440
Student     $200

All questions regarding registration should be directed to Alicia Bailey, Treasurer. All fees listed on the registration form are in US dollars. There is a cancellation fee of 10% of the Registration Fee up to 30 days before the Seminar. No refunds are given for cancellations made within the 30 days prior to the conference. Cancellation fees do not apply to scholarship applicants who do not receive an award and are unable to attend without financial assistance. Registrations may not be shared and are non-transferable.

Registration Closed

Purchase Additional Banquet Tickets




Scholarships are available to attend the Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding Seminar to Guild of Book Workers members for whom attendance would create a financial hardship. There are scholarships for both student and regular members. Applicants must be a member at the time of application. The scholarship consists of a waiver of registration fees to the Seminar, lodging costs for three nights (Thursday through Saturday) at the conference hotel and the banquet. This is for lodging only and does not include phone calls, movie rentals, or any other room service. Recipients are responsible for making their own travel plans. After scholarships are awarded GBW treasurer will contact recipients to discuss lodging arrangements. Recipients may be asked to help with newsletter coverage and/or assist with other tasks during the seminar. Applications must be received by July 11, 2014. Address questions to Bexx Caswell, Vice President.


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Seminar Schedule

3:30 pm – 8:00 pm Registration and Information Table in the Excalibur Hotel Great Hall

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Chapter Chair meeting at the Normandy and Saxony Rooms in the Excalibur Hotel

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Board meeting at the Normandy and Saxony Rooms in the Excalibur Hotel


University of Nevada at Las Vegas Libraries Preservation Laboratory

We will be offering free tours of the UNLV University Libraries Preservation Lab at 9:00 AM, 10:30 AM, and 1:00 PM. If the interest is high enough, we will provide an additional tour time. There will be a limit of 11 people per tour. Tours are co-sponsored by UNLV and the Church History Library of Salt Lake City. Pre-registration is required. Please select your choice of time when you register for the seminar. You will be contacted to confirm tour time.

Self-Guided Tours of Las Vegas

There is so much to see and do on the Las Vegas Strip that we've opted not to offer multiple tours but to provide information about what there is to see. We will post this information here as well as provide it in the packets you will receive when you arrive at the Seminar. Click any of the links below to download a printable PDF file.




Presentations and Presenters

Queen Elizabeth the First did it. Marie Antoinette did it, too, and so did William Barton Rogers. People throughout history want to keep their communications private. Learn about the 4,000-year-old tradition of writing a letter on papyrus, parchment, or paper and folding it to function as its own envelope. Explore the techniques used to study and interpret the three dimensionality of letters written on paper. Try your hand at securing shut and “un-locking” facsimiles of historic letters provided by Jana. Learn how to preserve the historic manuscripts. Academics, bookbinders, conservators, contemporary book artists, origami makers, paper engineers, letter-writers, secret keepers and anti-tamper device seekers...if you identify as any or all of the above, this presentation is for you.

Jana Dambrogio was born in Youngstown, Ohio and works as the Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries. She earned a BA from the University of Pittsburgh in 1994, her MA and Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation from SUNY, Buffalo State College, and a hand bookbinding certificate from the Canadian Bookbinders Book Artists Guild in 2000. She continues her study of 14-17th century Italian archival records she conserved at the Vatican Secret Archives in 2000. Support from a 2002 Kittredge Scholarship and a 2008 Booth Family Rome Prize in Historic preservation and conservation at the American Academy in Rome, have allowed her to advance her research. She lectures and teaches workshops internationally on how to look at, make models of, and develop approaches to conserving libary and archival binding, letter folding, and letterlocking structures.

Parchment has a mystique and a mind of its own. The mystique we admire, the mind we must work with! Warped boards and broken hinges are evidence of parchment’s unruly nature–and these flaws occur in both historic and newer bindings. The hygroscopc nature of this wonderful material allows it to expand and contract as the environment changes, which can lead to potential problems for books. On the other hand, the strength and beauty of parchment makes it an ideal material for bookbinding. This presentation will demonstrate a parchment binding over boards, which will accentuate the beauty of parchment and compensate for its tendency to wander.

Peter Geraty began bookbinding in 1975 at Unicorn Press in Greensboro, NC, where he worked as a printer, typesetter and binder for several years. He moved to Boston in 1977, and continued working as a binder at various places including: library binding at the New England Bookbinding Company, conservation at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University and over four years at Harcourt Bindery, ending his time there as shop manager. In 1984 he began working as an independent binder and in 1985 moved to Easthampton, MA. As owner of Praxis Bindery, he focuses on conservation, fine binding, edition binding and creating presentation materials for publishers, corporations and artists. He is currently director of the Integrated Studies Program at the American Academy of Bookbinding in Telluride, CO.

Carousel books first appeared as children’s books in the 1930’s and became more popular after WWII. A carousel book is a little theater in the round. They can take two forms – the window type or the wall and floor type that allows for the inclusion of pop-ups. The carousel book to be presented uses a hybrid format that I devised to allow for both scenes and separate text panels. The spine tabbing, also of my devising, functions both to hold the book together and to balance the thickness at the fore-edge. The book was my entry for the Designer Bookbinder’s International Shakespeare competition and won a silver prize.

Emily Martin has been making prints, drawings and artist’s books since the late 1970’s. In 1996 she started the Naughty Dog Press to produce her own limited editions of primarily sculptural and movable artist’s books. Martin joined the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book in 1998, to teach a variety of classes exploring artist’s books, including Movable & Sculptural Books, Paper Engineering & Pop Up Books and Artist’s Books. During her career she has produced over 35 limited edition artist’s books using a variety of production techniques including letterpress printing, intaglio printing, silkscreen printing, inkjet printing and photocopies. The Naughty Dog was a Jack Russell terrier named Gomez. He was Emily Martin’s first and so far only dog. He was both very smart and very badly trained, seemingly a disastrous combination, but he was also very charming. Gomez was a loyal companion in the studio and is greatly missed to this day.

The traditional medieval girdle book has an extended covering of soft leather often ending with a Turk’s Head knot. The book was bound in this way so the knot could be tucked under a girdle or belt and the book swung up for reading. Renate’s presentation will start with a brief introduction into the history and variations of the girdle book. The demonstration will include: how to prepare a textblock for this binding, sewing endbands, preparing and attaching the wooden boards, paring the skin for covering, making the Turk’s Head knot as a finish on the extended covering and attaching a pair of simple brass clasps.

Renate Mesmer is the Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library, where she also held the position as Assistant Head of Conservation until 2011. Before coming to the United States, she directed the Book and Paper Conservation Program at the Centro del bel Libro in Ascona, Switzerland. She has a Masters in Bookbinding from the Chamber of Crafts of Palatinate in Germany and started working as a bookbinder when she was sixteen. As Head of Conservation at the Speyer’s State Archives in Germany she gained experience in conservation and was awarded a grant to study conservation abroad. Her internships took her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Library of Congress, the Folger Shakespeare Library as well as the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. Renate has enjoyed teaching a great variety of workshops in book and paper conservation in the U.S., Switzerland and Australia for many years.




Hotel and Travel Information


Need a roommate?

Head over to the Standards Discussion in the new Members' Forum and create or answer a post.


Transportation Information


The Excalibur Hotel is about three miles from the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. Taxi, shuttle, and rental car services are available at either terminal. (McCarran Airport has two terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. Terminal 2 was torn down).

Shuttle services include:
Airline Shuttle Corp (ASC): (888) 554-1156
SuperShuttle: (800) BLUE-VAN (258-3826)
Bell Trans: (800) 274-7433

For a complete listing of ground transportation options from the airport (including cabs, shuttles, limousines, and rental car agencies) click here. For additional tips on Las Vegas travel, we recommend checking out the tips here. Hotel/casino parking is free all along the Las Vegas Strip. If you are driving into Las Vegas or renting a car, let the valets do your parking for you at the cost of a $2 to $5 tip.