The first six months of my tenure have certainly been exciting and busy ones, although much of the work has been done "behind the scenes". It is only now that my time, and newsletter space, allow for a few comments.
While I have many ideas for projects during my term, there are three specific areas on which I have been concentrating my efforts so far: a) increasing awareness of the Guild and its work both within the bookbinding community and to the "general public"; b) widening the Guilds exposure outside the United States; and c) investigating health and liability insurance possibilities for GBW members.
The first, increasing the Guilds visibility here in the United States, has been by far the most fun. Attending book arts functions in Aurora, N.Y., Southern California (where a new Chapter is nearly a reality now), and Portland, Oregon, allowed me, as a vendor, to display GBW membership material, Journals and catalogs to large groups of bookbinders. And increasingly, the computer has become a major form of promotion. I have organized a monthly "Bookbinders Chat", specifically on Ameica On Line (contact me at KarenC5071 if you subscribed and are interested in getting on our list). There are about 115 AOLers on the list and about a dozen of them join in simultaneously for each "chat"; Peter Verheyen maintains the Book_Arts-L "mailing list" related to the book arts, which is accessible through the Internet and includes about 473 people interested in all aspects of the book arts, and notes have been posted on various "bulletin boards" offering members referrals to book collectors and book dealers in need of restoration services. Bernadette Callery, who maintains all of our membership records, says that we have hit record-breaking enrollment numbers. And no wonder!
International recognition is on the rise as well; Designer Bookbinders in England have asked us to write a feature article about the Guild of Book Workers for their 1996 journal issue. Priscilla Spitler will head up a committee to get that going. I have been in correspondence with Art et Metiers du Livre in France, whose editors have expressed interest in doing some "collaborations" in the future, and several other international groups are presently exchanging newsletters with us, so we hope to get them to include more information about GBW in future.
The most challenging project has been in trying to secure various types of insurance coverage for our members. Many of you responded to my query, indicating that you are overwhelmingly interested in Health Coverage. I have been in contact with SIX people - three insurance brokers and three carriers - and each have told me that no special group Health rates can be offered because our members are spread throughout the U.S. (rates arebased on gender, age and geographical location). Each would be willing to quote individual members, but at $250 - $400 per month (!), going to them direct is no bargain. I am in contact with another, not-for-profit, group which is interested in joining forces to try to come up with a suitable solution by trying to piggy-back our resources. More on this later, but suffice it to say, this project may, or may not, ever get off the ground.
Liability insurance, on the other hand, is something that we can consider. I will be discussing this again, perhaps in the next issue, but we have found several "artists" and "conservators" policies that would cover a member should disaster strike their home or workshop. Typically, these policies cover your equipment, your clients property while in your possession, "works in progress" (such as that desin binding you are all going to do for next years GBW exhibition, right?), and property in transit, for about $500 per year. Some homeowners and renters policies may also be able to have Riders placed on them to cover home-based businesses. Details on all of this will follow.
So I, and all of the other GBW volunteers, have been quietly hard at work. And although I have my hands full most of the time, I am a good juggler - so call me if you have ideas, comments or suggestions for us to consider.
Karen L. Crisalli
Bernadette Callerys latest rundown of the Membership status is:
Current membership: 843
Chapters: New York - 119; Midwest - 88; New England - 134; Potomac - 30; Delaware Valley - 50; Lone Star - 50; now-forming Rocky Mountain - 12.
The Southern California group reports about 15 signed up towards the 20 needed for full chapterhood.