Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 115
December 1997


Dora Middleton, 1922 - 1997

Dora Middleton, wife of Bernard Middleton and Honorary Fellow of Designer Bookbinders since 1972, died in St. Thomas's hospital on August 2nd. The cause of death was an untreatable cancer.

Marianne Tidcombe, in an Obituary in the DB Newsletter No. 100 Autumn 1997, writes that the Middletons were married in 1951, the year Bernard became manager of Zaehnsdorf. When they set up their own bindery in Soho, in London, a few years later, Dora did the sewing and kept the books. Her work with the Cats Protection League resulted in the Middletons being "known as a soft touch when it came to cats, they at one time accommodated a staggering twenty-seven!"

Dora acted as hostess to DB (the Guild of Contemporary Bookbinders at that time) when early general meetings and committee meetings were held in Bernard's bindery and it was her suggestion, Ms. Tidcombe recalls, to hold the very successful 'bring and buy' sales in the early 1980s, when DB was trying to raise money to launch The New Bookbinder.

HBC Holds 25th Annual Members Exhibition

The Hand Bookbinders of California is holding its silver anniversary member's exhibition. this show features more than 50 examples of the binder's art and is being held in the sixth floor Skylight Gallery of San Francisco's Main Library from November 4th through December 28, 1997. Information on the exhibition is available from the Book Arts and Special Collections Center at the San Francisco Public Library; ph: 415 557-4560.

A dinner to celebrate their anniversary was held Friday, November 7th at the University Club in San Francisco. Founding Members Stella Patri, Barbara Land and Victor Honig were among the guests.

CBA Appoints Executive Director

The Center for Book Arts in New York City appointed Peter Smith as its Executive Director on October 1, 1997. Mr. Smith, a native of England, has spent his entire working life in North America in university administration posts, most recently as the dean of Columbia University's School of the Arts. Before his eight year deanship at Columbia, he spent eighteen years in various roles at Dartmouth, most of that time as the Director of the Hopkins Center for the Arts.

British Library Reading Room Shuttered For Good

On October 25, 1997 a 140 year tradition was brought to a close as the British Library's world renowned reading room was permanently closed. This architectural treasure in the center of the British Museum, which comprises an enormous space with a 160 foot domed ceiling, is being cashiered in favor of more modern cross-town quarters. According to an October 25th article in The New York Times, the twelve million volumes that the library contains are being packed and shipped cross-town as well. There library patrons will find all the modern conveniences, such as the ubiquitous computerized card catalog and-for users of laptop computers-electrical outlets at each desk. Ah, progress. Or is it?

Les Amis de la Reliure d'Art - U.S.A.

Paula Marie Gourley, National Delegate to l'ARA (Friends of Artistic Bookbinding) reports: The next conference of l'ARA is in the planning stages and will be held in Venice, Italy.The site host will be Sybille Pino, President of the Italian national group representing many regions of Italy. No detailed information is available as yet, so I will keep you informed of developments as they occur.

The conferences held by l'ARA are usually of three days' duration and include panel discussions, keynote talks and exhibitions of book bindings by professionals, amateurs and students of the art of hand bookbinding. A full-color catalogue normally is produced to document the exhibition. Previous conferences have been held in Montreal, Luxembourg, Basel, Toulouse and Monaco since 1986.

To date, there has been no conference fee charged to participants, though of course participants provide their own transportation and housing at the conference site. Your membership in the Guild of Book Workers includes an automatic membership, at no cost to you, in l'ARA U.S.A. Other national groups have been established in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Greece, Russia, and Israel.

Information about the group and its activities are published in the Guild's Newsletter. Inquiries about l'ARA and its international membership may be addressed to Emile van der Vekene, President of l'ARA, 58 Domaine Mehlstrachen, L-6942 Niederanven, Luxembourg.

ACA Founded

The Association for the Calligraphic Arts was founded in February, 1997. This organization is soliciting charter members from the calligraphic community during 1997. Membership information is available from: ACA, 132 Great Stow Rd., Suite 200, Stow, MA 01775; (508) 461-0400 (through 11/97; (978) 461-0400 (after 11/97); email at:

Board Warpage

According to an article in the Summer issue of Cover to Cover, the Library Binding Service's magazine, in most cases of warped boards the paperboard material itself is not at fault. This article was written by Werner Rebsamen, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.

In Rebsamen's opinion, it's the binder's job to control the factors that lead to board warpage rather than pointing a finger at the paperboard manufacturer after things go awry.

PC Crisis Line

Can't figure out how to feed envelopes into that laser printer? Having trouble getting through to the technical support people at your computer's manufacturer? A new business offers hand holding and help. If they can't square your problem away, there's no charge. The average call is handled in about five minutes at a rate of $3.00 per minute. (After ten minutes, the rate drops to $1.00 per minute.)

If the three technicians at PC Crisis Line can't help you, they will refer you to someone who can. The best news of all is that they never put callers on hold; if they can't help you right now they'll call back within half an hour or give you two free minutes of consultation time. The toll-free number is (800) 828-4358

MBS Holds Fifteenth Conclave

One hundred members of the Miniature Book Society gathered in Bethlehem, PA over Labor Day weekend. They enjoyed events ranging from a visit to Ephrata Cloister and a working demonstration of an iron hand press. A fund raising auction netted the organization over $4,400 and gave many members an opportunity to bolster their tiny libraries. Thirty four vendors showed their wares at the Book Fair; an important part of this annual gathering. Five of them-Maryline Adams, Frank Anderson, Michael Canoso, Gabrielle Fox Butler, and Donna Thomas-are members of the Guild of Book Workers. Information on the M.B.S. is available from Miss Loretta Gentile, 10 Albert St., Waltham, MA 02154.

The Area Code You've Reached Has Been Changed

Many Guild members have been subjected to the inconvenience of having their telephone area codes shifted of late. Expensive stationery and business cards can quickly turn into scrap paper. Worse yet, since the phone company's recorded notification service doesn't run forever, occasional clients may slip through the cracks and be unable to make contact . For a mail order merchant, this capricious code changing can be a catastrophe. Blame it on the cellular phones, pagers, fax machines, and Internet access lines that many of us can't seem to live without. They all need phone numbers. According to telecommunications authorities, the only alternative to the introduction of new codes would be to add another digit to everyone's phone number; unthinkable, or so they say.

Apply for the Carolyn Horton Fund Award

This award, administered by the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC), is offered annually to support continuing education or training for professional book and paper conservators. You must be a member of AIC's Book and Paper Group in order to qualify. The amount of the award varies with need. Funds may be applied to attendance at professional meetings, seminars, workshops, and other educational events. Deadline for applications is February 1, 1998. To obtain an application, write to: Carolyn Horton Fund, FAIC, 1717 K Street, NW, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20006.