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Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Canada

ISSN: 0709-3756

Summer 2022
New Series, number 96

EN | FR
Table of Contents

President's Report ** Obituary ** Member News
President's Report

It has been 75 years since the founding of the Bibliographical Society of Canada. It’s an incredible milestone for our Society and its members who have contributed to its growth and impact on bibliography and book studies in Canada. What started as a meeting of three scholars, Lorne Pierce, Ernest Cockburn Kyte, and Marie Tremaine at the Ryerson Press editorial office during war-time Canada in 1942, later developed into the first Annual Meeting of the Society at the Library Club in Toronto on 7 June 1947. The longevity of our Society speaks to the commitment of our members in promoting the study and practice of bibliography and book studies through scholarship, the funding of awards and fellowships, the continual publication of our Bulletin and Papers/Cahiers, the annual conference and members’ meetings, and, quite simply, being a delightful community of which I am incredibly privileged to be a member. The last couple of years have been extraordinarily difficult for everyone and, in many cases, devastating. I am constantly warmed by the generosity and compassion of our community during these precarious times, and I hope we continue to support each other as our environment and society transform in relation to the seismic global events around us.
 
The first 50 years of our Society’s history have been described by our colleague Liana Van der Bellen and can be read in the Papers/Cahiers. It’s an excellent overview of our meetings, publications, and the wider activities of our members until 1997. Over the 25 years since then, two broad shifts have occurred that have greatly impacted our Society and the wider fields of bibliography and book studies. First, we have seen expanded definitions of the text and the book beyond print culture formats. Second, the incorporation of internet and computing technologies into the production and circulation of works. Large repositories of digitized records like HathiTrust, open encyclopedias of reference material like Wikipedia, and online bibliographies of creators works like IMDb, have become essential resources in any scholar’s research. The continued emergence of born-digital texts like electronic literature, digital games, and mobile applications has presented scholars with mediums and formats that challenge long-held notions of textuality and the book. The prevalence of producing and circulating texts online has transformed the scope of our field and how we conduct scholarship.
 
While this has led to unprecedented access to thousands of materials and records, it has also led to important bibliographical and book studies scholarship taking place in the fields of computer science, media and communications, and digital humanities through the disciplines of software studies, media archaeology, and digital forensics. Simply put, the text and the book have never been so essential and discussed so widely than in recent years, but these conversations primarily take place outside of bibliography and book studies. This transition is reflected in the enrollment decline of humanities programs and courses and the meteoric rise of interdisciplinary fields with offerings that overlay contemporary issues with global transformations in technology, society, and culture.
 
This leads me to where we need to go in the next 25 years when the Society reaches its centenary. We need to actively engage with these disciplines through its journals, conferences, and knowledge mobilization efforts to demonstrate how bibliography and book studies contributes to wider conversations on the publishing industry, software versioning, and digital cultures to name but a few. Further, we need to continue to intersect our scholarship with the voices marginalized from the dominant dialogues in the history of authorship, publishing, and readership. This year’s conference program “At the Threshold: Looking Forward, Looking Back” continues a trend in the Society’s conferences to actively engage with these issues, as is evident from papers on ancient Egyptian funerary practices, braille bibliography, and a panel on decentering whiteness within special collections, bibliography, and book history. It is critical in the years to come that our Society’s activities and our members’ scholarship continues to take on this work and demonstrate why bibliography and book studies is relevant on the history and future of recorded cultures.
 
To that end, I am delighted to announce this year’s awards and fellowships to support the diverse and interdisciplinary scholarship of our members. The Fellowship Committee has awarded Mark Clintberg the Tremaine Fellowship and will investigate the publishing activity of The Integer (1978-1985), a small-print-run newsletter printed by the Chicago chapter of an Episcopalian gay activist group called Integrity. The Awards Committee has awarded the Emerging Scholar Prize to Julia Galmiche-Essue who researches the writing and publishing of contemporary Afro-Quebecers. The winners of the 2022 BSC-SbC Congress Graduate Merit Award that facilitates the participation of graduate students in Congress activities are Chana Algarvio (Ancient Egyptian Religion and Funerary Practices: Examining the Iconography of the Cartonnage Papyri at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library) and Eric MacPherson (James Brady’s Personal Library: A Partial Reading of Metis Anti-Colonial Socialism).
 
This year, the Program Committee is giving out the Greta Golick Award for the Study of Book Culture for the first time. The award, destined to graduate students and early career researchers, was established in honour of Dr Greta Golick (1956-2018), whose scholarship and teaching are remembered with admiration and gratitude. The recipients of the 2022 award are Sophie Edelhart (The Shtetl Imagined: Maps and Memory in 20th Century Yizkor bikher) and Billy Johnson (The Maritime Labor Herald’s Women’s Column and Interwar Socialist Feminism).
 
I am tremendously grateful for the support I have received from our Council members and wider membership in my first year as President. I would especially like to thank Geoffrey Little, who will be stepping down after this year’s AGM, for his stewardship of the Publications Committee the past ten years. Geoffrey has been a leader in ensuring our publications are sustainable and continue to produce relevant and high-quality scholarship in our field. Notably, Geoffrey edited a special issue of the Papers/Cahiers on this history of electronic books. Geoffrey has been a pillar on the Council in supporting and mentoring our junior colleagues. While we will see Geoffrey at future Society meetings, his voice will be sorely missed at Council.
 
It is with sadness that I share the passing of members Robert R. Reid and John Alexander Fleming. Robert R. Reid was a member of the book arts community in Canada and spent most of his professional life at McGill University Press. John Alexander Fleming was a professor in the French Department at the University of Toronto and contributed his language skills to The History of the Book in Canada project. Both Robert and John contributed to the life and activities of the Society and were known and loved by many in our membership.
 
Please stay safe and take care, spend time with your loved ones, and enjoy this year’s conference programming and AGM.
 
Chris J. Young
President

 

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Obituary
Robert R. Reid (1927-2022)
 
The renowned and multitalented printer and graphic designer Robert R. Reid died on January 21 at his home in Vancouver. He was 94.
 
Reid’s importance to the Bibliographical Society of Canada was both laid and assured by his work at McGill University from 1963 to 1976. Officially a designer with McGill University Press, Reid also established a private press in the basement of Redpath Hall that undertook special projects on behalf of the university. One of these was the crowning jewel of his time in Montreal, A Bibliography of Canadiana (1965), documenting the holdings of the Lawrence Lande collection of Canadiana. While the Lande bibliography is widely considered the pinnacle of Reid’s career, it was one of several high points in a life that continued to seek fresh creative possibilities.
 
Born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Reid moved to Vancouver with his parents when he was nine. Here, the gift of a small toy printing press set him on a trajectory that would eventually see him produce The Fraser Mines Vindicated (1949), widely considered to be the first private press book in Canada. Reid was still a student at the University of British Columbia, but he was rapidly finding his métier. The book has the distinction of being the first from Canada to receive a design award from the Rounce & Coffin Club of Los Angles, California.
 
Reid became a commercial printer upon graduation. His high sense of design and typography made him a rising star within Vancouver’s literary and artistic community. His commitment to the art of printing, not just the trade, was such that he sought and received an award from the Canada Council that allowed him to visit type foundries, printers and papermakers in Europe in 1962. The experiences and connections he developed in Europe stood him in good stead when an opportunity at McGill arose the following year. In a 2016 reminiscence for the Alcuin Society, Reid notes, “[I] decided that such a collection demanded a monumental book so I bought a special mouldmade paper from Spain, linen bookcloth from Holland, pigskin and Oasis Niger goatskins from Britain and hand-made papers from Britain and Italy.”
 
Reid, then 36, was entering his prime, and several monumental works followed. Portrait of a Period (1967) reproduced photos by Montreal photographer William Notman (1826-1891) on a special matte paper and won him special mention from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His time in Montreal also won him some notoriety for a postage stamp he designed then printed as part of his submission to Canada Post. The design was rejected, but an enterprising employee at the press affixed one of the stamps to a letter and Reid was soon known to police, not just to connoisseurs of fine press work.
 
Parting ways with McGill University Press in 1976, Reid went to New Haven, Connecticut, where he established a successful freelance design business with many of the major trade publishers as his clients. He also continued to print privately, including several broadsides that heralded what was to follow when he retired to Vancouver in 1998. Just as he had been gifted with a toy printing press at the age of nine, at the age of 73 he received a computer and began creating a series of digital broadsides distributed daily via e-mail. Many of these have been collected under the aegis of the Robert R. Reid Digital Ephemera Collection, a project of the late David Bellman and partner Meirion Cynog Evans through the Collective for Advanced and Unified Studies in the Visual Arts (CAUSA).
 
Reid also inspired and collaborated with younger printers and book artists during his retirement, most notably Rollin Milroy of Heavenly Monkey Press in Vancouver. Milroy catalogued Reid’s achievements in Reid’s Leaves (2001), a descriptive bibliography of his early work, and two years later collaborated on the production of Kuthan’s Menagerie Completed (2003), which hearkened back to Reid’s original collaborations with Vancouver’s artistic community in the 1950s and early 60s. More recently, Reid collaborated with Summerland, British Columbia, artist José Hernandez on Ethereal (2019), an exploration through digital art works of what Hernandez describes as “the fourth dimension” binding together life and after-life. His final book project was a design for visual artist Rahel Wosk’s privately printed portfolio A Modern Madness (2021).
 
A comprehensive overview of Reid’s career is impossible in such a small space, but his importance was recognized with the creation in 2007 of the Robert R. Reid Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Book Arts. Established by the Alcuin Society with the generous support and encouragement of Yosef Wosk, Reid was the inaugural recipient and nine other prominent figures in the book arts have since been honoured.
 
Several institutional libraries hold collections of Reid’s work, in both print and digital formats. These include the William G. Colgate History of Printing Collection at McGill University and the Rare Books and Special Collections division of the University of British Columbia. Massey College at the University of Toronto hosts the Robert R. Reid Digital Ephemera Collection assembled by CAUSA.
 
Written by Peter Mitham. Peter is editor of Amphora, the thrice-yearly journal of the Alcuin Society. He lives in Vancouver.
 
Member News
EXHIBITION ANNOUNCEMENT 
 
TEXTUS-TEXTS-TEXTILES: FABRIC BOOKWORKS OF LISE MELHORN-BOE 
May 6 to September 9, 2022 
W.D. Jordan Rare Books & Special Collections, Douglas Library, Queen’s University 
 
Textus-Texts-Textiles explores the relationship between texts and textiles, through a feminist lens, via the fabric bookworks of Kingston artist, Lise Melhorn-Boe, supplemented by books as cultural texts and technological artifacts from the collections of W.D Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections at Queen’s University Library. 
 
The sewn bookworks of Lise Melhorn-Boe encapsulate the relationship between tangible objects and the written word through the medium of book art.Melhorn-Boe has been making books as a medium of art for more than forty years, drawing from women’s experiences in the political and personal spheres with humour and a light-hearted visual aesthetic to explore more serious feminist and environmental issues. The bookworks featured in this exhibition were inspired by the poetry of Lorna Crozier, Terry Ann Carter, Hazel Hall, Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, Diane Dawber, Alexandra Cussons, and Bronwen Wallace. In imagining and crafting material representations of feminist poetry, Melhorn-Boe reminds us that handmade books, in their plethora of forms, are vessels of humanized content. 
 
A limited number of print catalogues of the exhibition are available, and a corresponding virtual exhibition is online at https://piercecanadiana.omeka.net/exhibits/show/textus-texts-textiles  
 
Curated by:  Brendan Edwards (Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at Queen’s University Library) and Ella Heiss (undergraduate student in HIST212, Experiential Learning in Historical Perspectives, Queen’s University) 
 
W.D. Jordan Rare Books & Special Collections is located on the 2nd Floor of the Douglas Library, Queen’s University, 93 University Avenue, Kingston, Ontario.  Open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm 
 
More information about W.D. Jordan Rare Books & Special Collections: 
https://library.queensu.ca/locations/wd-jordan-rare-books-special-collections  
Instagram: @jordan_library / Call: 613-533-2839 / Email: jordan.library@queensu.ca 
 
More information about the artist, Lise Melhorn-Boe: 
https://lisemelhornboe.ca  
 

 
Photographs by Brendan Edwards.
Example of an art and textiles book from the exhibit.
Dictionary entry for "texto" and "textilis" defining textles.
Example of an art and textiles book from the exhibit.
Book history collaborative project using Angus L. Macdonald library’s Special Collections

Dr. Laura Estill, Associate Professor, English department, and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities, St. Francis Xavier University and Susan Cameron, Special Collections Librarian worked with students in ENGL226: From Tablets to Tablets: Texts and Technologies to produce a catalogue of books chosen from a donation to Special Collections. 

Students worked with uncatalogued material for a class assignment.  They chose two books to explore and presented their findings to the class and wrote catalogue entries which were compiled in a booklet.   This hands-on experience enhanced their understanding of the course objectives, while contributing to the work of the library is a tangible way. 

The project was reported on in the Campus News and served as a promotional event as well.  A digital copy of the booklet is in the institutional repository, and a print copy is catalogued for our main Library.  Students also benefitted from being able to add a writing credit to their CVs. 

 
Photograph by Susan Cameron.
A tablet displaying a QR code and the cover of the collection publication. A printed copy of the publication appears below the tablet.
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