Friday, July 27, 2018

Innovation & Program Enrichment Grant Award: Revitalization of Spring Garden Press

Preservation Services Staff are pleased to announce that we have been awarded an Innovation & Program Enrichment (IPE) Grant. The Dean of University Libraries, Martin Halbert, along with his predecessors, has identified restricted funds for innovation and program enrichment here at UNCG Libraries. This year, we have been awarded the IPE Grant for the purpose of revitalizing Spring Garden Press, the imprint of Jackson Library's elegant 19th century Washington Iron Hand Press.

UNCG Libraries' circa 1850s Washington No. 2 Iron Hand Press

Spring Garden Press will be revitalized for the purpose of outreach to the UNCG community as well as the greater Greensboro community. The IPE Grant will provide funding to reinvigorate and enhance Spring Garden Press for regular, recurring programming. It will afford the opportunity to train a group of University Libraries staff to operate the iron hand press so that it can be used for educational and outreach purposes. Such training will allow for integration into various departments' curricula, promotion of assorted holdings in Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA), education of patrons about the history of printing and its evolution over time, demonstrations for special events and library supporters, and provide an opportunity for our digital-native students to experience hands-on traditional letterpress printing, possibly as a method for exploring their own ideas.

The circa 1850s Washington No. 2 Iron Hand Press has been used for class demonstrations periodically over the last 25-30 years that it has resided in the library, most recently under the tutelage of Paul Hessling. Hessling serves as the Special Collections/Chief Monographic Cataloger and is the only staff member at present who is knowledgeable about the operation of our press. The press use has dwindled in recent years for various reasons despite a core group of library staff – Hessling and a number of SCUA staff – being very interested in seeing the press used more often and becoming a more integral part of the department’s offerings and outreach.

Ten SCUA staff have volunteered to be trained by Paul Hessling and Sarah Smith to use the press. As Program Manager of the Book Arts Workshop at Dartmouth College Library, Smith teaches letterpress printing, bookbinding, and other aspects of bookmaking. She works closely with faculty at Dartmouth to create hands-on projects to strengthen the impact of their coursework—and with students and non-students on their extra-curricular projects. In November, with thanks to the IPE Grant Program, Smith will travel to UNCG to conduct a workshop on the Iron Hand Press for SCUA staff.

If you are unfamiliar with iron hand presses, please see the following video of Amelia Fontanel, an Associate Curator at the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection, as she walks you through the process of printing using the Kelmscott/Goudy Albion iron hand press, a similar press to our Washington No. 2 iron hand press.

A core group of our staff will be trained to use the iron hand press for presentations and demonstrations. The goals are to increase faculty collaboration with SCUA in use of the press as well as existing collections and to expand existing partnerships with Guilford County Schools (GCS). We will collaborate with GCS art teachers and students to educate students about printing history, book arts, and SCUA collections and meaningfully tie in with a classroom project.

It is our hope that the revitalization of Spring Garden Press will allow for a sustainable collaboration with GCS, regular, recurring programming with faculty and students, and to leverage the existing talent and expertise of SCUA staff by training them to use the iron hand press both in existing partnerships and in new ones to be determined over time. 

Spring Garden Press will be SCUA’s version of a makerspace by inspiring creativity and new partnerships in the UNCG community and beyond. What's a makerspace? Learn more by clicking HERE.

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