Florida Atlantic University - University Communications

Owl illustration from A Field of Owls, on press with copper plate.

FAU Libraries Unveils One Millionth Book

FAU Libraries celebrates its millionth book with the unveiling of a new, limited edition title, A Field of Owls: The Burrowing Owl Observed, published by FAU Libraries’ fine arts press, “Minerva: the Press at Wimberly.” The handmade book, which features letterpress printing and a specially designed binding, will be on display as part of a related exhibition Sept. 7 through Dec. 11 at the Jaffe Atrium Book Arts Gallery, Wimberly Library on the Boca Raton campus.

"It is unusual for a library to create its own millionth book," said Dr. William Miller, director of FAU Libraries. "However, it is emblematic of this library, with its emphasis on artists’ books and its access to fine book press equipment, plus the a staff that is talented in the craft of letterpress printing. Most libraries spend thousands of dollars for a first edition of some rare book for this kind of event."

FAU’s Book Arts Coordinator John Cutrone, working with Arthur Jaffe, curator of the FAU Libraries’ “Arthur and Mata Jaffe Collections: Books as Aesthetic Objects,” created a special artistic and aesthetic publication of A Field of Owls using letterpress printing and special bookbinding. “The printing process is centuries old in the tradition of fine book making, with everything being done by hand – the paper is made by hand; the book is printed and bound by hand. The printing is three-dimensional relief printing, wherein the type is embossed into the paper. This differs dramatically from digital and offset printing,” says Cutrone.

John Cutrone at the press during
production of
A Field of Owls.

The book was printed by John Cutrone and FAU Libraries’ Collections Specialist Seth Thompson at the studios of Convivio Bookworks in Lake Worth. Original pen-and-ink illustrations were created by Terri Berns, a local artist who is also FAU Libraries’ director of communications and cultural affairs. The limited edition of 100 copies was printed on Twinrocker handmade paper and bound by hand by Paula Marie Gourley at Lilyhouse Studio Editions, Eugene, Ore.

Copy number one was specially bound and boxed by Gourley, and includes the original copper plate engraving used to print the owl illustration. The millionth volume to be added to the collection of Florida Atlantic University Libraries, it will be placed in the Arthur and Mata Jaffe Collection at the Wimberly Library.

President Frank T. Brogan notes in the book’s forward, “How appropriate that the millionth book to be added to Florida Atlantic University’s extensive library collection is a small but important volume devoted to a small but important subject: the burrowing owl. …The owls are often called “feisty,” and this can also be said of FAU, which has grown from a small local institution to a multi-campus university….Owls are renowned for their wisdom, an image that fits the University well….FAU is proud to claim the tough little bird described in these pages as its own.”

One of the writers whose thoughts on the owl are presented in the book observes, "as I drive past their burrows, I slow down, and when the fields are cropped low, we regard each other. More often than not, it's me who looks away first. I'm the one just passing through."

For additional information about the book and related exhibition or to purchase a limited edition owl print, please contact the Jaffe Collection at (561) 297- 0226 or jcutrone@fau.edu.





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