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Artists' Books: Overview

In this guide...

Learn about the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries Artists' Books Collection, find key reference works on artists books, a list of special journal issues on artists' books and  links to book arts centers, libraries and organizations.

There is a plethora of information openly accessible on the web about artists books,  with many images and visual archives such as Artists' Books Online: An online repository of facsimiles, metadata and criticism.
To get a quick look at a vast array of artist book images across the universe, do a Google Image Search on "artists books"

For a list of artists books collections in libraries in the U.S. link to The Directory of Artists' Books Collections

Questions? Contact:

Mo Dawley
Senior Librarian,
Art and Drama Librarian
Art Research Guide
Drama Research Guide
Environment Interdisciplinary Research Guide

Related research guides:
Art and Ecology
Art and Gender
Art: Contemporary Artists

About the Collection

The Artists' Books Collection is housed in the Arts Library and the Fine and Rare Book Room at Hunt Library and now in its third decade of development, currently containing over 1,000 works. The collection has evolved into a viable tool for teaching, research and exhibitions as a component to the curriculums of The College of Fine Arts, BXA and to others across disciplines on campus, locally, regionally and nationally who are drawn to the diversity of ideas, themes and formats characterized by the collection.

Artists' books are sensorial works which transcend the notion of the book as an ordinary medium. The nature of the genre is to inspire a continual process of re-envisioning the sum of our minds, senses, emotions and the  the endless possibilities that result from that experience. As such, artists’ books are manifest in every imaginable (and unimaginable) form and delve into all aspects of life and the human condition. The Carnegie Mellon collection includes works from the exquisitely crafted original to the cheap copy: book sculptures, flip-books, sound works, "virtual installations", matchbooks, books you can't "open", revealing diaries, activist manuals, interactive postcards, and poetic metamorphoses, to name a few. Most of the works date from 1980 to the present, with some prime examples from the 1960s and 1970s.

We collect artists' books from many sources, including individual international artists and established artist book distributors and publishers as well as works by students, faculty and alumni of Carnegie Mellon.

How to find artists' books at CMU

Search the Library Catalog

Search Cameo library catalog Books and More Option
To get a fairly comprehensive list of artists books in the collection search the phrase "artists books" (in quotations).
If you know the name an artist book publisher you can search Cameo by the organization: such as Art Metropole, Lapp Princess Press, Printed Matter, Visual Studies Workshop, Women's Studio Workshop...


Related topics (among many) associated with artists' books are artistic photography, book design, book binding, computer art, conceptual art, diary or diaries, mail art, copy art, Fluxus, illustrated books, narrative art, notebook or notebooks, postcard or postcards, sketchbook or sketchbooks, toy and movable books, book jackets.

Locations in Hunt Library  

Many artists' books are non-circulating and designated with the location SPEC (Fine and Rare Book Room) in the library catalog.  To see or consult about the artists' books or schedule a class, request an appointment.

There are some artists books and books about artists books in the open stacks of the 4th floor of Hunt Library at various locations and call numbers. Open locations will be indicated in the library catalog.

Acqs of Interest

Bryant, Ruth. Scar Study. Portland, OR : Ruth Bryant.
Artists' Books - SPEC-ABS-4 N7433.4 .B779 S337x 2016

A sculptural and textual exploration about the way trauma manifests in the body.

Sligh, Clarissa. Transforming Hate | An Artist's Book. Asheville, North Carolina : Clarissa T. Sligh.
Artists' Books - SPEC-ABS-4 N7433.4 .S54 T73X 2016
A response to a proposal from the Montana Human Rights Network asking artists to make artwork that would "incorporate, respond to, or transform" pages from The White Man's Bible, a white supremecist book.
See a few pages from the artist's website


Hagstrom, F., Koehler, M., & Weisberg, J.  Bravo . Saint Paul, Minneasota: Strong Silent Type Press,
Artists' books SPEC-ABQ-4
N7433.4 .H19 B738X 2016
A visceral book on nuclear weapons testing on the Marshall Islands, Binkin Atoll in 1954 and its effects.


Featured radio series

Paper Cuts
A radio interview series on Clocktower Radio hosted by Christopher Kardambikis exploring the contemporary world of zines and DIY publishing.