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Artists' Books: Overview

In this guide...

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

  • For a list of artists books collections in libraries in the U.S. link to 


  • To get a quick look at a vast array of artist book images across the universe, do a Google Image Search on "artists books"

Questions? Contact:

Mo Dawley
Senior Librarian,
Art and Drama Librarian

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.
    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.

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.