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Photo showing Dartmouth's Book Arts Workshop

Hello there!

During my senior spring, I've been making an effort to try out more things around campus before I leave. It is so easy to take things for granted when you are rushing through school, especially at a school with a quarter system like Dartmouth. While stopping to smell the roses is something I've had some trouble with in the past, I've been a lot better this term and have actually tried a lot more activities just for and by myself!

One example is going to the Book Arts Workshop located on the lower level in Baker Library. I had heard of the workshop in the past, alongside the other ones scattered around campus such as the jewelry studio and our woodshop. However, I'd never quite had the time to visit. This past term, one of my extracurricular activities paid a visit to the space to try out typesetting and printing out poems that we'd written. This was great motivation and I've gone back on my own twice since then!


Photos show a group of students surrounding an instructor at the Dartmouth Book Arts Workshop
I visited the Book Arts Workshop for the first time with the Eichler Fellows, a group of students interested in medical humanities and pre-health careers. We had been working on poems throughout the year and were able to print a couple lines from our works using the press! I soon learned exactly why books used to be so expensive and reserved for the upper class—though a fun activity, printing something the traditional way is very time intensive.


The Book Arts Workshop is equipped to help students learn about anything regarding the traditional process of bookmaking, whether that be book binding, printing and typesetting, and anything in-between. They have open hours most days of the week. During these times, students can drop in and use the materials to create anything, free-of-charge. They have both staff and student workers there during these times to help where needed.

Additionally, the workshop often has activities throughout the week. If you are less familiar with the machines and would like someone to guide you step-by-step through the process, you can sign up for these events on the library's website. I have made an accordion book and printed my own graduation announcements through these tutorials! They're also a great way to meet other people and form a little community. Sarah Smith runs the operation as the Program Manager and is always extremely helpful; by your second visit there, she'll most likely remember your name, where she saw you last, and what you were working on! 

There is something extremely satisfying about using a letterpress and working with your hands for a couple hours, so I would highly recommend any students to go at least once during their time at Dartmouth. Print a poem, your graduation announcements, or even invitations to a party! One can even email the Workshop to ask if they can host an event for your club or a group of friends; the sky is the limit. It is rare to have access to such a wide variety of activities and resources post-college, and I am grateful that I have the time now (especially post-COVID) to try everything and make the most of my remaining weeks here.

If you ever go, I like the fonts Park Avenue and Bulmer Italic!

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