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Posts tagged ‘centennial’

100 years is a long time

Last week, on December 12, 2012, Laura Sorvetti and I went to San Francisco to join the Book Club of California in celebrating 100 years. Since its founding in 1912 the Book Club of California (BCC) has printed fine editions focusing on California history and literature. It was started by a group of book collectors, sellers, scholars, writers, printers and entrepreneurs. It was a fun field trip!

Laura recently joined The Book Club of California; first as a member, then as a director on the board. She said that for a long time she had admired the organization from afar, but then after working with Catherine Trujillo on the Pressing Forward exhibit last spring, she was ready to jump right in and get involved. Laura said, “The first time I visited the club rooms on Sutter Street and met many of the gracious and passionate members, I couldn’t express how excited I was: “I found printing-book people like me!”"

The celebration was held in the Julia Morgan Ballroom at the Merchants Exchange Building. Many were dressed in period garb. I loved looking out at the sea of hats and imagining that I was visiting another era, an era when they served poached celery as an appetizer…

Photo of BCC Centennial  Menu



















Here’s more from Laura:

Any Californian who makes it to their 100th birthday is in pretty good shape. The Book Club, on their hundredth-year birthday, is still remarkably young, and it is the members who maintain that youthful and passionate character. Even at the centennial luncheon, a time for reflection and maybe a pat on the back for making it this far, the invited speakers were already planning for the next hundred years. While they acknowledged the importance of continuing the traditions of The Book Club, they are considering how we can gracefully move into the 21st century future, participating in the continued history of the book & fine printing in California. Smart move, sustainably speaking. I am looking forward to contributing to the next century’s work.

And just think: in another hundred years they’ll be telling the story of our historic luncheon.

As part of the centennial celebration, Kennedy Library hosted an exhibit about the BCC called Pressing Forward. You can learn more about opening reception — Tom Killion talking about his woodcut process, Erin Zamrzla showing us how to make handmade books — in an earlier post.

It’s a hit! Pressing Forward exhibit opens

At the outset of planning an event it sometimes feels the day will never come. When it does, it is almost unbelievable. It’s happening! It’s all coming together! And it did, on April 5, when months of collaborative hard work between Special Collections and University Archives with the Book Club of California resulted in a bustling opening celebration for Pressing Forward: The Book Club of California at 100. Highlights included a talk by woodcut artist Tom Killion, the announcement of Book Collection Competition winners and a Science Cafe centered around bookbinding.

You can see the exhibit on the 2nd floor in the Learning Commons, which also includes photographs of members with their personal libraries. Visit our exhibit pages if you’d like to learn more.

BCC Centennial Keepsake by Bryn HobsonCollaborators collaborating
Kennedy Library’s Catherine Trujillo and Peter Runge, along with a group of student collaborators, made it happen. Art and Design student Bryn Hobson had the honor of making the Centennial Keepsake for the event (left). His installation “Flight,” is a magical part of the exhibit that has floating pages ascending to the sky. See more photos of his work at the exhibit on

Whenever I spoke to Cate or Peter about the exhibit, I sensed it was a labor of love. At different points they headed to BCC’s hub in San Francisco to get to better know the people and the organization (and possibly the coolest headquarters for bibliophiles ever), worked with local collectors on documenting their libraries and launched a Book Collection Competition. Phew!

Talk by woodcut artist Tom Killion

Tom Killion, whose work has been featured in the BCC gallery among many others, was the featured speaker. He talked us through the stories of his woodblock prints: the inspiration he finds outside in Northern California, who he’s hiking with when he stops to make sketches that inform his woodblocks and how his artistic process works. Here is an excerpt from his talk that focuses on the how-to of Japanese woodblock art:

Winners of the Book Collection Competition

The opening celebration also recognized the winners of the first annual Book Collection Competition! Collected themes included illustrated horse novels of the 1970s and literature of the American West.

Stitched! Science Cafe

Earlier in the day, bookbinder and author of At Home with Handmade Books, Erin Zamrzla, drew a crowd of eager crafters who she led in a hands-on bookbinding experiment. She crafted individual packets of materials for everyone that included a how-to guide (which doubled as a folded envelope), needle, thread and recycled materials that became pages of a book. There was spontaneous applause when everyone realized she had handmade one for each of them!

Here’s a short video overview of Stitched!

See photos from the opening celebration on Flickr.
See photos of Stitched! Science Cafe on Flickr.

More about Tom Killion.
More about Erin Zamrzla.

– Karen Lauritsen

Hurry! Enter our Book Collection Competition!

Do you love books? So do we! As part of our very exciting spring exhibit, Pressing Forward: The Book Club of California at 100 we’re holding a Book Collection Competition.You’re invited to enter!

UPDATE: The 2012 winners have been announced!

First, do you know about the Book Club of California? They are awesome! Founded in 1912 they are a “a non-profit organization of book lovers and collectors who have a special interest in Pacific Coast history, literature, and fine printing.” You can learn more about them on the BCC website, which includes photos of warm and inviting reading spaces and libraries that can be found at their San Francisco location.

Second, as a potential winner of the Book Collection Competition, you may receive a one-year membership to the venerable Book Club of California, as well as the chance to have your loved books included in our exhibit at Cal Poly.

What’s involved? A photo of at least seven of your thematically related books and a short write-up. And a simple form for our records. So, if you’re like my uncle who was totally into collecting anything by or about Jack London, get out your camera and snap a photo. Or maybe you’re a music lover with a dozen books on jazz? Ponies? The solar system?

Read more about how to enter at Kennedy Library. The deadline is February 23.

Oh! Also, as part of the exhibit extravaganza, mark your calendars for April 5. That’s when we’ll host the opening reception and talk with a very special guest (stay tuned) as well as an interactive Science Cafe on Japanese Bookbinding with expert bookbinder Erin Zamrzla.