One Book, Many Interpretations Collection

Dates: 2006-2011
Size: 5.5 linear feet in 4 boxes and 17 bound volumes
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: spe.l00191
Immediate Source of Acquisition: Purchased by Chicago Public Library, 2006, 2011
Conditions Governing Access: Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use: Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.
Preferred Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: One Book, Many Interpretations Collection [accession number], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Finding Aid Author: Rachel Esser, 2022


This collection consists of 21 artist books and fine bindings that were displayed at two juried bookbinding exhibits—One Book, Many Interpretations in 2006 and One Book, Many Interpretations: Second Edition in 2011—coinciding with the fifth and tenth anniversaries of Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago program. The books, each drawing inspiration from a previous One Book, One Chicago selection, represent a wide range of styles, from traditional fine bindings to conceptual artist books.


The One Book, One Chicago program, launched by the Chicago Public Library in the fall of 2001 with To Kill a Mockingbird, encourages Chicago residents to read and discuss the same book at the same time. The goal of One Book, One Chicago is to cultivate a culture of reading and discussion in Chicago by bringing the city together around a great piece of literature.

On the fifth and tenth anniversaries of the program, bookbinders and book artists were invited to participate in a juried exhibition: One Book, Many Interpretations in 2006 and One Book, Many Interpretations: Second Edition in 2011. Entrants interpreted one of the past One Book, One Chicago titles through the art of binding, and were evaluated by three experts in bookbinding and book arts. The 2006 exhibit featured bindings from the first ten selections and the 2011 exhibit, the next ten selections; each exhibit showcased approximately 50 artistic bindings. A “Best Binding” award was issued to one interpretation of each of the 20 titles.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 21 books displayed in the One Book, Many Interpretations exhibits representing 16 One Book, One Chicago titles. Of the 21 bindings in the collection, 14 were recipients of the Best Binding award. Stylistically, the books range in scope from traditional fine bindings to conceptual artist books. Descriptions of each book, provided by the binders, can be found in the collection inventory below.


Items are arranged alphabetically by binder name.

Related Materials

  • Chicago Public Library Archives

Subject Terms

  • Artist books
  • Bookbinding
  • Chicago Public Library
  • One Book, One Chicago
  • Public Libraries – Cultural Programs – Illinois – Chicago

Collection Inventory

2022.27 Adelman, Cathy Night, Elie Wiesel Sewn on five dyed parchment strips laced into boards. Black endpapers; graphite edge; sewn silk endbands. Covered in parchment, allowing the image of barbed wire to show through; leather label with foil title. Matching slipcase. 2006
2022.28 Dowd, Lesa Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri Modified Bradel binding sewn on five frayed cords. Decorative Unyru endsheets silkscreened with Mehndi design. Top edge colored with acrylic and gauffered with gold. Sewn silk endbands. Mustard yellow goatskin covers; orange goatskin spine. Woven leather onlays. Hand-tooled in blind and gold foil. 2006


Box 3

Ellis, Elsi Vassdal The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien Altered textblock sewn on frayed flax cords; boards covered with an Army green fabric as a scaled down interpretation of an Army soldier’s standard shirt with pockets and standard insignia. Separate spine piece covered by ink jet-printed Photoshop illustration. Red Waste Not paper endsheets. Dog tag book title. Exterior cigar-style box covered in Asahi Black Mohair book cloth. Twenty-four interior boxes covered with Canson Mi-Tientes Ivy. 2006
2022.30 Esser, Mark The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City, Carl Smith Bound in full goatskin with goatskin doublures; tooled in blind and gold; double core silk endbands; full gilt edges. The leaves of the text are joined into sections with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste; sewn on Ramieband tapes; flexi-endpapers of green Moriki. 2011
2022.31 Fox, Gabrielle My Antonia, Willa Cather Original text divided into the five books and the introduction. Each of the six volumes sewn in variations of the multi-pamphlet style with silk thread and bound separately in paper or cloth-covered cases. Cloth-covered box with a red leather handle. 2006
2022.32 Ingalls, C. Lang A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry Full-leather doublures and endpapers; colored top edge; embroidered silk endbands. Bound in full leather goatskin in the French technique. Onlays in chagrin leather with a back cover wrinkle. Hand-tooled title in soot. 2006
2022.33 Johnston, Peggy The Ox-Bow Incident, Walter Van Tilburg Clark l964 hardcover perfect-bound book removed from its original cover and recovered. Indigo Cave paper endsheets. Leather toggle and loop closure. Blind-tooled dots and lines; title formed of bent wire, placed on wet Harmatan goatskin, and run through an etching press. 2006
2022.34 Kellar, Scott One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Sewn over four stranded cords; marbled end sheets, edges trimmed and colored; red silk endbands. Covered in goatskin with leather and paper onlays; foil stamping. 2006
2022.35 Lallier, Monique My Antonia, Willa Cather Double-fan glued spine; paste paper endpapers by the binder. Full-leather flatback, free-spine binding allowing a full opening. Lines and dots tooled with soot, gold and blind. 2006
2022.36 Leutz, Pamela, The Coast of Chicago, Stuart Dybek Double fan adhesive construction; endpapers of oil marbled paper (done by binder); leather headbands. Case-bound covering of gold marbled silk (done by binder); sewn wire design, gold tooling; embedded magnets in front and back covers and in dust jacket/chemise. 2006
2022.37 Lombardi, Celine The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros Full goatskin covering with gold tooling; multi-colored lokta endpapers; leather endbands. Edge decoration in gold and palladium. Boards attached with extended cloth lining. 2011
2022.38 Metz, Barbara Lazarus The Coast of Chicago, Stuart Dybek Original hardback book removed from case, disbound and all pages guarded with Japanese paper to make 10 sections. Each section sewn into valley of concertina of binder’s marbled paper which becomes pastedown when book is re-cased in original boards and dust jacket. Watercolor creates the ‘coast of Chicago’ on opened book papers. Drop spine box covered in book cloth with inset of dust jacket image printed on color transparency over marbled paper. 2006
2022.39 Nies, Sabina U. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Former paperback, signatures sewn together with a standard sewing machine; text block sewn on cords. Shirting paste paper flyleaves by artist; graphite top edge; leather headbands. Full leather case binding of Harmatan goat leather with sanded onlay, blind and foil-tooled title and decorations. 2006
2022.40 Otto, Sara Loosen To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee Book separated into Parts I & II as directed by author. Curwen Press endpapers; two-color leather endbands. Red and orange leather cover with bird image spanning across covers of both books. 2006


Box 4

Pettit, Gabriela Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman Canvas, paper, book board, wire, metal bolts sections from Erector set, shell, plastic grates. 2011
2022.42 Pullman, Jana Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Sewn on linen tapes with split boards and a hollow back. Hand-marbled endleaves; brown and green silk endbands. Covered in full brown goatskin with dyed panel on front and

back; tooled with gold leaf.

2022.43 Stout, Betsey U. In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez Bound in full black goat leather with hand-sewn embroidery done with silk thread. Edge decoration on all three edges with acrylic paint; hand-sewn silk thread headbands. Gold-tooled title and covers. 2006
2022.44 Strother, Kathy A Mercy, Toni Morrison Case binding with flap to represent an iron gate. Book board and museum board coated with graphite and shellac mixture. Hand painted image of young girl in acrylic on font cover behind gate (flap). Cloth spine and fore-edge. Title and author’s name heat stamped in red foil on spine. Hand marbled endpapers by Eva van Breugel of Holland. Gouache sprinkled edges; writing from the story impressed on back cover with stylus. 2011


Box 2

Sward, Marilyn The Ox-Bow Incident, Walter Van Tilburg Clark

Original volume bound and walnut dyed;

handmade paper covers and endsheets. Dyed leather spine with silver and leather embellishment; pop-up inset with silver ornaments, rope, cards and handmade paper. Band-saw box made from a Maine Cedar tree stump



Box 1

Tapley, James To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee Sewn on tapes and forwarded as a Brockman Rigid Concave Spine binding; edge-to-edge doublures of studio-made gold dust paper; Japanese Chirogami flyleaves; gilt and colored top edge. Covered in two colors of Harmatan goatskin; the brown on the spine puckered, the red on the boards tooled in gold and carbon to a stylized bird pattern. Front cover design mirrored but inverted on back cover. Book box carved of basswood, covered in pasted torn paper, and painted with acrylic colors. Associated toys purchased and found. 2006
2022.47 Wonzy, Constance Brooklyn, Colm Tóibín Case binding using blue goatskin leather with water colored edges on the textblock. Silk sewn headbands; feathered leather onlays for the flowers; onlays in leather for the tree, picket fence and title. Marbled paper endsheets by Payhembury Marbled Papers. 2011
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