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Preparing to Move the Archive

A good friend will help you move some books, but a true friend will help you move 60,000.

Hey, can we borrow your truck?

Earlier this week, special guest Amos Kennedy Jr. visited the Archive while we were examining our largest books to prep for the move.

We’re so excited to move into our new home, because once we’re all settled in, we’ll be able to better serve our community — you! When most people think about moving, cardboard boxes and packing tape dance in their heads. But to move an archive, we’ll need more than bubble wrap, Sharpies, and trash bags.

Highlights from the collection of foundry type specimens.
Saul Bass, packaging for Ohio Match Co., 1965.

We have hundreds of books in fragile condition that have to move with us! We have amazing volunteers who are vacuuming our bound type specimens while sorting out the pieces that need to be repaired, tied, sleeved, or boxed. Our collection of brand identity manuals will require custom, made-to-order boxes. Countless books in our reference library are being wrapped in mylar. And we’re working to sleeve our most fragile posters and flat materials. We’ll also need to specially pack all three-dimensional objects, such as our Saul Bass match tins and Jiří Kolář pear.

We thought we’d share with you some of the hard work that goes into moving an archive by introducing you to one of the most monumental pieces in our collection:

Kate Long (Librarian) and our newest team member Sally Beale (Development Associate) weigh and measure the antiphonal for transport.

This is an 18th-century antiphonal — a book of music meant to be read by a liturgical choir from a distance. It’s 30 × 24 inches and weighs 50 pounds. It’s also covered in decorative metal studs that make it dangerous to store with other delicate books. We can’t weight wait to move it.

Kate and Sally are joined by Kel Troughton (Type West instructor), Amos Kennedy Jr. (visiting guest), April Harper (Photographer), and Nurullah Gokdogan (Type West student).

This book will need to be vacuumed, cleaned, repaired, and stored in a padded box before the move. The box is a custom order. The antiphonal is just one of the thousands of items that will need special care in the journey to their new home.

Jiří Kolář, Red Pear, 1969.

Over the last six months we’ve been converting a former office space into the ideal environment for the Archive — its collection, educational programming, events, and team. Every decision we make — whether it’s about flat-file engineering or paint color — is about building the best possible home for the material, and the most welcoming and inspiring space for you, our community.

We hope this excites you as much as it does us, but we can’t do it without you! Any amount helps prepare fragile objects for transport, hire professional library movers, and keep the lights on. The mighty antiphonal thanks you — and so do we!

P.S. To learn more about donating to Letterform Archive, email our new development associate, Sally.