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Artists' Books in Special Collections

Artists' Books in Special Collections

Special Collections collects artists’ books, livres des artistes, and fine illustrated books.   Most of these holdings are cataloged in the Rare Book Collection; however, a few are located in the Closed Collection.  Complementary materials can be found in the Press Ephemera Collection.

This guide contains highlights and does not represent the entirety of the holdings.  The following search headings can be used to locate artists’ books in the MERLIN library catalog.

What is an artist's book?

An artist's book is a work of art in book form.  Artists' books can take on many different structures, and some challenge our idea of what types of objects can constitute a book. They may take on the form of sculptural objects or be bound as more conventional books are. A livre d'artiste in the French tradition is a conventionally-bound book that features illustrations or other design elements by an artist. Usually the prints in livres des artistes are original - either printed by the artist herself or pulled directly from the woodblock, plate, or other printing method. 

There is a lot of overlap among artists' books, livres des artistes, and fine press materials. Be sure to check out our guide to fine press books in Special Collections as well.

About Special Collections


The Division of Special Collections is located on the fourth floor west of Ellis Library, the main library for the Columbia campus. More information

Using Special Collections

Special Collections provides a variety of services to MU students, faculty and staff. Services are available to all researchers and scholars not affiliated with the University of Missouri as well. Get started