October 2009 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Book Museums

Last week, an email popped up in my inbox that contained a 15-minute video tour of the Bienes Museum of the Modern Book (in Fort Lauderdale, FL). For some reason, putting the word "museum" with the word "book" sends my brain off toward a memory of a cartoon I saw - in the New Yorker, perhaps? - that depicts two futuristic museum-goers puzzling over an object in an exhibit case, until one of them says, "I think it's a book."


I was intrigued enough to watch the whole video, which was pretty cool. It showcases both the collection and the facility. So you can see books and objects from the museum's strongest collections: ABC books, pop-up books, comics, books created by WPA writers and Florida writers. You also can tour around the reading room, exhibit space and vault. What impressed me most was how the video producers thought to include the behind-the-scenes processes, such as cataloging and preservation.


Is there a difference between a "museum" and a special collections department or library? There doesn't seem to be many book "museums," in the U.S. Even the other three that come to mind have a slightly different focus. I invite readers to add to my list.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art

The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums