Project Researcher: Physical Accessibility in Book Arts | Center For Book Arts

Applications are now open for Project Researcher: Physical Accessibility in Book Arts. 

Key Dates: 

Mar 30, 2023: Applications close

April 2023: Researcher selected

June-August 2023: Researcher will work with CBA’s Librarian to design and implement research process (e.g. conducting charrettes for individuals with varying physical needs and abilities to engage with book art from CBA’s Collection)

Sept-Dec 2023: Researcher prepares findings for dissemination and publication

The project researcher will be awarded a stipend of $3,500 and have access to a $2,500 project budget.

Project Details: 

The materiality and physical experience of the book is a central part of what they are interested in at Center for Book Arts (CBA). But how does the physical experience of books differ for people across lines of physical ability? Center for Book Arts seeks a Project Researcher to help them consider what affordances book art and the book arts offer for people with a range of abilities—and what design features might offer further affordances. In particular, they are asking: What is the physical experience of artists’ books for people with mobility or fine motor limitations? 

Center for Book Arts is proud to call its Fine Art Collection a “teaching library,” meaning visitors and students can touch, handle, and turn the pages of CBA’s collection of over 3,000 artists’ books and zines. They seek to expand their understanding of the Collection and its uses, by assessing what makes a book better suited for handling by audiences with various needs. They seek to understand, and promote awareness of, the physical experience of the book, with a particular interest in how physical and fine motor abilities influence experience of the physicality of artists’ books.

The Project Researcher will be tasked with designing a research procedure, conducting research, and analyzing the findings, with the support of Center for Book Arts’ Librarian. The research process should ideally include participatory research that engages individuals across lines of ability with different items from CBA’s Collections; identifying and engaging such research communities/participants will also be the responsibility of the Researcher.

This research will inform the creation of a set of “best practice” guidelines and/or a research guide (i.e. bibliography) that explore what affordances and limitations various book objects present. These guidelines would not only be of service to practicing book artists seeking to make their work accessible, but also help all staff at CBA to understand how to think about welcoming scholars and visitors with a range of abilities to their Collections and galleries. These guidelines would also be shared with colleagues at other book art centers and relevant special collections, through a publication, a permanent page on Center for Book Arts’ website, and presentation at conferences such as ARLIS. 

The goal of this project—positioned at the intersection of design research, critical disability studies, and art history—is to serve artists, artists’ book audiences, and librarians in, respectively, creating accessible artworks, accessing CBA’s fine arts collections, and identifying works in their collection that would be most accessible and engaging, and in strategically acquiring/curating books that are broadly accessible.

They acknowledge that this project is just one part of their organization’s efforts to become more accessible to artists and audiences with a range of needs and abilities, and look forward to learning alongside their community in this effort.

This project is supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

To apply, please submit your CV and a brief (two page) proposal describing your relevant experience and how you would envision carrying out this project.

Application Instructions:

Submissions must be made through the application portal:

Applications must include a resume/CV and cover letter.


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