Troy University’s English department is currently hosting the Miniature Book Society’s traveling miniature book exhibit.
The display, containing approximately 50 books and designed “to promote knowledge of miniature books,” as stated by its website, is located on the second floor of Smith Hall outside the English department office.
Ben Robertson, an English professor, first encountered miniature books when he visited the Boston Public Library several years back.
“I went to a miniature book exhibit in St. Petersburg, Russia, about four years ago,” Robertson said. “I walked in the room, and it was just microscopes all around the room … And you could look through and actually read them.”
He began collecting miniature books as a personal hobby. When he found out about the Miniature Book Society’s traveling exhibit, he emailed the organization requesting that it be brought to Troy University.
The miniature books on display vary in nature: nursery rhymes, haikus, miniature card deck accompanied by a card trick book, religious texts, a multilingual etiquette book and much more.
These books are sold, with the price ranging from $10 to several thousand dollars.
Best-sellers include the Bible, other religious texts and books with pornographic content.
Miniature books are made in various places around the world, professionally crafted with tiny binding and lettering.
While sizes vary, according to the Miniature Book Society’s website the United States’ considers miniature books to be no more than 3 inches in height, width or thickness. In other parts of the world, books may be up to 4 inches.
During a forum Robertson hosted Wednesday, Nov. 16, about the Miniature Book Exhibit, Robertson said there are books now that are so small that if someone were to blow on one, you could lose it.
Todd Summerfield of Cleveland, Ohio, is a member of the Miniature Book Society who oversees the movement of the exhibit around the states.
Summerfield has a personal collection of miniature books. He also writes articles for the society’s newsletter and “The Microbibliophile,” a journal about miniature books.
Summerfield had the privilege of meeting Ruth Adomeit, one of the society’s charter members, in the 1980s.
“I got to talking with her, and that sparked an interest,” Summerfield stated.
She is the original owner of today’s largest collection of miniature books. Upon her death in 1996, Ruth Adomeit willed the collection, now containing over 17,000 volumes, to the Lilly Library.
The library, which is located on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, is a large rare book and manuscript library.
“I like tiny books, and I cannot lie,” said Bethany Davis, senior communication major from Troy and miniature book enthusiast.
“I think it’s really neat just to, like, make it more obscure because a lot of people love books,” Davis said, “but I think the concept of loving tiny books means, like, you actually love the culture of it.”
She said her love of tiny books started when she saw Robertson carrying around a miniature version of “Macbeth” and begin reading it with a magnifying glass.
“It was just, like, the dorkiest thing ever, and I instantly was, like, ‘I need this in my life,’ ” Davis said.
“Honestly, I hadn’t heard about miniature books before the exhibit came,” said Wesley Ralph, a freshman English major from Alabaster. “It’s really fascinating to see how creative and passionate people are.
“Not only does an enthusiastic group of people exist around this, but it took a very unique brand of ingenuity to come up with this kind of portable library. I’m definitely a fan now.”
The Miniature Book Society, founded in 1983 by Miriam Irwin, is a nonprofit organization with worldwide membership. It provides many services, including a newsletter that is published three times annually and a competition to recognize the talents of those in miniature book making.
They also provide a grant to students seeking study of miniature books, providing opportunity for students to travel for their research. Those interested should visit the website, www.mbs.org.