LIFE

Take A Reading Break At The Tiniest Library You Can Imagine

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Looking for a little literature?

If you mean little in the very literal sense, then you need to check out the Willis Library at the University of North Texas (UNT), which houses a truly fantastic collection of miniature books, all measuring less than four inches tall.

And what’s more, there are almost 3,000 of them  we bet you never knew miniature books were so popular!

Miniature books are defined as being under four inches tall. But other than their tiny size, they’re just like “real” books, with printed pages, binding, and covers. UNT houses thousands of them, some dating back thousands of years!

Books are timeless and darling all the time, but there’s something especially wonderful about tiny books, like this artist’s fun and quirky handmade books.

The university’s tiny book collection began in the 1930s, after some miniature children’s books were donated. Since then, the library has continued collecting mini books, and the collection has become one of its many treasures.

Check out the Willis Library’s collection below, and let us know what you think in the comments!

[H/T: Twisted Sifter]

The miniature books in Willis Library’s collection come from all over the world, and are written in many languages.

Some are gifts, and some are purchased with library funds. The collection is incredibly diverse, and holds thousands of years’ worth of history, all in mini size!

The oldest miniatures are two tiny clay tablets that date back some 4,000 years. There’s also a handwritten leaf from a tiny 15th-century manuscript, and the oldest printed book is from 1521.

The book seen here is Rural Amusements, or, The History of Billy and Kitty, which dates from the 1790s.

The cover of Rural Amusements has been worn, but inside, you can still see these incredible engraved illustrations. The story tells of Billy and his badly behaved sister, Kitty, and serves as a morality tale.

This storybook about Adam and Eve dates from the early 19th century, and was one of several religious-themed miniature books put out by the American Sunday School Union.

It featured color illustrations, and a simple retelling of the biblical story, along with a moral about listening to your parents.

Printed in 1891, the aptly named Mite was, at the time, the smallest book in the world printed with moveable type. It features a variety of historical and scientific facts, as well as illustrations.

It’s now only the second-smallest book printed with moveable type, as an Italian book stole the title in 1896.

Mite features proverbs, facts, and images, all inside a book the size of a quarter.

It even gives some history on printing, the technology that made this tiny book possible!

Miniature calendar books were popular in the early 20th century, and the library houses many, from the early 1900s through the 1940s.

This 1903 calendar is unique in that it serves a double purpose. Besides being a calendar, it also has some wax paper pocket pages where postage stamps could be stored.

Tiffany & Co. put out this beautiful little 1910 calendar.

These mini booklets detail how rationing worked for U.S. families during World War II.

Interestingly, the collection also includes a number of propaganda books from Nazi Germany, as well as a mini copy of Mao’s Little Red Book, showing that even miniature books could get political.

There are also plenty of fairly modern books from the late 20th and 21st centuries, like this one on atoms.

Some of these modern books, like this one on plants, feature bright illustrations.

However, other modern books, like this one, take a more artistic approach. Though it was created in the 1960s, this book of sayings and proverbs is designed to look like a medieval manuscript.

It even has the illuminations you’d see on a handwritten manuscript.

And while miniature books might seem like an antiquated art form, they’re still produced today. This book, which features a poem inside, was created in 2005.

There are many more mini books in the library’s collection, and you can check them out on the collection’s website, as well as on Willis Library’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

And if you know anyone who loves books and tiny things, be sure to SHARE this remarkable collection with them!