UI Libraries bind 10,000-page, two-foot thick book of poetry

The University of Iowa Libraries now has a massive volume of poetry in its collection, a 100-volume work of 10,000 pages of poetry, measuring two feet thick.

The book, “Poetry City Marathon” was written by Iowa City poet Dave Morice (aka Dr. Alphabet) during a 100-day poetry marathon this summer. The marathon was a highlight of an UI Main Library exhibit from July to October 2010 about the history of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Actualist Poetry Movement.  The full text of the book and is at http://iowacitypoetrymarathon.com/index.html.

Sponsored by Sackter House Media in Iowa City, the book was made as part of the celebration of Iowa City being named a City of Literature by UNESCO. The final text of 10,119, 8 1/2 by 11-inch pages was printed out by Bu Wilson and bound by Bill Voss of the UI Libraries Preservation Department. 

Nancy Kraft, head of the Preservation Department, said it was no small task to bind a 10,000-page book. It usually takes about three hours to bind a 200-page book, but “Poetry City Marathon” took 24 hours to bind, spread over four days with a half day devoted to making a special press to put all the pages together.

“You can’t get your hands around all 10,000 pages at once so the book needs to be assembled into smaller units and then bound together using a specially constructed press to hold everything in place, nicely squared up, until the book text block is dry,” she explained.

Kraft added that the book must be supported while reading, which can be done by using blocks to support the “shorter” side and adjusted as the reader turns the page.

Now that the work is complete, Preservation staff and Morice are considering submitting “Poetry City Marathon” to the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s thickest book.
For more details and photos of the binding process, see http://blog.lib.uiowa.edu/preservation/.