Book Collecting Clubs & Bibliographic Societies
Book collectors tend to hunt on their own, but there are few things finer than meeting other bibliophiles. Book collecting clubs and bibliographic societies can offer meetings, lectures or seminars, libraries, and even publish books.
When deciding which club to approach remember the scope, and seriousness, of each club differs and some are aimed at general lovers of books while others are aimed at high-end collectors. It is best to conduct research and find the club that is right for you.
Most of the bibliographic clubs listed below are regional but some are national or global organizations aimed at promoting the collection of specific type such as miniature books or manuscripts. Additioanlly many of the North America clubs belong to a larger overseeing body called the Fellowship of American Bibliographic Societies (FABS); this organization acts as a hub for all of the regional societies helping to promote their activities and organize national events.
North American Book Clubs and Societies
Founded in 1965 Vancouver, Canada, the Alcuin Society is the only non-profit organization in Canada dedicated to the entire range of spectrum related to books and reading.
The UCLA Department of Information Studies puts together a series of weeklong courses on various rare book topics such as cataloguing, preservation stewardship of library collections, processes of illustration to 1900, and many more. Admission requires a statement of purpose and you may be required to submit qualifications or curriculum vitae before being accepted.
Founded in 1930, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Ampersand Club fosters appreciation for the historic and artistic importance of the printed book, and for the arts essential to book production, such as typography, fine printing, binding, papermaking and book design.
The City of Baltimore’s premier meeting point for book enthusiasts. With formal meetings nine times a year, the group is a forum for invited speakers on the finer points of book appreciation, particularly collecting and the book arts.
The oldest scholarly society in North America dedicated to the study of books and manuscripts. It was organized in 1904 with the principal objectives of promoting bibliographical research and issuing bibliographical publications. These objectives have been accomplished through a broad array of activities, including meetings, lectures, and fellowship programs, as well as the publishing of books and the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America journal. The Society is open to all those interested in bibliographical projects, and its membership includes bibliographers, librarians, professors, students, and collectors worldwide. Libraries are welcome as institutional members.
The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia was founded in 1947 at the University in Charlottesville in order to promote interest in books and manuscripts, maps, printing, the graphic arts, and bibliography and textual criticism. The Society has produced about 175 separate publications.
The Bibliographical Society of Canada/La Société bibliographique du Canada is a bilingual (English/French) organization that has as its goal the scholarly study of the history, description, and transmission of texts in all media and formats, with a primary emphasis on Canada.
The Book Arts Guild was formed in Seattle in 1979 to support the diverse disciplines of the book arts and is dedicated to promoting all hand bookmaking crafts and contemporary book artists including bookbinders and conservators, papermakers, paper decorators, printers, typographers, calligraphers, and artists who create images through printmaking, painting and photography. Members include makers of books, teachers and students, collectors, librarians, book sellers, publishers and book artists.
Founded in 1912, the BCC is a non-profit organization of book lovers and collectors who have a special interest in Pacific Coast history, literature, and fine printing. The Club is limited to 1,000 members, excluding student members. When vacancies exist, membership is open to all who are in sympathy with its aims and whose applications are approved by the Board of Directors. Learn more about the Book Club of California.
The Book Club of Washington, founded in 1982, is a non-profit organization of book lovers and collectors who have a special interest in collecting and preserving printed materials. Its mission is to further the interests of collectors and scholars, and to promote an understanding and appreciation of fine books.
The Caxton Club was founded in 1895 by 15 Chicago bibliophiles who wanted to support the publication of fine books in the spirit of the prevailing Arts and Crafts Movement.
CBAS is a non-profit organization comprised of professionals and amateurs from all quarters of the book, paper and printing arts - bookbinders, paper makers, printers, paper marblers, and book artists, as well as archivists and conservators. The group sponsors exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and publications dealing with various aspects of the art of the book throughout the year.
› The Codex Foundation
The Codex Foundation exists to preserve and promote the hand-made book as a work of art. Based in the Bay Area of Northern California the Codex Society works with other local bibliographic organizations to plan exhibitions, books fairs, scholarships and generally increase the recognition the artisanship and the rich history of the civilizations of the book.
› The Ephemera Society of America
The Ephemera Society of America is a non-profit organization formed in 1980 to cultivate and encourage interest in ephemera and the history identified with it.
› The Fine Press Book Association
An organization formed by individuals interested in the art of fine printing to promote printing skills and the appreciation of beautiful books.
› The Grolier Club
Founded in 1884, the Grolier Club of New York is America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts in the graphic arts. Named for Jean Grolier, the Renaissance collector renowned for sharing his library with friends, the Club’s objective is to foster "the literary study and promotion of the arts pertaining to the production of books."
The John Russell Bartlett Society is a group of Rhode Island book collectors, book crafts-people, and book readers who meet periodically for the purpose of engaging in good talk about books as objects.
› The Manuscript Society
Founded in 1948 as the National Society of Autograph Collectors, this organisation has grown to an international membership of almost 1,200 including dealers, private collectors, scholars, authors, and caretakers of public collections, such as librarians, archivists, and curators. There are also many historical societies, museums, special libraries, and academic libraries that are institutional members.
› Miniature Book Society
The Miniature Book Society is an international non-profit organization chartered in 1983 by the State of Ohio. Its aim is to sustain an interest in all phases of miniature books, to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and to serve as a clearing house for information about miniature books.
A forum for collectors of pop-up and movable books to share collecting resources, research, and pose questions about individual titles.
› Northern Ohio Bibliophilic Society
This is is an association of book collectors, dealers, librarians, and others interested in promoting the production, preservation, collection, and sale of fine and antiquarian books.
› The Ottawa Book Collectors
The Ottawa Book Collectors was founded in 1980. The OBC is a forum in which book lovers come together to share their enthusiasm for book-related matters. The club’s activities principally take the form of monthly meetings that feature presentations by members and invited guests.
Founded in 1893, this club is Philadelphia’s club for bibliophiles - collectors, librarians, booksellers, binders, printers, illustrators and anyone else who loves books.
› Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS)
Association of College and Research Libraries A division of the American Library Association
Founded in 1959, the RBMS has attempted to foster communication between special collections librarians and assist in their professional development. It strives promote the interests of librarians, curators, and other specialists concerned with the acquisition, organization, security, preservation, administration, and use of special collections.
› Rochester Bibliophile Society
The Bibliophile Society is a diverse group, from collectors of first editions or finely printed, bound or illustrated books to those with more haphazard collections of “finds” from garage sales, flea markets, or second-hand shops. Other members are not collectors at all but simply follow the club’s motto of “good books, good friends.” Membership to this informal organisation is open to anyone.
› Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP)
SHARP was created in 1991 to provide a global network for book historians. The organisation now has over 1000 members in more than 20 countries, including professors of literature, historians, librarians, publishing professionals, sociologists, bibliophiles, classicists, booksellers, art historians, reading instructors, and independent scholars.
› Sacramento Book Collectors Club
The Sacramento Book Collectors Club, a volunteer organization, was founded in 1939 at Hart’s Restaurant in Sacramento and became as a non-profit corporation in 1954. The Club has members of all ages and occupations who love books, collecting, editing, illustrating, publishing, and all other activities relating to books and the book arts.
› The Ticknor Society
The Ticknor Society is an organization of book collectors, booksellers, librarians, historians, archivists, conservators, printers, publishers, writers, and all lovers and readers of books. The group is based in Massachusetts and gathers approximately six times a year.
› Washington Rare Book Group
This informal and diverse group dates from the early 1970s, when a small number of enthusiasts from various disciplines (including collectors, book dealers, and private and governmental librarians) were drawn together to share their passion for collecting.
› The William Morris Society
Founded in London in 1955, the society aims to make the life and work of Morris and his associates better known. Its programs - which involve branches in the UK, Canada, and the US - include lectures, conferences, tours, museum visits, and social gatherings. A newsletter is published quarterly and there is a biannual journal. The society also publishes an array of books and pamphlets.
This is Southern California’s oldest organisation of bibliophiles and manuscript collectors. Founded in 1928, it sponsors lectures and publications on bookish topics. The club was named in honor of Agustin V. Zamorano (1798-1842), a provisional governor of Alta California and the state’s first printer.
European Book Clubs and Societies
› The Bibliographical Society
Founded in 1892, the Bibliographical Society is the most widely respected society dealing with the study of the book and its history.
› Edinburgh Bibliographical Society
This body encourages study in the fields of bibliography, the book trade, the history of scholarship and libraries, and book collecting, particularly as they relate to Scotland.
› Freundeskreis Miniaturbuch Berlin
This German-based miniature book society was founded in 1987 and is dedicated to the promotion, art and culture surrounding miniature books.
› The Finnish Comics Society
The society was founded in conjunction with an international exhibition of comics at the Amos Andersson Museum in 1971. It is an association of makers, readers, collectors and researchers of comics. The association aims to promote the awareness and critical reading of comics and cartoons.
› International Map Collectors Society
The International Map Collectors' Society (IMCoS) – The only qualification for membership with this not-fo- profit organisation is a love for maps. The group is based in London and serves an expanding list of around 750 members from all over the world.
› The Malone Society
Since its foundation in 1906, this society has made more accessible the materials essential for the study of English Renaissance drama. Its publications are famous for their meticulous scholarship and high standard of accuracy, and are indispensable to students of early drama.
› The Penguin Collectors Society
Founded in 1974 by a small group of enthusiasts meeting in Richmond, Surrey, this group studies 20th century book design, particularly Penguin Books, and help to preserve material relating to Penguin.
› The Printing Historical Society
Founded in London in 1964, the Printing Historical now has individual and institutional members worldwide and is committed to fostering interest in the history of printing and encourages both the study and the preservation of printing machinery, records, and equipment of historical value.
› The Private Libraries Association
The Private Libraries Association is an international society of book collectors - collectors of rare books, fine books, single authors, special subjects and, above all, collectors of books for the simple pleasures of reading and ownership. Occasional meetings to hear lectures are held in central London.
› The Roxburghe Club
The Roxburghe Club was founded in 1812 and is the oldest society of bibliophiles in the world. Its membership is limited to 40, chosen from people with distinguished libraries or collections, or with a scholarly interest in books.
Book Clubs and Societies of Australia and New Zealand
› Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand
This society produces a quarterly scholarly journal, the Bulletin, and has an active publishing programme. It holds regular conferences and sponsors an annual prize for an essay by a scholar. Members also receive a newsletter called the Broadsheet.
Active since 1944, this society is a focus for collectors to meet and share their enthusiasm for books of all kinds. There are four meetings a year, with a guest speaker, often one of the members, who shares valued treasures of his or her collection.
If your book collecting club or bibliographic society is not mentioned and you would like to be included on this list please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your group's name, the website url, and a brief description of your organization for consideration.