Oklahoma History Center Curator Forms Book-Collecting Group

Article excerpt

They're Bibliophiles of Oklahoma, a new group that loves everything about books, from reading to collecting them, researching their history and studying early printing and advertising methods.

Benjamin Clark, curator of education at the Oklahoma History Center, got them off the ground.

Clark said the group is open to anyone with a passion for books.

"We're not a snooty organization," he said.

Clark, who has been in Oklahoma about two years, said there is a long tradition of book collectors forming clubs.

"Historically, what they would do is republish old things that have been forgotten and lost," he said.

That has changed, Clark said, but he hopes to hold on to certain traditions, including the camaraderie and educational aspects of book collecting groups.

"One of our members collects archaeological texts," he said. "Something he could educate all of us in is his area of specialty."

One of Clark's interests is the American book trade, including how books were historically sold, advertised, shipped and printed.

The group, just a few months old, presents programs on members' various interests.

On June 26, Clark said, professor Kevin Hays from the University of Central Oklahoma, a leading bibliographer in the U.S., will give a presentation on the personal library of Patrick Henry. The meeting, which is open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. at the Overholser Mansion.

Clark said he had been trying to launch such a group for about a year and a half.

"I was very surprised that a city of this size didn't have one already," he said.

Bibliophiles of Oklahoma has about a dozen members thus far.

"We are growing," Clark said. "As the word gets out, more and more people are finding us."

Clark also does a blog, Exile Bibliophile.

"That's how the first person found me, because I was talking about, I'd like to start this sort of thing," he said. "Finally someone got in touch and said, yes, let's do it."

The group meets monthly, usually at 7 p.m. on the last Thursday evening of the month, at Belle Isle Brewery, "over an appetizer and a pint. …