More Than Bookish (The University of Virginia Library, 2020)

This is not your average annual report; particularly not what you would expect of a university library. The University of Virginia Library’s 2020 report is a delightful, well-balanced combination of images, graphics, and text. The report also covers a variety of unusual topics, including library graffiti.

Nothing about the report or its content is boring; details about the library archives are presented appealingly and artfully, and content is spaced out across the pages so as not to overwhelm the reader.

The letter from the librarian mentions this report closely follows the 2019 edition, but the reader will soon find this does not mean there is a dearth of information about 2020.

The artwork and colours may represent the chaos that ruled during the year owing to the pandemic; their boldness and connectivity seem to echo the string of surprises readers will find on each page. The extensive collection artwork of renowned political artist Patrick Oliphant is also celebrated in this report.

Scanned letters and other valuable documents related to the American Civil War; sheet music; some of the earliest known records of well-loved ballads are other elements visible in this report, proving this library comprises of far more than just books.

Also included in this report is the addressing of a number of social issues which the reader is given candid access to. A simple double spread at the end of the report reveals the figures for the year, while a vibrant graphic on the following page shows expenditure.

There’s definitely a sense of excitement exuded through colour, composition and tone and the report does a good job of explaining how the library thrived despite not being able to fully function as a physical space.

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