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Emmett D. Chisum Special Collections: Canoso Miniature Books

About the Michael Canoso Miniature Book Collection

The Michael Canoso Miniature Book Collection was donated in 2007 by Michael Canoso. It includes books smaller than 3 inches by 3 inches as well as a selection of artists' books, some pieces of which date from as early as 1800. A variety of subjects are represented from rock art to botanical specimens. Cataloged items can be browsed online by completing a keyword search for "Canoso Miniature Book."

"Artists' books are books or book-like objects over the final appearance of which an artist has had a high degree of control; when the book is intended as a work of art itself." 

--Stephen Bury
Artists' Books: The Book as a Work of Art, 1963-1995
Scholar Press, 1995


What is a miniature book?

The Library of Congress defines a miniature book as those books of 10 cm or less in height. Mr. Canoso’s collection includes some items over 10 cm. All those 10 cm and under have the subject heading “Miniature books—Specimens."

To accommodate some of the larger items in the Canoso Collection, a miniature book portfolio section was created. 

What is an artists' book?

Works of art realized in the form of a book. Artists' books may be published in limited editions or as one-of-a-kind objects (known as "uniques") in a variety of forms including scrolls, fold-outs, pop-ups, concertinas, or loose items contained in some form of a box, as well as bound printed sheets. Artists have been active in printing and book production for centuries, but the artists' book is primarily a late 20th century form.

Our Collection

What are the smallest books in the collection?

What are the oldest books in the collection?

Some books lack a publication date. The oldest books with known publication dates are:

How many publishers and countries are represented in the collection?

The books have come from over 340 different publishers (some lack publication information) and at least 23 countries.

What languages are found in the collection?

Most books are in English; other languages include: Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Middle English, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Maori, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. One book contains a single Bible verse translated into 267 languages. 

What are the books about?

Subject matter is wide ranging. Some of the more common topics are alphabet books, papermaking, poetry, fairy tales, works by Shakespeare, and, of course, miniature books.

How does this collection compare to other miniature book libraries?

Two larger collections include: Indiana University—Bloomington’s Lilly Library that has 16,000 miniature books and the University of Virginia with over 13,000 books.