Staff in the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Book Arts Program suddenly found themselves very busy when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state of Utah. In response to a request from Noemi Hernández-Balcázar, visual arts and dance specialist for the Granite School District, staff in the Book Arts Program rolled up their sleeves and designed a bookmaking kit, accompanying lesson plan and instructional video. Incredibly, staff created 1,500 bookmaking kits in just four days; these kits were then distributed to 22 schools.
The book design that was used is called a Tunnel Book, which is a fun, interactive book form in which the viewer peers through a hole or opening into the depth of the book. The kits included four pieces of cover weight or rag paper for the students to make the frames and back piece of the book to collage, paint, pieces to draw on, as well as two longer strips of paper that are folded as an accordion and glued as the two spine pieces on either side of the book.
“I have been the No. 1 fan of the Book Arts Program for years,” explains Hernández-Balcázar. “Their team brought their outreach programs into my classroom back when I was a teacher. The students were always so engaged when the volunteer came to the class and they learned the history of bookmaking and then got to make their own books.”
For the past four years, Hernández-Balcázar has been the visual arts and dance specialist for Granite School District. She works with 160 teachers, providing them with professional resources for development so they can offer the best, most engaging programs for their students.
“I couldn’t believe it when the people in the Book Arts Program called and asked how they could help at the beginning of COVID-19 outbreak. I knew they would provide the highest quality kits, but I was completely astounded at how quickly they were able to get the kits done and in the hands of students,” remarks Hernández-Balcázar.