Check out WORD-IN-PROGRESS, a Special Collections exhibit

Check out WORD-IN-PROGRESS, a Special Collections exhibit

View the exhibit, WORD-IN-PROGRESS, on display on the 3rd floor, W.A.C. Bennett Library.

Curator's Statement

In the fall of 2023, I printed a book using the printing press in the Media and Maker Commons in the W.A.C. Bennett Library at Simon Fraser University. I was setting type by hand, learning how to center it on the page for printing, deciding where my page numbers should go—top middle? bottom off-center? mid-page, to the left of the text?—and how to ink the type evenly, how to lock it in place on the press bed for printing. Or, well, I tried to print a book. Inherently time-consuming, and all-new-to-me to boot, what I actually managed to produce was four pages of print: a title page, and three pages of text. But was that really all that I produced? As this exhibit demonstrates—and, frankly, luxuriates in—absolutely not. Every session with the printing press saw me walking back to my office in the English Department with armfuls of paper and other detritus of the day’s labour. What surrounds the process of printing is highly invisible in the finished codex book found on library shelves and bedside tables, but, when one looks, the material form of the process is everywhere. And I do mean that literally: the process is delightfully—deliciously—gloriously messy.

WORD-IN-PROGRESS invites you to sit with that mess and the process that produces it. What do we see—regarding the labour, the time, the design, the decisions, the structure and the format, the physicality, the affective and the personal—when we focus not on the product made, but on the process of making it? Featuring materials from SFU’s Special Collections and Rare Books’ Book History Collection that focus on the printing process right alongside the papers of my labour to print WORD-IN-PROGRESS, this exhibit brings you right into the scholarly and physical print mess of my words-in-progress. I encourage you to revel in it. 


What's on display?

About the curator

Kate Moffatt is a PhD student in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University. Her research focuses on women in the eighteenth-century book trades, digital humanities and feminist data, and archival (in)visibility. She is the Project Manager and Lead Editor of Firms on the Women’s Print History Project

Curator's acknowledgements 

WORD-IN-PROGRESS (book) and WORD-IN-PROGRESS (exhibit) were created as part of a Special Collections and Rare Books Directed Study in Fall 2023. Huge thanks to Andrea Taylor, artist and printer, who oversaw my labour with the press and worked extensively with me on this project throughout the semester, the supervisory efforts and labour of Dr. Michelle Levy, and the enthusiastic support of Andréa Tarnawsky and Alexandra Wieland in Special Collections and Rare Books. 

May 10 - August 30
7th floor, W.A.C. Bennett Library (SFU Burnaby)
Contact for further information
For further information please contact Special Collections and Rare Books at or Andréa Tarnawsky at or visit Special Collections.