We are type—125 years of St Bride Library

I have been fortunate enough to visit St Bride Library a number of times. I’ve mostly been for graphic design conferences or evening talks hosted by Eye Magazine. For the uninitiated, St Bride Library, just off Fleet Street in London, includes an events hall, a large archive of typographic, graphic design and publishing related books, and a printshop that hosts hands-on letterpress, engraving and book-binding workshops. It is so steeped in all-things print, that I am always disappointed that Swarfega doesn’t come out to the soap dispensers in the toilets whenever I have been there.

2020 sees the library celebrate its 125th year. Like most cultural organisations, this year has been a challenging one. That hasn’t dampened the St Bride team’s ambitions though, and recent months has seen a relaunch of its journal, Ultrabold, (the first issue in 4 years), and they have plans to digitise their impressive archive. To see them through this precarious time, St Bride have also launched a crowdfunding campaign with the hope of further supporting these ventures and to help secure the future of the library.

Seeking to raise £50,000, a third of that has already been raised only two weeks into the campaign . With two weeks to go though, they could do with all the extra donations they can get.

To raise the profile of the crowdfunding campaign, St Bride have put out a call to friends of the library and the public alike to create an artwork using the words We Are Type, and post this to social media using the hashtag of the same name. Alongside pledging money, I have created the gif below to post to my socials.

For my We Are Type contribution I’ve used a Fluorite system—plastic lettering designed to clip onto fluorescent tubes as window displays, originating, I hazard a guess, from the 1950s. Unfortunately, not knowing where the clips are, and not having any fluorescent lights at home, I am unable to use them as designed, but it is good to the set out again after they’ve been gathering dust for a few years.

If you are able, please do consider supporting St Bride Library financially. The archive is far too important to lose to Covid-19.

Image: St Bride Library

Published by Nigel Ball

Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design

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