Barbara B. Blumenthal

Barbara Blumenthal, the rare book specialist in the Mortimer Rare Book Room, is responsible for supervision of patrons in the reading room, preparation and installation of exhibitions, acquisition and cataloguing of books and manuscripts, and assisting the curators with presentations for visiting classes. She also serves as the administrative assistant for the Book Studies Concentration, which was established in the fall of 2011.

Barbara graduated in 1975 from Smith College, where she majored in American Studies, but also explored her love of books by studying typography and calligraphy with Elliot Offner. In the summer of 1973 she served an apprenticeship in western Massachusetts with master bookbinder Arno Werner and is an independent hand bookbinder with a studio in her home in Northampton. She began working part-time in the rare book collection at Smith in 1976. Since 1980 she has issued five limited-edition publications with her Catawba Press imprint. As a member of the Guild of Book Workers, she has participated in many of its national and regional bookbinding exhibitions. Barbara occasionally presents workshops and lectures about bookbinding and book arts. She co-wrote and edited Paradise Printed & Bound: Book Arts in Northampton & Beyond, published in 2004 on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the founding of Northampton, Massachusetts.

Richard Wilbur. The Disappearing Alphabet. Catawba Press, 1998.


Richard Wilbur. The Disappearing Alphabet.
Catawba Press, 1998.


Barbara Blumental







Presentation of Mattioli 16th-century woodblock and printed herbal during reunion weekend, May 26, 2012

Here is an interview with Barbara about local book arts and the Mortimer Rare Book Room, one of six conversations conducted by Nolan Boomer as part of the 2016 Institute for Curatorial Practice Summer Academic and Internship Programs at Hampshire College. Click on the red flags on the map to access the interviews.

Learn more about Barbara Blumenthal here.

Contact Information

Barbara B. Blumenthal, Rare Book Specialist
Mortimer Rare Book Room
(413) 585-2906