The old presses and wood cases of metal type in the typography studio at 185 Nassau St. seem like relics from another era. But Robert Milevski, the University’s preservation librarian, sees a “whole continuum” leading to today’s computer age: “It all evolved from writing, from inscription that turned into typography. If we had not discovered movable type, would we have computers today?”
The studio has not received much use in recent years: printing the title page for a photography class portfolio; producing illustrated poetry portfolios for creative writing students; supplementing a course on the history of the book.
Milevski, who has managed the studio since 2001, also produces small custom-printing jobs, such as a four-page “keepsake” of passages from the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid in Greek, Latin, and English for an event honoring Professor Robert Fagles in March.
With no formal departmental ties, the studio has led a precarious existence. It was shuttered during the 1990s before it reopened in 1998 with the addition of two presses that had been used for printing jobs at Firestone Library. Later came a proposal to close the studio and use the space for dance, but a “groundswell” of support saved the studio, Milevski said.
This fall the Princeton Atelier program — which brings professional artists to campus to work collaboratively with students and faculty — will use the studio in a course on collotype printing, which combines lithography and photography.
Milevski believes that the studio can continue to play an educational role: “To students, these things are pretty magical,” he said.