President Ronald R. Thomas Collection

The Collins Library is pleased to display a portion of the personal collection of books of President Emeritus Ronald R. Thomas. This collection represents a selection of books that inspired President Thomas throughout his academic career.  The collection provides a snapshot into the power of books and how they inspire and motivate. Below is the opening paragraph of his essay describing his collection.

Literature Is Everything
Ronald R. Thomas

Portion of the essay:
Literary critics are often accused of trying to treat everything as literature--of not properly acknowledging the difference between art and reality, between fiction and fact, between reading and living. I am reminded of that charge as I offer an account of this collection of books from my personal library. At about three hundred titles, the selections in it represent less than ten percent of my entire library, but they make up an important fragment of the whole. The choices behind any curated collection like this tell a story about the collector, even if not the whole story—offering a kind of map or X-ray of the intellectual constituents and pathways of my critical and creative imagination. 

The collection is displayed in the Archives & Special Collection Research Room on the 2nd floor of the Collins Library.

broadside was designed and printed by Taylor Cox, printer in residence at Collins PressIn honor of President Thomas, the Library commissioned a unique broadside. It was created using two presses: the Arts & Crafts Press in Tacoma, WA, and the Collins Press, an antique Craftsman tabletop platen press at Collins Library, University of Puget Sound. The broadside quote, “Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world,” comes from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses, which President Thomas quoted in his inaugural address.

The broadside was designed and printed by Taylor Cox, printer in residence at Collins Press. The first two layers of the print (the light and dark blue) were printed using a reduction linoleum carving. The light blue was printed first, covering the entire silhouette of the globe. Taylor then carved away the areas where the broadside would be light blue. The block was then printed a second time in dark blue, allowing the light blue to show through where the linoleum was carved away. The quote in red ink was printed using hand set metal type.

We have reached a point in the digital age, where technology has become the norm and things made by hand have become quite rare. We value the unique and one of a kind image that is the result of letterpress printing. As Taylor says, “Evidence of the human hand and the little inconsistencies that are present in letterpress printing cannot be duplicated using digital design. The time and care that can so easily be lost in digital design, become ever apparent through the carved blocks and hand mixed inks of letterpress printing. It is the tactile nature of letterpress printing that is so important in the mass production of the digital age.”

You are welcome to print out a PDF of the broadside here.

Click here for a complete list of the President’s collection:  Ronald Thomas bibliography.