In 2016, students in the Concourse program studied the history of bookmaking—then constructed a hand-set printing press. Now that press is available on the eighth floor of Barker Library to any aspiring Gutenberg in the MIT community.
Along with the wooden letterpress created by the students of 21H.343/CC.120 (Making Books in the Renaissance and Today), the Beaver Press Print Shop features more than 25 cases of metal type, ink, paper, and other equipment necessary to set and print texts and images. Concourse director and history professor Anne McCants and professor and head of the history faculty Jeffrey Ravel now co-direct the press with technical director Ken Stone ’72 (former director of the MIT Hobby Shop).
“One of the values of making something,” says McCants, “is learning that we moderns are not the only clever ones. People in the past were clever too, and they also knew some things we don’t.”