Collection of miniature books in the Ljubljana City Library
In 2010 Ljubljana became the World Book Capital, and this occasion is being celebrated with many exhibitions and events which praise books. Martin Žnideršič has been involved in books all his life, professionally as well as privately. He is a doctor of philosophy in the field of publishing, in his private life he has directed his love of books towards collecting and became one of the most renowned collectors of miniature book in Europe. In 40-years of constant effort he collected 3000 miniatures from 57 countries, which is the largest collection of this kind in central Europe. In 2010 Martin Žnideršič decided to donate his precious collection of miniature books and small works of art to the Ljubljana City Library – the Slavic Library. This noble act of donorship greatly contributed to the treasury of the Ljubljana City Library. The Slavic Library is part of the Ljubljana City Library (LCL) and acts as The Centre of Local History Studies and Special Collection of the Humanities. Since its post-war foundation, it has been a special, study-based type of library in the field of culture, the humanities, Slavonic studies and translations and activities relating to local history. Acting as a special type of library within the family of Ljubljana public libraries, it continues to perform tasks for which it is best qualified with its library material, library space and well-established orientation. Thus we perform tasks relating to local history studies and act as a well-equipped reading room with a rich collection of literature for study for all users of LCL and we make further strides in this new field.
For a book to be considered a miniature one, its text-block (without covers) must not extend over 10 cm in either direction, while no limitations exist on the smallest allowed size. So far Anton Čehov’s Chameleon, made in 1996 by A. Konenko in Omsk (Russia), has been considered the world’s smallest miniature book, and has been recognized as such by the Guinness World Records. This year an even smaller book was made in Japan, but has not yet been internationally confirmed. The first characteristic of a miniature book is its format that varies within the measures, as mentioned above. The second characteristic is the diversity not only of its content, but also in the technology of production: from manually created miniature books produced by enthusiasts around the world, to fully printed editions, enabled by modern printing technology and sold at the newsstands. Genuine collectors, however, are usually not interested in such editions.
The world of miniature book is highly diverse nowadays. Internationally there are several hundred publishers of miniature books as well as several hundred collectors. The Miniature Book Society, the largest collectors club in the USA, has about 400 international members. There are three clubs in Germany: in Stuttgart, Berlin and Leipzig. Within the former socialist block the publishing of miniature books was highly developed in the former Soviet Union, in Hungary, as well as in the Eastern Germany. Several clubs of miniature book collectors and of publishers as well as of printing-shops had existed, but have, however, stopped operating since the collapse of the former political system. In general miniature books show that the publishers put great efforts into these editions, ranging from the selection and editing of texts, design and illustration, to the binding of tiny books. Individual miniatures are thus true masterpieces of the trade.