Alex Brooks is a book conservator and Executive Director of ProgressLex. A first generation college graduate, he studied creative writing at the University of Kentucky. He was an apprentice at the King Library Press, where he learned letterpress printing and bookbinding. He also worked as a conservation assistant for University of Kentucky Libraries and Special Collections. In 2010 Brooks received a Fulbright award to study book conservation at West Dean College is West Sussex, England. After graduating in 2012, he returned to Kentucky to renew his letterpress printing, hand binding, and book conservation practice. Brooks owned a letterpress printing business for 8 years before becoming a book conservator. He still prints woodcuts and miscellaneous ephemera, and hopes to print more books in the future. He has a few 1000+ pound presses in the front room of his house.
Travis DuPriest of Racine, WI, is a graduate of UK (Ph.D.) and Harvard (MTS), with a year of study at St. Chad's College, University of Durham (England); and research scholar at St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge (England). While in graduate school at UK, DuPriest apprenticed under Carolyn Hammer at the King Library Press, where he set (and distributed) type, printed, marbled paper, sewed signatures, and learned simple Japanese binding. After college, DuPriest started a letterpress operation at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. The Southport Press was also a teaching press, like KLP, focusing mainly on classes during which the student apprentices worked on one booklet and one broadside.
Arthur Graham is the proprietor of Polyglot Press in Lexington, KY. He is a former tenor with the Metropolitan Opera and retired in 1999 as Professor of Music at UK. Graham began hobby printing in New York and continued in Pennsylvania and Florida before moving to Lexington in 1968. His friendship with Carolyn Hammer led to a more serious approach to amateur typography. Graham has printed in 20 languages, including Farsi, Chinese, Japanese, Ladino, Yiddish, Hebrew, Middle High German, Old Irish, Latin, Greek, and Neapolitan. He has worked together with serigraphist Grace Perreiah and printed artwork by John Tuska, Charles A. Jolly, and Fritz Kredel. Carnegie Mellon, Yale, and Jewish Theological Seminary hold collections of his printing.
Jonathan Greene, Gnomon Press, is a writer (over 30 books), book designer and publisher. He moved to Kentucky in 1966, although he has family who have lived here since the 1860s. He lives with his wife, the weaver and photographer Dobree Adams, on a Kentucky River farm. Greene has had fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council. Three of his poems have been featured on "The Writer's Almanac" and read by Garrison Keillor. Greene worked for Carolyn Hammer at both her press at home and the King Library Press at its beginning, typesetting Wendell Berry's "The Rise."
Deborah Kessler operates October Press in Lexington, KY. She is a graduate of the UK School of Library and Information Science and worked as a librarian for over 30 years. While in library school, Kessler took a class on the history of books and printing and immediately fell in love with rare books and printing presses. She participated in workshops offered by Gay Reading, Director of the King Library Press at the time. Kessler subsequently apprenticed for Carolyn Hammer at the Anvil Press on Market Street and later for Gray Zeitz at Larkspur Press. In 1999 she acquired her first press, a Golding Official #4 (made October 23, 1891), and started October Press. At October Press, she prints "broadsides, cards, and books of works I love."
Carolyn Whitesel of North College Hill, OH, is self-employed as a professional artist/bookbinder and poet, producing independent artwork in a variety of media, teaching classes and workshops, and doing illustrations, unique papers and bindings for special editions of the Larkspur Press. Whitesel worked as an apprentice at the King Library Press under the direction of Carolyn Hammer during the mid 1970's. She came to the press originally to learn about bookbinding, but also worked at typesetting, printing, and binding, and was introduced to paste papers and simple marbling. In the years since working at King Library Press, Whitesel has continued to explore decorative papers, binding, illustration, and design, and the related areas of cut paper, hand papermaking, linocut printing, and wood engraving. She has experimented with a wide range of book structures and has recently published several poetry projects pairing digital technology with hand-binding methods.
Gray Zeitz learned the craft of hand printing from Carolyn Hammer at the King Library Press. He founded Larkspur Press in 1974, setting up in the rear of a Monterey, KY, candle shop, with "a couple of fonts" of type and a press given to him by Hammer. Carolyn Whitesel, an artist who also served an apprenticeship in the King Library Press with Hammer, has bound special editions and made marbled and paste papers for bindings for Larkspur Press since 1984. Leslie Shane has worked at Larkspur for many years binding, printing, and setting type. Zeitz has worked with some of Kentucky's most highly respected authors, including Wendell Berry, Guy Davenport, James Baker Hall, Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, Silas House, Ed McClanahan, Maureen Morehead, Maurice Manning, Gurney Norman, Erik Reece, and Richard Taylor. Larkspur Press editions are sought by collectors of fine press books, as well as by collectors of specific authors or regional literature. In 2012 Gray Zeitz was the Artist Award repicient from the Governor's Award in the Arts.
The King Library Press began in 1956 when a group of librarians, working during their lunch hours, produced a small book. The influence of Carolyn Reading Hammer, founder and until 1976 the Press director, and the typographic tradition seen in the works of Victor Hammer provide inspiration for the work of the Press. Located in University of Kentucky Libraries' Margaret I. King Library and now part of the Special Collections Research Center, the King Library Press remains devoted to the tradition of fine printing, producing books and broadsides. There are opportunities for apprentices. All of the participants in "Verse in Type" either apprenticed at the Press or were mentored by Carolyn Hammer or one of the subsequent directors of the Press. The current director of the King Library Press, since 1988, is Paul Evans Holbrook.