Light Reading


Miniature books, most of which are less than three inches tall and some of which are smaller than a penny, have delighted readers for centuries. Popular because they were easily carried or concealed, these historic books range from tiny “Thumb Bibles” to illustrated nursery rhymes. The earliest piece of block printing to which an accurate date can be ascribed–a Japanese wooden block print from about 770 AD–is a miniature scroll and part of the Lilly Library’s collections.


More than 900 of the library’s 16,000 miniatures were on display in the Library’s Main Gallery from June 18 to September 15, 2001. This online exhibition pictures a selection of the miniatures displayed in the exhibition and reproduces the narrative text of the exhibition labels.

400 Years of Miniature Books
At the Lilly Library of Indiana University