Special Collections: Movable Books

photo vasa 3                                       Philippe Ug (2014) Vasarely (GSA Library, Special Collections)


GSA Library holds a growing collection of movable books which are available upon request from our Special Collections. We use the term movable as a broader category to include various formats such as concertina, lift-the-flap, pull-tabs and revolving pictures. Our collection is varied and includes pop-ups of children’s fairy tales, human anatomy, three dimensional Norman Rockwell paintings, and the expanding little town of Popville.


Today movable books are predominantly used in children’s literature, but their origin is believed to date back to the 13th Century at which time they were designed and used by adults for a myriad of purposes. Over the centuries they have been used to map the constellations, decipher secret codes, predict the future, and for teaching anatomy. The first known movable book was created by Matthew of Paris, a Benedictine monk in Hertfordshire in the 13th Century and was used by monks to calculate holy days.