The Alcuin Society

About the Alcuin Society

Alcuin Society Coat of Arms Heraldry thumbnailThe Alcuin Society is a voluntary association of people who care about the past, present and future of fine books. Founded in 1965 by Geoff Spencer and six other Vancouver bibliophiles, and maintained by the current board, it is the only non-profit organization in Canada dedicated to the entire range of interests related to books and reading. These interests include authorship, publishing, book design and production, bookselling, book buying and collecting, printing, binding, papermaking, calligraphy and illustration.

The Society’s two main goals are to promote a wider appreciation of books and reading and to support excellence in book design and production. In support of these goals, it sponsors educational programmes, publishes a journal, offers a prestigious award known as the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, and
the Robert R. Reid Award and Medal to recognise lifetime achievement, or extraordinary contributions, to the Book Arts in Canada.

The name “Alcuin” honours the memory of Alcuin of York (c. 735 to 804 A.D.), Abbot of St. Martin at Tours, a man who cared deeply about books and literacy. As Charlemagne’s “Minister of Culture”, and a respected teacher, Alcuin encouraged the study and preservation of ancient texts, contributed to the development of the lowercase alphabet and helped establish numerous schools and libraries.

As for the lettercase image at the top left of our web site the person at the lettercase is taken from an old illustration of a typesetter and is not meant to represent Alcuin or any other historical person. The Alcuin Society is interested in all the arts of the book; typography has been central to these arts for the last 500 years. Our coat-of-arms includes a quill pen and a knife to represent calligraphy and more abstractly, Alcuin is represented by a rose.


Further Information on the Alcuin Society

Here are a collection of articles written on the Alcuin Society:

Basbanes, Nicholas A. "Viva Vancouver." Fine Books and Collections January 2009.

Rimmer, Jim. North by Northwest [Radio], December 2008.

Saunders, Jeremiah. "Flickr as a Digital Image Collection Host: A Case Study of the Alcuin Society." Collection Management 33, no.4 (2008).


Who Directs the Society?

Alcuin AGM 2009

The Society’s Board is composed of twelve voting directors and three ex-officio directors, each serving a three-year term. Elections to the Board are staggered to ensure continuity; hence four directors are elected each year at our Annual General Meeting. Officers include a chair, secretary and treasurer. Meeting eight times a year, the directors share responsibility, through a committee structure, for Amphora, programme events, the book design competition, awards and prizes, membership and special publications.

Alcuin AGM 2009 

Current Board of Directors

Howard Greaves


Paul Whitney


Bill Haberl


Wendy Massing


Roberto Dosil


Markus Fahrner


Leah Gordon


Shelley Gruendler


Grant Hurley


Richard Hopkins


Gina Page


Ralph Stanton


Marlene Chan, Lumi Constantin, Chester Gryski, Peter Mitham, Eric Swanick

ex-officio Board Members