My name is Chris. I have been collecting comics since 1983, and reading them since at last 1977. I have been trained as an actor, a radio producer, a graphic designer, a web designer, and, most recently, a librarian. I have been doing graphic design and layout for various comic book related publications for TwoMorrows Publishing since 2001 and am currently the designer for Roy Thomas' Alter Ego. In my main occupation I serve as Digital Resources Librarian at the Flaxman Library at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Day One of Weeding 2011: It seems like so much, and yet so little.
Sounds a bit like a parody of a Stephen King novel from 1983. But I took advantage of the relatively free nature of this weekend (no freelance, no visitors, no vacation, beautiful weather) to get started. To clear off the dining room table and start filling it with books to dispose of. And for something that seemed to be so simple at first,this weeding has become more and more difficult as it goes on, especially when I look back at the bookshelves and they still seem to be overflowing.
Intellectually I understand that this should be easy. I’ve made peace with getting rid of a portion of my things. I know from past experiences that I will barely miss these the items that I get rid of; I have had almost no moments of regret from the last few years of culling. I know that if worst comes to worst I can re-acquire things that leave an aching hole in my soul, and that much of the older material will possibly be re-issued in an even better format. And I know the amazing feeling that will come when I walk into a home that, while still full of books, is not aggressively drowning me in four-color art and print.
I think I passed a breaking point last night. Last night I actively hated my library.
Since I decided to get back on the blogging the past week I’ve been trying to figure out what to write. I’ve stop-started several entries, trying to get back to the themes of why I buy things and why I keep them. Or to give you a new photo tour of my current library set-up (which will still come). Or how I plan to get rid of things this time.
Last night I had hoped to spend a little time packing up some Ebay items and then maybe do a little writing. Then I decided to try out this new thing that Amazon has called “Trade-Ins” where they’ll buy your items (books, games, etc) for a small price and give you credit. You get far less then selling them elsewhere, but it seemed like a nice alternative with less stress. Then book after book after book was either not available for trade-in or the price offered was less than a dollar. Suddenly even this method was turning into another dead end.
And that was when the library finally became a massive anchor and dragged my soul to the bottom of the ocean. I was never going to get rid of these books. Not the way I wanted. The way I wanted was to have the world line up outside my door and let me individually hand each person a book that would make them happy and they would thank me while handing me cover price in cash. I need to make as much of a break as possible, and as quickly as possible. When I started this in 2009 I wanted the time to say goodbye to each individual item. That time has passed. I’ve said goodbye when I packed them and unpacked them three times over the past five years. Goodbye.
So I walked away with a decision. Later this month I start the real weeding. I will weed harshly and strongly. I want to empty two to three bookshelves when this is done, maybe more. I will choose a small amount, maybe two small boxes worth, to attempt to sell through channels like Ebay in order to get something resembling a price for them. The rest will go to used bookstores that will pay me very little but take all of them. Anything that isn’t taken will be donated.
And then I’m done. Walk away. And keep any eye out on what is left so that this doesn’t happen again.
We’ll see if I can do this. I don’t 100% trust myself but I know in my heart I’ll feel better.
[Well. I wrote this post in August of 2010. Enjoy!]
Another recent find online. “The Ark”, designed by Rintala Eggertsson Architects, was a project for the Victoria & Albert Museum, and is nestled in the stairwell leading to the library the Museum. A two-story, immersive bookcase. Now I know another thing to keep in mind when I build my dream home.
It’s the book store and the library on the second floor, so we wanted to connect those two parts of the museum with a book tower so that you could read the continuity from the stored books to the books that are sold and become eventually a part of every people’s life out there.
The tower is a bookcase in itself, the first thing you meet is the white backside of the books and they don’t reveal themselves until you get to the inside where you get the spine of the book. I think it is important for us to show that architecture is not a mystical thing but it’s about putting one stick on top of the other like every small child does in the beginning of their life.
It has been a busy five months, and I hope to post a real post in the near future with things I’ve learned, steps I’ve taken, and other important things. But in the meantime, here are a few important links I’ve discovered over the months, mostly through Twitter.
Isn’t this what happens to all the best bloggers: you get a little publicity and suddenly, writer’s block. It happened to J.D. Salinger, it happened to Harper Lee, it happened to Stephen King, and now me: one big success and then, bam!, nothing. Well, my excuse was that over the last two weeks with most of my free time spent working on the grand culling/eBay project (more on that in a post later this weekend); I honestly don’t think that Harper Lee had an excuse that good.
But I did want to share some amazing book collection links that I’ve gathered over the recent history. Some really good “Shelf Porn” entries, the bookshelves of the rich and famous, and an example of what I always imagined my own collection to look like in my head.
Time to toot my own home for a second. This blog and it’s purpose got a bit of a boost today from the blog Robot 6 over at Comic Book Resources. Their regular feature “Show Us Your Shelf Porn” was one of the webspaces which gave me some of the impetus to start up this little blog. Well, this week I got the opportunity to give a little back, and my library is the featured collection.
I’ve been talking to them for a little while now and a week or so ago I sent them a brand new set of photos as well as a brand new tour/essay, focusing on the organization and construction of my shelves and some other issues that I haven’t necessarily had a chance to go into here yet. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to their blog and to share my thoughts, and this site, with the wider community. Thanks to editor Chris Mautner for the chance to share my thoughts and photos with the wider online community.
So go on over and check them out. This link will take you directly to my entry. This link will take you to their main blog page. And this link will take you to other entries in the series.
So, after the previous tour, I wanted to go back and share details of some of the sections and shelves in my library. The original photos give you an idea of the size, scope, and arrangement of what I have gathered over the years. These should give you, and me, an idea of the individual elements and what some of these things mean to me, and what mean nothing to me anymore. I’m going to break these up by section, so lets start with the bookcases in the library and office that cover my independent comics, as well as the 1980s collection.
A collection of Grant Morrison books, including the runs of Doom Patrol, The Invisibles, and Seven Soldiers. The real pride here are the Titan Books Zenith collections from the late-80s. A real ground breaking work from early in his career that is so tied up in rights dispute who knows if it will ever be collected again.
So, to help you understand the scope of my mission, I should first give you a quick tour of the “collection.” I’ve done this in the fashion of the Shelf Porn collections from Robot 6, the Collected Editions Message Board at the Marvel Masterworks Resource Page, the Comics Journal Message Board, and elsewhere on the web. So let us walk through the various shelves in my world, with some slight commentary as we go. These are selected photos, and there will be a link to a full slide show at the end.
We start our tour in the living room with the "Public Bookshelf." I've long obsessed over which books to position as the public face of my collection. The books that people could judge me on: both for my excellent taste and for my not being a hip, sexy comic reader. It is something I've thought about ever since my first apartment in 1994.
According to the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system Graphic novels and comic strips are classified in the PN6725-PN6778 range, arranged by the region or country of their creation (not publication) then double-cuttered by main entry (usually author, then title). For more information on "Cataloging Graphic Novels" checkout this presentation by Georgia Perimeter College.