Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Prelinger Archive

Sorting the Stacks

Today I followed Jess to The Prelinger Archive. The archive was born in 1983 in New York City. Over twenty years, Rick Prelinger put his passion into a collection of unique, hand-sorted, works spanning the last 100 years. It is primarily non-fiction, with topics ranging from old trade periodicals like American Cemetary and Modern Plastics, to government produced info-porn from the middle 50's. It is impossible to sum up the collection in just a few genres.


Major Seasonal Movements in Intermountain Region

Rick shared the vast oceans of information to be found with a brief, enigmatic, and eclectic tour of the archives. It is a place where you can find the behavioral economics of television as well as a mapped visualization of the major seasonal movements in the west inter-mountain region of North America. As we rounded the third aisle, he picked up a section of six books, a set of periodicals he handed over to his taxonomist, Megan, who was working on resorting something to do with zoos.

Over the course of hours, we explored, with lively conversation about a variety topics, all crammed into Rick's ever-curious mind and found treasures that you would never happen upon in the public-library.



It was a place to be curious, a place that you knew if you looked, you would find delight, the thrill of discovery, and something you had no idea you wanted to read.

1 comment:

blackoystercatcher said...

Thanks for the very nice post.

Just so that the record's straight, Prelinger Library is a collaborative project co-founded and created by both Megan and me. It's just five years old, and we have worked together on every one its aspects, except that she designed the taxonomy and arrangement of the collection, on which she was working yesterday while I worked in the front.

The Prelinger Archives is actually quite a different project, our moving image archives, which I started some 20 years ago in NYC. It consisted of a large collection of advertising, educational, industrial and amateur films, and now lives mostly at the Library of Congress.

Come again soon!