Library Excavations #3: Periodical Business
Authors: Marc Fischer and Public Collectors
Publisher: Public Collectors (2016)
The third issue of Library Excavations, which will be an ongoing Public Collectors booklet series. Library Excavations is a project and publication series that highlights and activates physical materials found in public libraries. Public Collectors prefers direct experiences of physical media over the digital. Library Excavations encourages intensive browsing of paper and print resources, particularly those that are under-utilized, or at risk of being withdrawn and discarded.
About this issue: The Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center is home to a vast collection of bound business periodicals. The many shelves are filled with titles that will be foreign to industry outsiders. Some date back to the late 1800s. These are primarily publications sent directly to business executives and their company offices, or to institutional libraries, rather than newsstands. The beauty of a public library is that visitors with zero credentials can enjoy decades’ worth of these insider publications, without ever improving our work wardrobes or falsifying our credentials.
This booklet is also an appreciation of the binderies that collate and sew these magazines into indestructible bound volumes. The foil stamped titles on the hard covers have a leveling effect, allowing us to consider Modern Power Systems alongside Quick Frozen Foods, as though power plants and pizza are equally important. These photos were taken in July and August 2016. I hope that they will entice others to explore these periodicals, and interrogate the value systems, ideologies, and visual pleasures they contain.