Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Library Lives!


The Brautigan Library is alive and well in Vancouver, Washington, after traveling from Vermont to San Francisco, where it reposed in storage for four years. This collection of unpublished manuscripts written by "everyday authors" will becomea permanent collection of the Clark County Historical Museum, the former 1909 Andrew Carnegie library building in downtown Vancouver.

As one of the "everyday authors", I am gratified to learn that this funny bunch of writing, about 400 manuscripts inspired by a fictional library in a 1971 novel by Richard Brautigan, will be preserved.

The Digital Technology and Culture Program at Washington State University, headed by Dr. John F. Barber, is working with students and a team of local and international volunteers to reopen the Brautigan library and to "continue its original mission of connecting writers and readers of personal narratives".

According to the Library's web page (http://www.thebrautiganlibrary.org/) plans call for the organization to collect and circulate unpublished digital manuscripts and to "provide opportunities for research, conferences, exhibits, and creative activities."

Dr. Barber says "The Brautigan Library is not about publishing, or even about literature. It's about people telling their stories in a democratic way. It is a public home for personal narratives in a digital age."

I'm not sure how I feel about The Dioscuri's being called non-literary or about being called an "everyday author" (whatever that means), but I'm glad the Library is coming out of the basement.

1 comment:

jfbarber said...

Ms. Benedict,
Nobody is calling your contribution to The Brautigan Library "non-literary," especially in the implied sense that it lacks a certain quality of writing, content, style, or canon attractiveness.

On the contrary, your manuscript was accepted into The Brautigan Library without regard to its content or quality of writing. It will continue to be celebrated as such and we hope that many people will visit the Library installation at the Clark County Historical Museum and spend time reading through your manuscript, which will be freely available on the bookshelves.

As for "everyday writers," clearly they are persons such as yourself who write everyday for the sake of sharing their thinking and feeling with others, for communicating across time and distance with others who seek engagement in a narrative community.

Finally, The Brautigan Library was never held or stored in San Francisco. It has always been based in Burlington, Vermont. It will now, as you say, move to Vancouver, Washington, where it will become a permanent, interactive exhibit. Future plans call for reopening the Library for the digital submission of narratives in many forms and formats.

While I appreciate the promotion, I am not the Director of the Digital Technology and Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver, but rather a faculty member. I will indeed work with students and community volunteers to operate The Brautigan Library in the spirit originally imagined by Richard Brautigan in his novel The Abortion.

In that regard, I hope you will consider submitting another manuscript, and I encourage all your readers to do the same.

Thank you for this discussion of The Brautigan Library. It is quite exciting that the original spirit lives on in contributing authors such as yourself, and others who enjoy sharing their writing.

Best wishes,
John Barber