By: By Marc Fischer and Public Collectors
5.5 in X 8.5 in
From the back cover:
In the 8th floor reference collection, the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center houses the Chicago Artist Files—a series of file cabinets measuring well over 70 linear feet with materials connected to Chicago artists, art movements, and arts organizations spanning from 1890 to the present. Archived materials include news clippings, letters, photographs, slides, CDs, artists’ books, gallery invitations and original artwork. Visitors may request artists whose files they would like to view and a librarian will pull that material for them.
With support from the organization Sixty Inches from Center and CPL librarian Bob Sloane, I was able to peruse these files directly and this booklet surveys my experience of this rich, varied, and unusually democratic collection. In addition to writing about the library’s holdings, I’ve made a personal selection of items to reproduce in color. As with every publication in the Library Excavations series, my hope is that this booklet will inspire you to explore your local public library collections. In response to this specific publication, I would also like to see Chicago artists—and others who save Chicago art ephemera—contribute items that would improve this collection. Inside this booklet I detail who is qualified to be part of this archive (spoiler alert: it doesn’t take much) and how to access the files and submit material. — Marc Fischer
Library Excavations is a project and publication series by Public Collectors that highlights and activates physical materials found in public libraries. Library Excavations encourages intensive browsing of paper and print resources, particularly those that are under-utilized, or at risk of being withdrawn and discarded.