Scan, Edit, Copy, Paste, Appropriate and Steal This Book
May 7, 2009 7:45 AM   Subscribe

In June of 2004, fifty-eight friends and acquaintances joined in a collaborative labor project that lasted for eight days. They were instrumental in organizing the Prelinger Library in San Francisco, CA. One month from today will be the little library's fifth anniversary celebration. The library project/ public art project/ art installation/ archive/ part information center is an appropriation-friendly collection of books, periodicals, zines, and print ephemera. The library isn't organized by the Dewy Decimal system, but sorted by Megan Prelinger into four constant threads: landscape and geography; media and representation; historical consciousness; and political narratives from beyond the mainstream. The library is the less-known work of Rick Prelinger, and his wife, Megan. Rick is most commonly known for his video collection, which is the primary source of ephemera films on (All things Prelinger previously)
posted by filthy light thief (7 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The video collection is nothing short of awesome. I love the train movies.
posted by joecacti at 8:56 AM on May 7, 2009

I forgot to note that the Prelinger (digital) Archives hosted on currently include 3,766 items from the print library, alongside the 2,000 plus videos, and a measly 228 mashups.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:47 AM on May 7, 2009

I remember someone did a group presentation on the Prelinger library in the intro to libraries course. The organizational concept always struck me as interesting, but I have to reserve judgement on the organization of it because I haven't actually had the chance to poke around in it. I'm not a browser, I go to the shelf to find a specific thing. Thanks especially for the first link. It's a little sad how intently I'm reading this.

Great post.
posted by Decimask at 9:57 AM on May 7, 2009

The Dewy Decimal system just gets your books wet.
posted by ooga_booga at 10:14 AM on May 7, 2009

There's a lot more to the Prelinger ephemera archives, but I didn't want to make the FPP too big. His video archive was acquired by the Library of Congress. At that time (August 2002), his collection consisted of approximately 48,000 completed films and over 30,000 cans of unedited footage.

As of August 2002, the digital collection included 1,120 films, and was "soon to increase up to 1,500." Seeing as they're up to 2,000 plus films now, it seems the digitization has plateaued. Permission is NOT required to download or reuse materials from the Internet Archive, and no payment is required, but Prelinger makes/made money off of stock footage sale through Getty Images. The sales include higher quality stock a proper paperwork trail for legality-sake. Previous to this digitization, there were CD-ROMs, videotapes and videodiscs made between 1987 and 1996. They're out of print, but still floating around.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:23 AM on May 7, 2009

> The Dewy Decimal system just gets your books wet.

No, that's the plugged drain in the cafeteria above 500 linear feet of compact shelving.

Also: LOL.
posted by Decimask at 10:32 AM on May 7, 2009

The May 2007 issue of Harper's (unfortunately you need a login here) had a long article on the Prelinger project.
posted by goofyfoot at 1:51 PM on May 7, 2009

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