Photobook Library

Posted in Photobooks (general) by charlie b. ward on July 16, 2010

The Indie Photobook Library was founded in 2010 by Larissa Leclair. It is an archive that strives to preserve and showcase self-published photobooks, photobooks independently published and distributed, photography exhibition catalogs, print-on-demand photobooks, artist books, zines, photobooks printed on newsprint, limited edition photobooks, and non-English language photography books to be seen in person through traveling exhibitions and as a non-circulating public library. Having a specific collection dedicated to these kinds of books allows for the development of future discourse on trends in self-publishing, the ability to reflect and compare books in the collection, and for scholarly research to be conducted in years, decades, and centuries to come. The Indie Photobook Library has an open and ongoing submission policy. Books can be donated by the artist, indie publisher, or private collector.

info about submissions and more here

for news and more, follow on the Indie Photobook Library on facebook here

4 Responses

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  1. Little Book Monger? said, on July 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    While I appreciate and share Ms. Leclair’s enthusiasm for independent photography publications and I do agree that someone or someplace somewhere should serve as an archive for such material, I question the guidelines for the Indie Photobook Library inaugural exhibition at the Flash Forward Festival. It seems that Ms. Leclair is asking photographers to donate their books to her archive, and that she will only consider books for the exhibition if a copy is given to her/the archive. Yes, yes, I realize that Ms. Leclair may not have the funds to acquire all of the photo books, but this exhibition policy feels a little too close to “pay to play” for comfort. There is just something about it that does not feel right. Am I missing something?

  2. Lou said, on July 16, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    I’m inclined to agree with the above post it doesn’t feel right at all! I’d feel much better if this was directly aligned with a institutional library that was guaranteeing indefinite storage
    and protection. Who ends up owning the books?

  3. Larissa Leclair said, on July 17, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Thank you both for your comments.

    Hopefully I can answer some of your concerns.

    The Indie Photobook Library is first and foremost an archive for these books.

    To quote directly from the site “[t]his collection will accept submissions on an ongoing basis and will be a public non-circulating library. In the far future the collection will be donated in its entirety to an appropriate archive. The intent is to have the material accessible in one location for the interested public and scholars looking at the work of a particular photographer or studying trends in contemporary photobook publishing. Each year, exhibitions will be curated from the collection where viewers will have the opportunity to handle and peruse the books.”

    The exhibitions are definitely not “pay to play.” There is no entry fee, there is no entry form. Like many non-profit organizations just starting out with no permanent space, the exhibitions serve as temporary public spaces for the collection.

    Please contact me directly if either one of you have any more questions. I would be glad to answer them. I also welcome you to make an appointment to come and take a look at the collection if you cannot make it to Toronto or FotoWeek DC.

    The Indie Photobook Library is only two months old and has already received encouragement, support, and many, many books. I invite you to watch it develop over the next ten, twenty, fifty years.

    Larissa Leclair

  4. Let Books Move said, on July 19, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Thank you for your response, Larissa.

    I think the Indie Photobook Library is a wonderful idea, but I continue to question its current methods and execution.

    I also prefer to continue this discussion in a public forum, as it does concern many members of the photography and self-publishing communities.

    You state that there is no entry fee, but there is a cost of entry. You require that self-publishers give you their books for free. These books often produced at great personal cost. The difference is only semantic.

    I am not surprised to learn that you have received many, many books, because there will always be many, many photographers who will always, always be eager to share their work, no matter what the costs or benefits. The recent level of activity in self-publishing is very exciting, but there is a growing list of individual photographers, bloggers and organizations that are being inundated with free books, whether they ask for them or not, as photographers clamor to promote their work.

    I wonder how many books Alec Soth or Martin Parr receive every week, and what percentage of the books will ever be opened after their first viewing, let alone displayed, exhibited or donated. The sheer amount of potential waste of artistic material is really quite depressing. This is not to fault Soth or Parr; they have done nothing but show their enthusiasm for books. But Larissa, you are actively soliciting free books, and that is the primary reason why I feel compelled to ask you for further clarification.

    You also state that the Library is a non-profit organization. Is this in fact the case? If so, then is it not true that photographers could at the very least get a “tax write-off” for their book donations? There are legal implications involved, so please confirm.

    Again, I want to say that I think the Indie Photobook Library is a wonderful idea, but I personally feel that we could all benefit from more information about your intentions and plans.

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