Bibliocraft — Book Review

With my already massive collection of crafting books threatening to take over my house, I’m pretty careful about what books I acquire. But when I heard that Jessica Pigza had written a book about crafting and libraries, I had to get a copy! Jessica is a fantastic person, and crafting and libraries are 2 of my favorite topics. Jessica is not exactly a close friend of mine, but I have met her several times. She is a librarian at the New York Public library, and she organizes events called Crafternoons, where you can go and do crafts on Saturdays with other like-minded people at the library. I used to go when my kids were smaller, but now that they are older and in school all day, I tend to spend my weekends with them. When they are just a little bit older still, I think I will start taking them to the Crafternoons with me.

But about the book. As far as I can tell (and I have a lot of craft books), this one is absolutely unique. But now that I’m reading it, I just can’t believe that EVERYONE is not writing about this topic. Really, what better combination could there be than books and crafting?

The first section of the book contains a wealth of amazingly useful and interesting information. Jessica describes the different types of libraries (public v private; closed v open stacks, digital, etc) and how to navigate through the different libraries. This is great info to have because I know from personal experience that world-class libraries can be intimidating. There’s so much there, but generally there’s no browsing allowed, so you need to be able to tell someone what you’re looking for. She tells you how to properly prepare for your visit, how to approach the staff, and what to expect in order to get the most out of your library experience. She litters her advice with real-world experiences of the designers featured in her book while preparing the projects in the book.

Jessica includes many, many clever suggestions for searching, like, “Narrowing your results to works published before 1923 is an easy way to limit your sources to those in the public domain”. Duh, of course it is, but this never occurred to me before.

She also includes a wonderful list of “recommended library collections”, most of which are available online, which has already provided me with hours of amusement and will continue to do so.

The second part of the book shows projects by artists based on library resources. The projects are all very nice, but the best part is that after each project, Jessica writes a couple of pages about exactly which books provided the inspiration for this project, where these books are found, and how to find similar books on this topic. These topics are things like botany, animal illustrations, soil profiles, and penmanship samples.

This book reminds me of my love of books and libraries, which I kind of forgot about in recent years. When I was in high school, the teachers sent us to the local universities (there were 2 in my town) to use their research libraries, and there was a tremendous sense of discovery in reading all these old sources. Then when I was in college, I spent hours at the library doing my classwork and smelling that library smell.

Maybe it’s time for me to visit a good research library.

Here’s a link to the book on Powell’s so you can see what it looks like.

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6 Comments

  1. lauriesannie
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    For serendipity, indeed for sheer pleasure, nothing will ever beat the old card catalog. And, of course, the library smell.

    • Posted April 11, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Card catalogs are great! There’s a section in the book about how to use them.

  2. Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As a research addict and developing sewist, I took a look at this book and had to order it right away. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink | Reply

    I had a stack pass to the Main library at Berkeley when I was there, and used to spend many happy hours just looking. This looks like a wonderful book. Thank you!

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