The Librarian and the Pornographer

From the New York Public Library’s Acquisition Policy (1973):

Works of a Pornographic Nature

Pornography is defined as writings of an obscene or licentious character. The term, “works of pornographic nature,” is used here to include works judged pornographic by current standards and works formerly judged or considered to be pornographic.

3. Material sold in bookstores which specialized in “pornography for profit” 

The third category of material does not appear in lists or catalogs, but is to be found in outlets or bookstores specializing in “pornography for profit.” Three or four times a year a member of the staff will be delegated to purchase samplings of books and periodicals at these outlets. Collection in this category will be on a selective basis.

Audre Lorde Goes Fishing – Recreation and the Feminist Body

This is very minor but very wonderful piece of information uncovered during my current archival research at the New York Public Library:

In 1981, Audre Lorde was presented with the Gay Book Award of the American Library Association’s Gay Task Force (now the Stonewall Book Award), for her memoir, The Cancer Journals. The adjudication committee described the book as having, “the poignancy and immediacy of this black lesbian poet’s responses to physical and emotional trauma… This effort to retain control of her body, to preserve her sense of herself in a changed body, is intelligent and inspiring.”

Instead of a trophy or certificate, the Gay Task Force would present each recipient with a personalized token to honour their achievement. Audre Lorde was presented with the following “token”: “a set of fish hooks (for her favorite pastime).”

Rationing My Book Darts

I have these really beautiful bronze book darts that Dylan and Bridget gave me for Christmas. Later my friend Brendan gave me a package when he came back from a trip to Montreal and I added those to my collection. They are from this stationary shop in Montreal but I think you can also get them elsewhere. There is nothing about them that I don’t love.

Maybe some people use these as their main book annotating device but I feel like they are very precious and so I use them sparingly, according to the instructions printed on the back of the package: “An exact linemarker for any line worth finding.” I try to limit myself to one, sometimes two per book. I like the idea of coming back to a book when I’ve mostly forgotten the details to see which single annotation I put above all the others by marking it with a metal dart instead of just a pen.

This one is from a few weeks ago (comps reading):

The dogged, defensive narrative stiffness of a paranoid temporality, after all, in which yesterday can’t be allowed to have differed from today and tomorrow must be even more so, takes its shape from a generational narrative that’s characterized by a distinctly Oedipal regularity and repetitiveness: it happened to my father’s father, it happened to my father, it is happening to me, it will happen to my son, and it will happen to my son’s son. But isn’t it a feature of queer possibility–only a contingent feature, but a real one, and one that in turn strengthens the force of contingency itself–that our generational relations don’t always proceed in this lockstep?”

– Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading, Reparative Reading,” in Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (2003)