One more library-love blog from the Free-Range Reader

Posted in Blogs, Literary, Visual Art

BY ZIA GIPSON, Oct. 11, 2013

“Revelations of a Searcher”

Our lives are full of searches… for our car keys, for the pair of reading glasses we swear we left on the bedside table, for that bill we need to pay or the cord needed to run this or that device. More pleasurably we’re in pursuit of the perfect melon at the farmer’s market, or the dahlia just bursting into bloom for our favorite vase. As if these searches weren’t enough, our lives are cluttered with electronic hunt and seek. We spend out days on the lookout for the message, photo or a document we were perusing before we got distracted.

Library users are hunter-gatherers by nature. We peruse the stacks and tap away on the electronic keyboard to access the databases. I started accessing library collections electronically more years ago than I can remember. In those early days one used a modem (remember those?) to log into library collections to reserve materials. Looking back, it’s amazing to me that someone like me, who is decidedly NOT an early adopter, was able to accomplish this.  Now of course, there’s a robust catalogue system to access the library’s holdings. But for the convenience of potentially seeing “everything”, we’ve lost the time worn wooden file cabinets holding the library card catalogue.  The cards held the accumulated wisdom of many librarians and we are poorer having lost the carefully annotated library cards.

I’m no pro at using the database, called Polaris, that operates Sno-Isle Libraries’ system, but I’ve recently been sleuthing the database using ‘publisher’ as my search field term. In a previous blog I mentioned my admiration for the publisher Thames and Hudson and my interest in almost any volume they’ve published.  Their well-designed and beautifully illustrated books cover many art-related topics from Native American to subcontinent Indian and all the cultures and artistic periods in between.

GUEST BLOG GIPSON 7 alley-bordered-by-trees-1884(1) (305x500)

One book by T&H I found this way is “Vincent’s Trees: Paintings and Drawings by Van Gogh” by Ralph Skea.  I learned that Van Gogh, as I have always known him, preferred to be known as Vincent. He signed his paintings with his first name and used that name rather than the patronymic Van Gogh. Skea’s survey of Vincent’s paintings and drawings about trees covers the short decade of Vincent’s life when he considered himself a “full time” artist. During that 10-year period he made over 900 paintings and 1100 drawings. Wow!

Another group of Thames and Hudson books might be of interest if you are planning a vacation in Europe. I recommend any of their ‘most beautiful villages in…” series. You will have to choose between Provence, Tuscany, and Greece to name three. I am sure they are working on the most beautiful villages on Whidbey Island, but it’s not in the catalogue yet.

Using the same search term, “publisher,” I’ve perused the listings for some other fine book producers.  Interweave Press is a solid bet for high quality artistic how-to books. Our Sno-Isle system shows a 185 records searching Interweave. “Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts” from Interweave is on my table as I write this. “Steampunk Sourcebook” published by Dover, of the clip art family, is one of 284 listings.  “Steampunk Sourcebook” and several other books include CDs of vector or jpeg images, which you can copy to your computer and manipulate to your heart’s content.

Lark Books is a publisher of delicious artistic eye candy.  You may have encountered the volume “500 Teapots” and 35 other books in the series (art quilts, beaded objects, bracelets, cabinets) with the same photography-dominant approach. Need some inspiration?  One of these “500’ series books is a good place to start.


Museums are publishers, too. Sno-Isle has 67 titles published by New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde” is an example of a MOMA book available at Sno-Isle. This catalogue is worth checking out if only to see the series of photographs of the Gertrude and Alice’s living rooms on which hung the modernist masterpieces of their collection. Each living-room image is captioned diagrammatically so one can see which pictures were hung exactly where over time. I also liked looking at the series of paintings of Gertrude’s and Alice’s white poodles all named Basket.

Missed an exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum? You might find the catalogue among the 19 books published by SAM in the collection. For example, “Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art” is the catalogue from last year’s knock-out art exhibition. North Light Books is a publisher of how-to-make-art books, as well as the manuals to help us creative types figure out what to do with our artistic product.

Sno-Isle also has both “2014 Photographer’s Market” and “2014 Graphic Designer’s Market” to prepare you for the marketplace.

Next time you’re in front of the computer, search Sno-Isle by publisher. I bet you’ll come across a new treasure with which to while away the hours.

My “Catch of the Day” is Robert Crais’ “Suspect,” about a detective and his German Shepherd police dog, Maggie. I hope Crais writes more of these featuring this duo.

In the meantime, don’t forget to put libraries and librarians in your bedtime prayers. I love my library!

Zia Gipson is a mixed-media artist who is dreaming up something to submit to Northwest Designer Craftsmen’s exhibition “Tangible Evidence,” which will be at Schack Art Center in Everett next year.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Zia Gipson for this series on the luscious life of the library lover, and all things bookish! Zia is signing off of Whidbey Life Magazine’s Blogs, but we’ve heartily enjoyed her informative contemplations on her latest book finds. Look for Gipson’s work as a prolific mixed-media artist on the island and wherever exquisite art is showing. Thank you, Zia!







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