[a visit to the brautigan library] "The library came into being because of an overwhelming need and destire for such a place. There simply had to be a library like this."

[I am a spacer, you don't see me]

In the top floor of the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington Vermont, the Brautigan Library lives as its own Library Autonomous Zone. I happened upon it by accident. I always try to stop in at the local library when I travel.

I remembered that I'd seen this library somewhere before -- on the road in Seattle. It visited Bumbershoot or the Northwest Bookfest and was displayed on a series of plastic shelves, using mayonnaise jars as bookends. I knew even then that this was something cool.

Since that time, I've tried to read every Brautigan book I could -- though I found some in the catalog of the Fletcher Library that I hadn't known existed before.

His writing has a gentle quality that reminds me of taking naps on summer afternoons or that color the sky gets when it is an absolutely clear day out.

I would have designed a whole Brautigan page, but there is already a very good one out there. Full size versions of these pictures can be found here.

[the man himself] Richard Brautigan wrote the book The Abortion. It was one of the reasons I wanted to become a librarian. In it, he creates a library full of unpublished writers. The library is always open, or never open depending how you look at it, and the author lives in the library. He never leaves. Librarian turnover is high.

When someone writes a book, they bring it to the library and place it on a shelf anywhere they choose. From time to time, the books are emptied out of the library and brought to caves in Northern California.

I don't know the origins of the Brautigan Library here in Burlington, but the plaque said "The American Forever, etc. presents The Brautigan Library A home for unpublished literature" There is also a note from Garry Trudeau on a nearby wall that says something to the effect of "neat idea, don't quit your day jobs"

I sort of like not knowing what the entire deal is about.

[I am a spacer, you don't see me] [poetry dispensing machine] The only other person who was in the area was a man at the one desk who was writing longhand on a legal pad. For all I knew he might have been the Brautigan Librarian of the moment. I asked if he minded that I was taking pictures and he said no.

There is a set of meta-books here -- books about the library they are in. They consist of a few birthday books where people wrote in with stories, poetry, or reminiscences on the ocasion of Brautigan's birthday. The assemblages of papers were then made into their own books. There are also two Librarian Books in which the Brautigan Librarians [who are they?] record what happens during their days at work at the Brautigan Library. Often nothing much happens at all, sometimes the librarians just muse on other topics. Sometimes they report statistics: two visitors, one person used the poetry dispenser.

This is a picture of the poetry dispenser. It looks a lot like a cigarette machine, but if you put 50 cents in, you can pull a handle and you will get some poetry out of it. The selection looks good.

[it ain't much, but it sure is homey] The books themselves run the gamut. There are several in the Brautigan style, some good, some less good. There are many others written in all sorts of styles. They mostly date from 1990 to 1993 or so.

The books are mainly typewritten with the ocassional handwritten or word processed book. They have almost all been bound with dark blue library binding. They are loosely grouped into categories such as Humor, Nature and Meaning of Life. I'm not sure who decided on the classification system.

There is a small card catalog on top of the poetry dispenser which has the books categorized according to Title and Author, but the cards are in no particular order. Well, they are grouped according to first letter, but the letters themselves are out of order. It's hard to tell if this is purposeful or accidental but you could look at every book in a long afternoon, so it hardly matters.

Brautigan's typewriter is here in a glass case as well as some foreign translations of his books.