COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: Esopus, Issue 20: Special Collections


A Pick of the Week from Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Cristina Favretto

Esopusa publication released only twice a year, seeks to capture certain subjects with a powerful visual form of storytelling. Issue 20’s presentation on the outside is particularly eye-catching, using the design of the marbled interiors of old books to line the package, which holds a series of booklets inside that discuss several topics that form an overall “Special Collections” narrative. Many of the booklets are designed to look like archival folders, and the content within offers a harmonious blend of text and imagery in order to approach a variety of subject matters that remain unmitigated by intrusive ads or heavy editing.

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Of particular note is one booklet entitled “Between the Lines: Used Coloring Book Pages from the Collection of Rich Remsberg,” which offers a deep and rich analysis on the psychology behind the way children color in coloring books. Rich Remsberg himself describes his impetus for collecting coloring books by stating, “Younger kids color pages in ways that are just completely aleatoric, without connection to what the image is or with any kind of semiotic relevance whatsoever. But they offer not just this fearless use and combination of color; they provide a window into the developing human mind as it’s learning how to map and code, but with no sense of subtlety or modulation,” indicating that even seemingly insignificant and esoteric items such as coloring books have broader value in our society and archival relevance.

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Other booklets feature pieces on cassette tapes, postcards, personal effects, early drafts of lyrics, and even Matthew Weiner’s notes for Mad Men, all of which offer compelling arguments for why these materials are being collected and the importance they serve in capturing the unspoken dialogue between humans and their possessions from past eras to modern times.

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.