Tuesday, February 14, 2023

[Updated] The archives of The East Village Eye now at the New York Public Library

The archives of the East Village Eye, the legendary magazine published from 1979 to 1987 that covered the arts, politics and social currents of the neighborhood at the time, have a new home at the New York Public Library. 

From the Eye's website
After numerous discussions and negotiations with the world's leading research institutions, we are thrilled to announce that the East Village Eye archive, consisting of documents, manuscripts, artworks, videos, ephemera and a complete run of the original printed publication, has been acquired by the New York Public Library.
And via editor-publisher Leonard Abrams: 
NYPL's acquisition of the East Village Eye archive is the perfect outcome of our years-long search for the best home for these materials. I can't think of another institution with the breadth and depth of interest, the institutional strength and the dedication to the common good that compares to the New York Public Library – not to mention where it lives. New York deserves to keep this essential trove of materials. It covers a time when it wasn't always easy to love New York City, but we always knew how important it was to bring these voices to the public and to preserve them, even if it meant dragging them from one storage space to another for some 35 years. 
There's a detailed piece about all this at The New Yorker, via writer Hannah Gold ... here's a passage with NYPL curator Julie Golia: 
Golia explained to us what would happen next: when the library acquires a collection, it is inspected for pests and water damage. When necessary, materials are isolated and treated in the Disaster Recovery room. Once they've been cleared, the collection moves into the archival-processing queue and the items are rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes. 
The library's staff begins to make the finding aid, essentially an index of the collection. This inventorying can be time-consuming, depending on the scale of the collection, which can vary widely — the Eye archive arrived in fewer than twenty containers, which is relatively small. The library's New Yorker archive, on the other hand, is stored in more than two thousand containers. 

Golia says the East Village Eye archives will arrive at the basement stacks in about a year. The finding aid will go live on the N.Y.P.L.'s Web site, and researchers will officially be able to view the materials. 
As Golia explained the process, Abrams was visibly moved, yet characteristically irreverent. "I don't care what order they’re in!" he insisted, when Golia told us it was library policy to preserve the way donors had grouped their own collections. "Leonard organized them in a certain way, because that's the way his mind worked, and part of what we're trying to preserve is the way his mind works." Abrams waved his hands dismissively, the journalist both flattered and uncomfortable with attention turned his way. Before we left the library's processing center, he had a question: Would they let him throw a party? 
Updated 3/13 ... the party has been rescheduled for March 23... there's a celebration of this union coming up on March 2 with The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black at Bowery Electric and other guests...
Previously on EV Grieve:
Q-and-A with Leonard Abrams, publisher of the East Village Eye


Anonymous said...

I am aware of an archive housed at the NYPL that was not kept in order to preserve the mind. In this case today's researchers truly would have benefitted from this collection being kept in order.
In addition other donated materials from other sources are mixed in to this archive. Once done hard to undo. Wondering when this policy started and by whom.

XTC said...

I always thought the James Chance cover was the best. Google if interested.

Andy said...

This is interesting in a few ways. The New Yorker articles gives a nice introduction to the archival practice: the processing and even the storage vault under Bryant Park, which is fun to see if you ever have the opportunity.
NYPL purchased the collection through Fournier's representation, it's not a donation ("life-changing" compensation for Leonard Abrams!). This may mean they only own the physical objects or they may have also acquired the intellectual property, mainly copyright. Purchasing has become more popular for digital reuse. Libraries used to rely on donations but since they didn't own the intellectual property they couldn't publish digital copies without the rights holder's approval.
Also it's kind of a sick burn on NYU's Fales Collection that specializes in NYC's downtown art scene. I wonder if it was the sticker price or something else.

Anonymous said...

I remember how excited the band, Disturbed Furniture, in the 1980s was whenever they got an upcoming gig "pick" recommended in the "Eye".

Simon E said...

This was essential reading for younger me in the eighties, am so happy that it’s being archived

John Penley said...

Thanks to Spencer Rumsey and Leonard my first ever published photos were published in the Eye. They were from the Contra war in Nicaragua in 1983. Ironically enough , that issue is in my photo archive at Tamiment Library and I hope this archive too.