Monday, November 1, 2010

Browne Popular Culture Library a valuable resource

Ray Browne founded the Department of Popular Culture in 1973, after establishing The Journal of Popular Culture in 1967 and the Browne Popular Culture Library in 1969, according to Bowling Green State University's website. Head librarian Nancy Down said that Browne would come to the library almost every week before he died in 2009. As a professor emeritus, He made substantial book donations, reviewed books and continued his research in his office in the library.

According to Down, the library is the largest and most comprehensive popular culture archive in the nation, with slightly over 100,000 catalog items. There are similar libraries, such as Michigan State University's Comic Art Collection, which focuses on international comics, while the BPCL focuses more on American comics.
"Our vision was to be comprehensive and try to cover all areas of popular culture to some extent," Down said.

The library is useful in helping people understand how concepts such as gender and fashion were viewed in certain eras, according to popular culture instructor Charles Coletta. The library boasts memorabilia from several decades, including greeting cards, Sears catalogs (pictured), "TV Guide," graphic novels, romance novels and more. Down said that the library's goal is to collect primary materials to aid students in their research of these concepts.
"We try to anticipate what people will study and also try to go back and collect things that are older and maybe harder to get in the future," Down said.

Students entering the library are greeted with a wall of flair, which not only reflects certain time periods, but also the messages that people give off by the clothes they wear, feeding into the concept of semiotics, an important popular culture study.

They are also greeted with free gifts from the library.
-Photos by Bobby Waddle

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