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Topic: Reference libraries for magicians?
Message: Posted by: Mindbender (Apr 26, 2004 12:53PM)
I sometimes read postings, often having to do with cards, that refer to some book, lecture notes, or video long out of print.

So my question is: Are there any large reference libraries accessible to the magic fraternity?

I am aware there are a number of large private collections, but nothing with public access.

The sad fact of the matter is that those of us who haven't been into magic for decades have no ready access to numerous out-of-print materials. And whilst Dover has reprinted a number of public domain books, and e-books reprints are becoming increasingly common, most out-of-print materials will likely never be reissued.
Message: Posted by: prospero (Apr 26, 2004 09:48PM)
Well, seeing as you are in Toronto, you do not have access to the Magic Castle library (members only). magicbookshop.com and lybrary.com have some stuff, but only to buy.
Message: Posted by: Mxn (Apr 26, 2004 09:52PM)
Yea Toronto!!!!
Message: Posted by: Mindbender (Apr 27, 2004 02:03AM)
On 2004-04-26 22:48, prospero wrote:
Well, seeing as you are in Toronto, you do not have access to the Magic Castle library (members only). magicbookshop.com and lybrary.com have some stuff, but only to buy.


I'm curious how large the Magic Castle library holdings are? And are you saying that guests would not be welcome to visit to do research there?
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Apr 27, 2004 03:41AM)
The Castle Library is open only to members. It's one of the biggest perks of membership.

Although sometimes, just sometimes, if you're there with another member, and just want a brief look around, your friend can convince the librarian on duty to "look the other way."
Message: Posted by: MField2000 (Apr 27, 2004 03:21PM)
There's also an excellent members' only library in England's Magic Circle.

But remember that magic is an arcane art, with its secrets hard won.

My own private library is about 1,000 books, 500 videos and about 800 magic magazines. And that's tiny compared to Jon Racherbaumer's collection.

You can imagine how much I'm looking forward to packing everything up later this year when I move to England.

Matt Field
Message: Posted by: thumbslinger (Apr 27, 2004 04:05PM)
However, if you come to LA, go to the downtown Los Angeles branch. They have two shelves full of older magic books that have some great stuff. Many are single copies and cannot be checked out, but you can xerox to your pocketbook's content.

Many larger city libraries have a surprizing amount of magic books...or, they have older stuff that lends great inspiration.

It happens, I suppose, but Gordon Bean wouldn't intentionally let a non-member nor associate member browse the library. As was mentioned, it's really one of the major perks magicians members have. (Just to make things clear)
Message: Posted by: AlexWong (Apr 27, 2004 07:07PM)
MField, all I can say is WOW! 1000 books? 500 videos? That's quite a library you have there. Do you go through them cover to cover or as and when you feel like picking something up?
Message: Posted by: Mindbender (Apr 28, 2004 02:27PM)
Many larger city libraries have a surprizing amount of magic books...or, they have older stuff that lends great inspiration.

Alas, the reference library in the large city I call home has fairly slim holdings of the older books. Not to mention an incomplete set of Tarbell and nary a copy of Greater Magic.

As for back issues of magic magazines, forget about it. Instead, I have to resort to long-time members of my club when I wish to refer to back issues.


On 2004-04-27 20:07, AlexWong wrote:
MField, all I can say is WOW! 1000 books? 500 videos? That's quite a library you have there. Do you go through them cover to cover or as and when you feel like picking something up?


While impressive, I've been told of at least one private collection containing in excess of 100,000 books. This is the type of library I would like to see open to all those interested in magic.
Message: Posted by: Julie (May 9, 2004 11:57PM)
'Suggest you look at the Society of American Magicians film and tape library for a very broad range of historical through contemporary "live" performances.
Of course, it's assumed you are a member.
Message: Posted by: lchemist (May 22, 2004 03:25PM)
Which are the largest magic libraries?
How large is Mr. Racherbaumer's library? And Copperfield's?
Who owns the 100,000 volumes mentioned?

Thank you,

Message: Posted by: Larry Barnowsky (May 25, 2004 02:51PM)
The lack of a central database of magic literature is a big problem when you try to review the literature regarding an effect you have devised or invented. In the medical world there are many sources including the original Index Medicus. So then you write a book or submit an effect to a magazine and get hammered by the I dotters and T crossers that you didn't give credit to so and so in this journal or that book. We see this every day at the Café and I can see how a new person in magic would feel ovewhelmed. I myself have a fairly large collection of magic books but not all of us are that fortunate.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (May 25, 2004 03:06PM)
This begs a HUGE question: Can we have our cake, and hide it too?

I suppose we could bemoan the problem for a while...

Or we could start to address it's significance and seek some solutions.

Do we want to keep secrets from ourselves as a community? More generally is 'secrets' a red herring for our audiences or is it something we hold of value?

I'm up for paying 100 dollars a year for access to an online library. If the Magic Castle stuff were online, I'd pay for access. Obviously this would have to make a distinction between stuff in print that one can buy, and stuff that has long gone from print and that has become 'reference' material and that one can not buy anymore. Deep waters.

Here is the other side of the coin:

Why should anyone entering the craft care about credits to books that for all practical purposes they will never see or inspect? Why not take the position that if it is not in the magic shop... it does not exist except in fables, and who cares about the fables of a failed history? IE if the stuff had value to the community, it would be in print.

Both sides have merit, and some hard pragmatic virtue. What we decide today may decide our legacy to the generations that follow.

Just my musings today... at 4pm. Comes 5pm... somebody might re-invent the Hamman count and want to publish without citing because they invented the thing without prior knowledge.
Message: Posted by: Larry Barnowsky (May 25, 2004 03:39PM)
The idea of a subscription to a large magic library is a good idea. I too would be willing to pay $100 for that. Of course, access would have to be through some gatekeeper to keep the curious out. This would provide a great resource and actually advance creative endeavors. Putting it online would be a big undertaking. Maybe David Copperfield could make this happen. There would be some books like the Harbin book which were restricted to a limited number of copies and specifically disallowed republication and that I assume would include online editions. For currently available books, perhaps summaries of their contents could be online and individual chapters could be purchased. There are too many ramifications to ponder.
Message: Posted by: truthteller (May 25, 2004 04:06PM)
I finally obtained a set of Potter Indices. In the 50's Jack Potter created a cumulative index of every magic effect in print from 1584 until the present time. It is a research tool that I have been seeking for the longest time and for those that are interested in such things, worth finding.

As to Jon's postings, there is great value in seeing how others thought before you. Many times an effect makes it ways down the cow paths of variations so when it reaches the modern magi, so much is misunderstood or lost that the gem it once began as is damaged. It is always a reward to find the original source for an effect and learn some tip or touch that makes the piece sing that everyone else seems to have missed.

Of course, as soon as another magician sees you perform it with that touch, you can be sure it will go into their performance too, but that is another matter, no?
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (May 25, 2004 04:57PM)
Larry, I'd like to agree about some of the 'limited edition' books, but then we face someone reinventing the zig-zag having seen a picture of the thing... and thus the legacy of 'robert harbin' would be diminished once again. BTW, that is one of the FEW books in conjuring I would like to spend some time with. I was quite young when I had one in my hands in Tannen's and would like to give the thing a good read to properly enjoy the guy's inventive brilliance.

This really does come down to a legacy issue. Do we wish to use a model akin to natural selection which asserts that things of value will stay with us and all else will return to the mulch of our race memory to be rediscovered should it become pertinent again? This is a workable model. Do we wish to use our technology and culture to build upon the brilliance of our predecessors and keep our knowledge accessible?

About gatekeepers... writing as one who has had things taken and abused... and also as one who has been given a great deal of information ... I have no liking for gatekeepers. The notion of someone deciding who gets access to what is repugnant to me. There has to be a better way than petty personal issues and politics to make sure the bright and talented can get what they seek.
Message: Posted by: Larry Barnowsky (May 26, 2004 10:37AM)
The idea of gatekeeper was to prevent a non magician or prankster from downloading our secrets and spreading it over the internet like Napster did for music. It wouldn't be foolproof and there could be abuses but I would favor some type of gatekeeper even if it was a computer screening program that asked some basic questions to verify that the user was legit.