INDIE PHOTOBOOK LIBRARY: Travelling Archive of Independent Photography

By Gabriel Fraga de Cal. March 22, 2012


Larissa Leclair had a hobby: she enjoyed losing herself in the world of libraries and archives. Leclair also had another passion: photography. They say that her interest in archives began during her university years, while doing some research at Yale’s Library. Today, Larissa has the world’s largest indie collection of photography books.

The Indie Photobook Library (iPL) was founded in 2010; two years later, it has 780 books. Leclair, a photographer converted to collecting, became aware of the exclusion endured by self-published books. We imagine that her observation was simple: the fact that nobody spends time archiving the work of independent photographers doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it.

And that is how Leclair’s project began. The iPL is, for now, a travelling archive-library: it doesn’t have a defined physical site and jumps from museum to museum, from gallery to gallery, from festival to festival. The rules to become part of the collection are simple: it must be a photographic work, self-published or, at the most, a limited edition book.

The iPL is a latent proof that the publishing world we knew sways to new winds. Now you can self-publish and self-distribute: like some sort of DIY. Leclair receives books from all around the world: Middle East, Africa, Serbia, China, France, Holland Germany, Finland, Peru, Argentina, and a long etcetera. On their website you can browse all and each one of the volumes (cover of the copy and technical details). The iPL works as an archive: everybody can look up, nobody can borrow. In the end, we are talking about rare volumes; for some of them there are two or three copies.

The number of works that come out thanks to the new self-publishing methods is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s not only about filling a vacant in publishing; the truth is that the iPL is more than that. It is a laboratory where the evolution of homemade publishing is analyzed, a platform that gathers an essential change in the editorial world.

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