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Responses > The Brautigan Library

Richard Brautigan's legacy is his continued inspiration for creative efforts by others who interpret his work, or create their own in response. This node provides an overview of The Brautigan Library inspired by Brautigan, and links to further information and resources. Use the information below to learn more about creative responses to Brautigan's works.
The Brautigan Library is an experiment in community literacy focused on the sharing of unpublished manuscripts contributed by their authors. Founded by Todd Lockwood, in Burlington, Vermont, in April 1990, the original library collection included 316 unpublished manuscripts. The Brautigan Library was moved from its original home in Burlington, Vermont, to Vancouver, Washington, in 2010, where it became a permanent installation at The Clark County Historical Museum. The Brautigan Library continues currently as a collaborative research and community-outreach project between the Historical Museum and The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver.

The Brautigan Library is inspired by a fictional library described by Washington-born author Richard Brautigan in his 1971 novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. Brautigan's imaginary library provided a repository for manuscripts outside the interests of the commercial publishing industry, something with which Brautigan had personal experience. Authors were free to place their manuscripts wherever they liked on the library's shelves. Although no one could come to the library to read their manuscripts, the authors seemed happy that their visions and voices were collected and preserved.

The Brautigan Library, under Lockwood's directorship, attempted to actualize Brautigan's vision by encouraging submissions of unpublished manuscripts regardless of topic or quality of writing. Additionally, The Brautigan Library was open for browsers and readers. The original Brautigan Library closed in 2005 and placed in storage. In 2010, the entire library and all its contents were moved to Vancouver, Washington.

The current Brautigan Library is comprised of both analogue and digital manuscripts. Of the 316 uniquely titled physical manuscripts collected in Burlington, Vermont, 304 are now part of the collection in Vancouver, Washington (some were lost or removed from the collection during its time in Vermont). Of these, twenty eight are manuscripts in two or three volumes, bringing the total number of typed and bound manuscripts to 332. The number of digital manuscripts submitted to The Brautigan Library continues to grow.

The Brautigan Library is available for reading during the open hours of The Clark County Historical Museum. No manuscripts circulate outside the collection. Each year, on the last Sunday of January, The Brautigan Library hosts National Unpublished Writers' Day to celebrate Brautigan's birthday and the democratic nature of writing broadly defined. Select "Events" in the menu above for more information.

Lockwood provides this account the origins of The Brautigan Library.

Todd Lockwood. Email to John F. Barber, 27 February 2004.
The Brautigan Library closed in late 1995. The Fletcher Free Library, also in Burlington, agreed to take over and display the manuscripts, along with Brautigan's glasses and typewriter. This arrangement lasted until 2005 when The Fletcher Free Library, in their News from the Fletcher Free Library announced "Brautigan Library Going Home to San Francisco."
The Brautigan Library, an archive of literature written by unpublished authors, was established in the early 1990s on lower College Street as a brainchild of local entrepreneur Todd Lockwood. It is based on a "library" described in Richard Brautigan's The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. Since 1996 the entire Brautigan collection (totaling a few hundred thin volumes) has been housed on the 2nd floor of the Fletcher Free.

Lockwood has negotiated with the San Francisco Public Library to arrange a permanent home for the Brautigan Library at the Presidio Branch of the SFPL, the exact location where Brautigan placed his fictional 24-hour-a-day library in The Abortion. The books have been carefully packed and prepared for their trip west, and the Fletcher Free Library is honored to have been part of the process of getting these books placed safely in their proper home.
Online Resource
This announcement at the Fletcher Free Library website

The move to the Presidio Branch of the San Francisco Public Library never happened. The Brautigan Library has been in storage since January 2006.

Todd R. Lockwood is a fine art portrait photographer and writer in Burlington, Vermont.

Online Resource
Todd R. Lockwood website
The Brautigan Library collection currently held by The Clark County Historical Museum is comprised of 304 uniquely titled manuscripts. Of these, twenty eight are manuscripts in two or three volumes, bringing the total number of typed and bound manuscripts to 332. A total of fourteen manuscripts were lost from the original Brautigan Library collection in Burlington, Vermont.

The manuscripts in the collection are cataloged according to The Mayonnaise System, the first book classification system since the Dewey Decimal System, developed by Melvil Dewey in 1876.

The Mayonnaise System consists of thirteen general categories: Adventure, All the Rest, Family, Future, Humor, Love, Meaning of Life, Natural World, Poetry, Social/Political/Cultural, Spirituality, Street Life, and War and Peace. The current holdings in each category are
  • Adventure 25
  • All the Rest 44
  • Family 25
  • Future 4
  • Humor 19
  • Love 17
  • Meaning of Life 21
  • Natural World 20
  • Poetry 47
  • Social/Political/Cultural 55
  • Spirituality 14
  • Street Life 4
  • War and Peace 9
Mayonnaise System A new book classification system, the first since the 1876 Dewey Decimal System, was developed for The Brautigan Library. Called The Mayonnaise System, it catalogs manuscripts according to thirteen general categories: Adventure, All the Rest, Family, Future, Humor, Love, Meaning of Life, Natural World, Poetry, Social/Political/Cultural, Spirituality, Street Life, and War and Peace. Category sections of the library's shelves in the original Brautigan Library were marked by mayonnaise jars. The Mayonnaise System borrowed its name from the last chapter of Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America.

As they were submitted to The Brautigan Library, individual manuscripts were cataloged according to subject, the year of their submission, and the order of their receipt. So, for example, LOV 1992.005 indicates the manuscript was the fifth one submitted in 1992 to the LOV(e) category of the library's collection.
The Brautigan Library issued a newsletter titled The 23 that ran seventeen issues from December 1990 (Vol. 1, No. 1) to 1995 (Vol. 5, No. 1-2). "The 23" is the title of a chapter in Brautigan's The Abortion and describes the unpublished works of twenty-three unknown American writers.

In the first issue of The 23 Todd Lockwood, founder, provided this history of the Brautigan Library
The Brautigan Library got started, in spirit, about twenty years ago when Richard Brautigan wrote his fourth novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. Among other things, this book helped redefine romance for the sixties counterculture—breaking away from simplistic gender roles, and offering up the possibility of relationships founded on mutual respect and communication, not just passion alone. It was a book that tended to have a profound effect on those who read it, evidenced by the "this book will change your life" inscriptions one often finds scrawled in old copies of the novel.

And, of course, Brautigan's book described a library—a weird little library where unknown, unpublished writing could find a home. As Brautigan put it, "This library came into being because of an overwhelming need and desire for such a place. There just simply had to be a library like this." When I first read those words in the mid-seventies, I couldn't have agreed more. Such a library seemed like a splendid idea. It seemed perfectly plausible to me that someone, somewhere would one day open such a library, using Brautigan's story as a model.

Well, life nearly began imitating art shortly after the novel was released: Brautigan had given his readers an actual library street address in The Abortion, right down to the zip code. As it turned out, the address was indeed the address of a library—the Presidio Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. They were subsequently flooded with inquiries from all across America, wondering if they indeed accepted unpublished manuscripts. Sadly, the answer was "no."

Years ticked by as I pursued a career in photo-portraiture, and in 1980 started a music recording studio in Vermont. The Abortion continued to own a space on my bookshelf, and it got a rereading every year or so. With every reading, I would be reminded of the library idea. By the mid-eighties, I really began thinking of the library as "something I was going to do." It was simply a matter of when.

Brautigan's suicide in 1984 was a terrific blow to thousands of readers whose ideals survived the cynical seventies with the help of Brautigan's insights and humor. Coming to grips with the reality of his troubled life—a life perceived as fun-loving and well- founded—has not been easy. His death made the library idea seem a bit trivial, so it stayed on the back burner for another five years.

In August 1989, I happened to go to the film Field of Dreams with my wife. I had no idea what the movie was about, but before long it became clear that, for me, the movie was about building the Brautigan Library. Somehow, I knew the time had come to get things rolling. The very next day I called Brautigan's literary agent, and off we went.

The Brautigan Library idea has not been greeted with universal praise. A number of published authors have declined invitations to be advisory trustees to the library. In fact, one poet had her lawyer send us a cease and desist letter, to insure that her name wouldn't be associated with the library. The fact is, even when Brautigan was at the peak of his career, his own work was not held in high esteem by the literary community. He was an outsider. Academics thought his writing was trivial, yet his popularity was undeniable. He was writing for readers—not for writers.

Perhaps it was Brautigan's unpretentious approach to writing that made him such an inspiration to new writers. Probably no other American author since the sixties has inspired so many people to write down their story for the first time. Brautigan shows us that ideas need not be wrapped in layers of grammar and vocabulary to be relevant; that vision is the seed that makes for a moving piece of writing.

A few months ago, we received a two-page manuscript from a woman who drives a school bus. It was filled with spelling errors and incomplete sentences. While trying to decide whether or not to send it back for corrections, I finally just read it, as it was written. The short story tells of sunlight beaming through a snowstorm "like a diamond patch." So beautiful was this moment that she pulled the school bus off the side of the road so her passengers could enjoy it. I learned something in reading her story: Ideas with vision will usually survive a less-than-perfect presentation. But the most elaborate presentation in the world is no substitute for vision. In an era when technique is the most discernible asset one finds in most art and literature, this is indeed a concept worth pondering.

We already have all kinds of writing in the Brautigan Library, but the vast majority is writing which shares a personal vision. Many of our books are written in first person, which is, to me, a signal that we are already building an archive that will distinguish us from other libraries; that will be of use to historians; that will offer a unique, grass-roots view of America.
Issues of The 23
Read individual issues of The 23 as .PDF files. Very special thanks to Greg (The Yellow Dart) Philbrook for recovering the original production files from their long orphaned status and then producing these completely accurate digital facsimiles for each original print issue of The 23.

FAQs: Current Library

(The Brautigan Library is a permanent, interactive exhibit at The Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, Washington. These FAQs focus on this iteration of the Library. See below for FAQs associated with the legacy Library, which was located in Burlington, Vermont.)

What is The Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library is a collection of 304 manuscripts submitted by everyday writers keen to share their stories, free of restrictions on content and quality of writing, for general public reading. All these manuscripts were unpublished at the time of their submission to The Brautigan Library. Most of them remain so. These manuscripts represent ideas outside the mainstream; an opportunity for their authors to push their creativity, not be held hostage by the limits of commercial publishing success. The Brautigan Library is not so much about being published, or even about literature. Instead, The Brautigan Library is an experiment in democratic narrative and giving unpublished writing an opportunity for public reading.

What is the inspiration for The Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library is inspired by a fictional library described by Washington-born author Richard Brautigan in his 1971 novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. This library, modeled on the Presido Branch of the San Francisco Public Library System, right down to the zip code, provided an archive for manuscripts outside the interests of the commercial publishing industry. Authors were free to place their manuscripts wherever they liked on the library's shelves and although no one could come to the library to read the manuscripts collected there, everyone seemed happy that the visions and voices of unpublished writers were collected there.

What is the history of The Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library was first opened in 1990 in Burlington, Vermont, by Todd Lockwood, a Brautigan fan. True to Brautigan's vision, the Library accepted manuscripts from authors keen to tell their stories. Late in 1995, The Fletcher Free Library, also in Burlington, agreed to display the books in the collection. This arrangement ended in 2005 when negotiations were announced with the Presidio Branch of the San Francisco Public Library, the physical inspiration for Brautigan's fictional library. The negotiations for this move, however, failed to materialize and the Brautigan Library collection was placed in storage until its movement to Vancouver, Washington, in 2010.

What is the present location of The Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library is a permanent, interactive exhibit housed at The Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main Street, Vancouver, Washington, the 1909 Andrew Carnegie library building, Vancouver's first public library. Although the bound manuscripts may not be removed from the Historical Museum, they are available for general public reading during Museum business hours, as are the business papers and ancillary materials associated with the history of The Brautigan Library.

Why Vancouver, Washington?
There are several connections between Vancouver, Washington, and Richard Brautigan. First, Richard Brautigan is a Pacific Northwest native. Born in Tacoma, Washington, in 1935, Brautigan lived in Washington and Oregon until he left for San Francisco, California, in 1956. Brautigan's earliest publications were featured in Portland, Oregon, newspapers, just across the Columbia River from Vancouver. His writings frequently refer to hunting and fishing and observing life in the Pacific Northwest as a child. Despite his native son status, no other Washington city honors Brautigan's work, or carries out his vision of a democratic library where anyone might contribute a book which, in turn, anyone might read. This vision fits well with the goal of Andrew Carnegie as he built public libraries across the country: to promote self-improvement through learning. In a Carnegie library, patrons could freely browse the bookshelves, choosing for themselves what to read. The Clark County Historical Museum building is a 1909 Andrew Carnegie Library building, the first public library in Vancouver. Finally, there is a great deal of community interest and support for The Brautigan Library. This support is in keeping with Vancouver's history as the earliest center for transportation, commerce, and culture in the Pacific Northwest.

How are the manuscripts organized?
Manuscripts in The Brautigan Library are organized according to The Mayonnaise System, the first book cataloging system since the Dewey Decimal Classification system was developed 1876. The Mayonnaise System consists of thirteen categories: Family, Natural World, Spirituality, Love, Humor, Future, Adventure, Street Life, War and Peace, Social/Political/Cultural, Meaning of Life, Poetry, and All the Rest. Manuscripts are cataloged according to category, then year of submission, and then order in which they were received. For example, LOV 1990. 011 indicates the eleventh book submitted in 1990 to the category LOVE.

Who administers The Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library is a partnership between The Clark County Historical Museum and The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program (CMDC) at Washington State University Vancouver. The directing partners are Susan M. G. Tissot, executive director of the historical museum, and Dr. John F. Barber, faculty member of the CMDC program. The Brautigan Library is actively curated and administered by Barber and a community of local and international volunteers who coordinate access and outreach programs. Barber is also the developer and curator of Brautigan Bibliography and Archive (, an interactive, online resource generally acknowledged as the premier information source for the life and works of Richard Brautigan and the author of Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography and Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life.

What events and activities are associated with The Brautigan Library?
The unusual environment of The Brautigan Library promotes a number of outreach programs focusing on literacy and critical thinking. Chief among these is National Unpublished Writers' Day (NUWD), held the last Sunday of January. In addition to celebrating Brautigan's birthday, NUWD also seeks to celebrate writing broadly defined by offering workshops, lectures, and hands-on opportunities at numerous "creation stations" spread around the Museum. Local writers are invited to attend and present their experiences and interests in ways that will help aspiring writers. The agenda of each year's program is derived largely from spontaneity and serendipity, both driven by who attends and what they are interested to share.

What are the future plans for The Brautigan Library?
Future plans call for submission of digital manuscripts that will be cataloged, added to the collection, and circulated using contemporary digital technologies. True to Brautigan's vision, The Brautigan Library will accept and share manuscripts from authors keen to tell their stories. Says Barber, "The Brautigan Library is not about being published, or even about literature. It's about people telling their stories in a democratic way. It is a home for grassroots narratives in a digital age."

What are some gems of The Brautigan Library?
Truthfully, each of the nearly 300 manuscripts in The Brautigan Library is a gem, representing the unique vision and voice of its author. But, here are some suggestions to help you become more familiar with this writing from the heart.

The McNowski Papers by Donald McNowski of Burlington, Vermont, is a collection of satirical letters from ultra right wing cultural critical McNowski to the local newspaper, and responses to them from irate citizens. McNowski deals with patriotism, religion, and America's repression of drunk drivers with wit and verve.

Autobiography About a Nobody by Etherley Murray of Pittman, New Jersey, was submitted to forty publishers who, although they liked the story, did not publish manuscripts of nobodies. Murray's autobiography follows her from Depression-era Altoona, Pennsylvania, where she ate onion sandwiches, to postwar New Jersey, where she began "wearing coats that belonged to women who had just departed this life."

Albert E. Helzner, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, contributed sixteen philosophical manuscripts to The Brautigan Library. In 365 Bits of Wisdom to Enrich Your Daily Life, Helzner channels the pithiness of Benjamin Franklin when he writes, "I was once a soft and gentle person. I became hard as nails as a result of living through the reality of life."

FAQs: Legacy Library

According to Todd Lockwood, founder, these are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Brautigan Library
  • The library was inspired by Richard Brautigan's 1970 novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. In the story, Brautigan is the librarian in a quirky little library in San Francisco that only accepts unpublished writing.
  • We use Mayonnaise jars because our books are cataloged using our own Mayonnaise System. Unlike the Dewey Decimal System, we mix fiction and nonfiction together. And, oh yes, Mayonnaise was the last word in Richard Brautigan's  Trout Fishing In America.
  • The books in our collection were not judged in any way before being put on the shelf. Our only criteria was that the books had not been published before being sent to us.
  • While some of the writers in the Brautigan collection have career aspirations, most are ordinary people who just wanted to share a part of their life with us. The Brautigan was not intended to bring writers any closer to being published.
  • If a book got published after we received it, its was allowed to remain in the collection.
  • Sorry, the Fletcher Free Library is not accepting any more books into the Brautigan collection. The present collection serves as a memorial to the first five years of the Brautigan Library.
The following information about The Brautigan Library was provided in a brochure mailed to writers:
What is the Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library is a unique library for unpublished writing. It is a different kind of library, a library where writers can have their unpublished works put on public display for others to read.

What kinds of books would one find in such a library?
The Brautigan Library accepts writing of all sorts: biographies, stories, poetry, whether fiction or nonfiction, technical or literary. People send books they have written about subjects that interest them, about their lives and experiences, books that share their vision.

How are the books judged before they are accepted into the library?
The Brautigan Library has an open-door policy regarding submissions.  We don't judge the works we receive. Each book is treated with equal importance and given an equal opportunity to be read by the public. Our only requirement is that a work has not been previously published before being registered at the library.  It is up to the writer to determine if his or her work is worthy of a home in the Brautigan Library.

Is a book in the Brautigan Library more likely to become published?
While it's possible that books in our collection might be noticed by people in the publishing business, it is not our primary goal to see that this happens. The Brautigan Library offers its writers a different kind of benefit, a benefit that can't be measured in dollars or copies sold.

If the Brautigan Library is not interested in publishing, then why would writers want to be associated with it?
People write for many reasons:  to achieve personal growth, to move ahead, or simply to tell their story. Many thousands of people who write never get around to submitting their work to publishers for consideration. For many, the process of writing is its own reward. The Brautigan Library provides a home for ideas outside the publishing mainstream, and for its writers provides a sense of completion and a conduit for public expression.

With all the new books already crowding our bookstores and libraries, does it make sense to bring so many untested works to the public?
At the Brautigan Library we are concerned not only with the many books that never get read, but also with the books that never get written. Many people are discouraged from writing because of the competitive aspects of publishing, or because their work doesn't fit into a traditional category. Today, many writers feel their ideas are held hostage by an industry that relies on commercial success as a measure of a book's value. The Brautigan Library gives writers an opportunity to push the limits of their creativity, to offer radical points of view, to tell the tales that aren't being told in America's book shops and libraries. As one visitor aptly put it, "This library is not about being published, or even about literature. It's about people telling their story."

What sort of readership does the Brautigan Library have?
Unlike most libraries, whose readership is from the library's local area, the Brautigan Library attracts readers from all over the country. It is because our library offers such a unique view of our world that people come to visit us. We offer a "grassroots" perspective not found in bookstores and libraries. Our collection offers perhaps the most candid view of American life anywhere—unexpurgated and unaffected by marketing considerations.  Coming to the Brautigan Library is an adventure: reading through one-of-a-kind manuscripts, seeing the world from a different literary perspective, and discovering new ideas.

What format must a work be in to be registered at the Brautigan Library?
We encourage writers to send us their work in a standard manuscript format described in the application; however, it is not required. Works submitted in the standard manuscript format will be hard-cover bound by the library, and will thus be more likely to survive storage into the next century. Odd sizes of work will be accepted, but no library submission can exceed a maximum page size of 8 1/2 x 11 inches. Manuscripts may contain some photographs or illustrations, but the majority of your work should be literary. Collections of cartoons are considered literary and are welcome.  More information about format is found in the writer application form.

Will my work be reviewed by the library staff?
Because of our open-door policy toward the writing we receive, we make a point of not passing judgment on any works. All writing, regardless of content, is given an equal chance to reach our readership.

Will I retain ownership of the copyright on my work?
Yes, you will continue to own the rights to your work. Should a publisher become interested in it, you will be free to deal with a publisher as you wish. For its part, the library asks you (in the application) to allow publication of excerpts from your work in the library's own publications, newspaper columns, radio programs or other outlets in which the library communicates with the public. This helps promote the library and gives exposure to many of its writers. Should a publisher decide to publish your work after it is registered at the Brautigan Library, your work will remain in the library's collection.

If an excerpt of my work is used in a library publication, will I get paid for it?
No. As a nonprofit organization, the Brautigan Library does not have the resources to pay its writers. However, many writers may benefit from the exposure the library has given their work.

How will someone be able to find my work in the Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library, unlike other libraries which use the Dewey Decimal System, categorizes its books according to the Mayonnaise System. The Mayonnaise System utilizes an array of subject headings which more closely reflect the kinds of works the Brautigan Library receives. The Mayonnaise System includes such headings as Family, Natural World, War and Peace, and Meaning of Life. A visitor to the library will be able to locate a specific work by: its date, title, author, or catalog number. To facilitate browsing, we print a special title page for each book which includes the book's title, author, and a brief synopsis provided by the author. Also, the Brautigan Library does not differentiate fiction from nonfiction. This gives maximum creative latitude to writers and makes visiting the library a unique experience. Future developments will include an electronic catalog system that will assist visitors in finding works on a specific subject or idea.

Is the Brautigan Library a "lending library?"
No. One of the things that makes the Brautigan Library special is that our shelves are filled with very rare volumes. In fact, it can probably be assumed that there is only one copy of most of our books in a public place anywhere!  With so many valuable books to keep track of, we decided it was better to have people read them at the library. We've created a warm atmosphere especially for that purpose.

What happens when the library becomes completely filled?
Though we anticipate that such an event is many years away, one day we will begin moving books out of the main library building and into a long-term storage facility to make room for new works. It is anticipated that our storage facility will some day hold the most extensive collection of American literature anywhere,  a literary time capsule that will be of interest to future generations and historians.

How young can a Brautigan Library writer be?
The Brautigan Library welcomes manuscripts from writers of all ages. Any piece of intelligible writing is welcome. The library is interested in receiving works by young people that other young people will relate to. Most books for teenagers today are actually written by adults. The library is also interested in works written by aged people whose wisdom and experience could benefit new generations.

Is there a fee for registering a book with the library?
Yes.  A registration fee of $50 ($75 for books over 300 pages) is paid by the writer when a work is submitted. This money is used to catalog and hard-cover bind submissions and also to help pay the operating expenses of the library.  Unlike a typical public library, we don't receive support in the way of city or state taxes. The registration fee is important for our survival.

What if I can't afford to pay the registration fee?
Anyone who can't afford to pay the registration fee should send a letter requesting assistance to: Support a Writer Program, The Brautigan Library Foundation, P. O. Box 521, Burlington, Vermont 05402. Please give a brief description of your work, and tell us why you feel your work belongs in the Brautigan Library. Our Board of Trustees will consider you for library sponsorship. If you request assistance, please do not send your work until instructed to do so. Under the Support a Writer program you are limited to one submission per year, and a maximum manuscript length of 300 pages.

Is there a limit to the number of works a writer can send to the Brautigan Library?
No, but we do have some rules on size. Works submitted in standard manuscript format may be any length, however, those over 300 pages will be split into separate volumes, at an extra charge to the writer. Works submitted in smaller formats, such as spiral notebooks, may not be longer than 100 pages.

Does the Brautigan Library accept works in foreign languages?
At the present time we only accept works written in English. We do, however, welcome English-language works from other countries.

Who runs the Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library Foundation, Inc. is a Vermont nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to encourage personal achievement through writing, foster the sharing of ideas, and provide a home for unpublished American literature. The library is governed by a Board of Trustees made up of prominent literary and media professionals from the State of Vermont. Our Advisory Board includes writers, poets and other creative people from across America.

Can I contribute money to help the library?
Contributions to the Brautigan Library Foundation will help us realize our dream of establishing the Brautigan Library as a national cultural institution. We believe the Brautigan Library will fill a significant void in American literature, a void created by the ever-narrowing window of commercial acceptability in today's literary market. Our approach will allow a much wider spectrum of voices to be heard, even if only in a small way. Your generosity will benefit many writers who haven't yet been given the chance to tell their story. You can become a Supporting Member of the Brautigan Library with a donation of $25 or more. All Supporting Members will receive our quarterly newsletter, The 23. For every donation of at least $50, our Board of Trustees will sponsor one new work at the library through our Support a Writer program.  Please send your contribution to the post office box address below.

Where did the idea for the library come from?
The Brautigan Library was inspired by a fictional library described by the late American author Richard Brautigan (1935-1984). A hero of sixties and seventies counterculture, Richard Brautigan wakened a new generation of literature with his humorous, insightful works. His unconventional style cut through decades of literary tradition to catch the imagination of people everywhere. In his 1970 novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966, Brautigan described an unusual library where unpublished works written by ordinary citizens could find a home on the shelf. To bring such a library to life is both a unique tribute to Richard Brautigan and a valuable addition to our cultural identity.

The Brautigan Library Foundation, Inc.
Board of Trustees:
Todd Lockwood  Entrepreneur/Library Founder
Pamela Polston Writer/Editor
Will Marquess Writer/Teacher
Robert Cham Consulting Engineer
Ken Caffrey, Jr. Writer
David Beilman Architects
Phoebe Beilman Designer
Allan Kaufman Public Relations Consultant
Stephen P. Kiernan Writer/Editor
Virginia Soffa Writer
David Sunshine Attorney, Registered Agent

Advisory Board:
Robert Creeley Writer
W. P. Kinsella Writer
Thomas McGuane Writer
William Novak Writer
Fred G. Sullivan Screenwriter/Director/Actor
Jerry Greenfield Co-founder, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
Allan Nicholls Film Director, "Saturday Night Live"
Susan Green Director, Burlington City Arts
John Anderson Architect
Robert Shure Writer/Radio Fiction Personality

Brautigan Estate Advisor:
Ianthe Brautigan Swensen Richard Brautigan's daughter
The signature event associated with The Brautigan Library is National Unpublished Writers' Day. Held the last Sunday of January, this event, hosted by The Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, Washington, celebrates Brautigan's birthday and his vision to spotlight the voices of unpublished writers.

The event features a series of "creative stations" and workshops around the Museum, each offering different opportunities to learn or experience a broad approach to writing through a wide array of information, theory, and practice associated with writing broadly defined.

National Unpublished Writer's Day is free and open to anyone interested.
Anonymous. "Open-Mic Session To Celebrate Brautigan." The Columbian 11 January 2011: C3.
Also available online

—. "Unpublished Writers Will Gather at Museum." The Columbian 22 January 2011: E3.
(NOTE: this article downloads as a .PDF file)

—. "WSU Vancouver and Clark County Historical Museum Present National Unpublished Writers' Day." 7 January 2011.

—. "WSU Vancouver Professor Speaks on Author Richard Brautigan at Poetry Night." 7 January 2011.

Swanson, Jessica. "Brautigan Library To Elevate Craft of Writing." Northbank Magazine Winter 2011: 28.

Wastradowski, Matt. "Author Inspires A Holiday." The Columbian 29 January 2011: D1.
(NOTE: this article downloads as a .PDF file)
Adams, Kelly. "Unusual Library Honors Ideas of Late Author." The Oregonian 16 October 2010: E1, E8.

—. "Museum Presents The Brautigan Library Challenge." The Daily Insider 4 October 2010.

Albright, Mary Ann. "Brautigan Library to Call County Home." The Columbian 4 October 2010: D1, D6.

Alling, Brenda. "Public, Democratic Home for Personal Narratives." WSU Today 28 September 2010.

—. "Bringing Brautigan Home: DTC Program Helps Relocate Library for the Unpublished." WSU Today 15 February 2010.

Anonymous. "From Carnegie to Brautigan." Clark County Historical Museum Newsletter. Autumn/Winter 2010: 3.
(NOTE: this article downloads as a .PDF file)

Anonymous. "Clark County Historical Museum and WSU Vancouver's DTC Program Bring Brautigan Home." The Daily Insider 10 February 2010.

Atkinson, Spring. "Brautigan Library Gets New Life at CCHM." The VanCougar 1 November 2010: 1, 4.
(NOTE: this article downloads as a .PDF file)

Baker, Jeff. "Richard Brautigan Library Opens in Vancouver." 7 October 2010.
The Brautigan Library, a collection of almost 400 unpublished manuscripts inspired by an idea in Richard Brautigan's 1971 novel "The Abortion: A Historical Romance," officially opens at 5 p.m Thursday in the Clark County Historical Museum. Brautigan, a Tacoma native best known for "Trout Fishing in America," imagined a library where anyone could deposit a copy of their own book. Todd Lockwood, a Brautigan fan, started such a library in Vermont in 1990 but it closed in 1995 for lack of funds. John F. Barber, a faculty member at Washington State University-Vancouver, arranged to have the collection brought to Vancouver. The Clark County Historical Museum is hosting an exhibition about Brautigan called "Autumn Trout Gathering," until the end of January. It includes sound and video installations, photographs, posters and memorabilia of Brautigan and his readings in San Francisco.

Benedict, Michaele L. "The Library Lives!" Write Rite Wright Right 30 March 2010.

Blackfeather, Cheri. "The Brautigan Library in Four Parts." Vox Pop PDX (podcast) 13 October 2010.

Levitt, Alice. "Vermont's Former Brautigan Library Finds New Home in Washington, and Online." Seven Days: Vermont's Independent Voice 24 February 2010: 20-21.

Quinn, Michelle. "A Homecoming for Richard Brautigan." The New York Times 2 February 2010 The Bay Area Blog
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Press Releases
Anonymous. "A Library of Unpublished Manuscripts." The New Fillmore. 2 February 2009.
A short article noting the intent of librarians at the Presidio Branch Library to commemorate Brautigan's creation of a fictional library from this real life library.

Appelo, Tim. "Slum Sparrow Millionaire." City Arts Tacoma April 2009: 16-21.

Stewart, Adam. "Re-Opening the Tower of Poetry or Troutfishing in WSUV." The Vancouver Voice 2 December 2009: 12-13.
(NOTE: this article downloads as a .PDF file)
Anonymous. "Museum May Become Home To Brautigan Library." The Columbian 1 October 2008: C6.
Anonymous. "John F. Barber on Richard Brautigan." 28 November 2007.
Originally available at:; but no longer available.
"A 10 question 'innerview' with Dr. John F. Barber on writer Richard Brautigan. Barber's answers are insightful, to say the least, and help show why Brautigan matters (maybe even more now) in the 21st century. For example, on why Brautigan matters, Barber notes the novel "Williard and his Bowling Trophies" seems to foreshadow text-messaging. "In Watermelon Sugar" pre-dates the Jonestown or Waco massacres and speaks to the desperate acts people will undertake when their reason for existence seems threatened."
Anonymous. "Sombre Anniversary Recasts Light on an Awe-Inspiring Writer . . . Left for Dead in the Shadow of America's Beat Generation." Independent Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Seven Days section, Sunday Herald, 31 October 2004.

O'Kelly, Kevin. "Unusual Library May Get New Chapter." The Boston Globe 27 September 2004: ***?***.

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Brautigan West, Jessamyn. "A Visit to the Brautigan Library." 12 June 2000
An online account of a visit to The Brautigan Library written by web designer and online researcher, Jessamyn West. Contained within the "Journal" portion of her website.
Green, Lee. "Making Room for Lost Causes." American Way 1 May 1996: 78, 80, 82, 84.
A profile of The Brautigan Library, started in the spring of 1990 by Todd Lockwood. Modeled after the library Brautigan featured in his novel The Abortion, The Brautigan Library accepted unpublished manuscripts from writers around the world until 1995. Included are short descriptions of several of the manuscripts submitted. American Way is the in-flight magazine published by American Airlines, Fort Worth, Texas.
Front cover van Bakel, Rogier. "Paperback Proving Grounds." Wired 3.09 September 1995: 56, 58.
Brief mention of The Brautigan Library as an introduction to information about web-based publishers and virtual libraries. Says
[T]he nonprofit library wants to raise awareness of "the grass-roots level of our culture," and steer the "street-level view away from the ivory tower." (van Bakel 56)

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Salm, Arthur. "Public Eye." San Diego Union-Tribune 30 January 1993 Lifestyle Section: F2.

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Sikorski, Ray. "Remembered in Montana." The 23 3(3) June 1993: 1.
Publication of The Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont. Relates what Brautigan friends Tom McGuane, William R. Hjortsberg, Greg Keeler, and Tim Cahill felt his reaction would have been to a library modeled after the one he wrote about in The Abortion.
Chapman, Christine. "A Library for World's Nobodies." International Herald Tribune 25 September 1992: **?**.
Profiles The Brautigan Library calling it "the last resort—and sometimes the first—for writers who want to see their unpublished manuscripts bound, shelved, and read by people who travel long distances to find them."

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Online Resource
Chapman's article at the New York Times website
Ingrassia, Lawrence. "A Fictional Library Becomes A Real Place With Unreal Fiction." Wall Street Journal 28 May 1991, Sec. A: 1.
Profiles the Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont.

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Jedeikin, Jenny and Robert Love. "Brautigan Library." Rolling Stone 7 February 1991: 13.
The full text of this article reads:
For all aspiring writers growing tired of the endless stream of rejection letters: You can finally see your words of wisdom on a library shelf. The Brautigan Library, in Burlington, Vermont—modeled after a library Richard Brautigan described in his 1971 cult novel The Abortion—is a nonprofit business that accepts manuscripts from anyone for a twenty-five-dollar fee; the only catch is that the work must be unpublished. "The Abortion has been a favorite book of mine for years," says founder Todd Lockwood. "The idea is that anyone who pours their heart and soul into a novel or work of poetry can then immediately put it in a public collection for others to read." And in just seven months the library, which is run by a volunteer staff of thirty Brautigan devotees, has amassed 150 books. Visitors can peruse a wide range of material—from the tale of a man who lived on his Harley-Davidson for five years to a former mechanical engineer's life philosophy.

"What we're creating here is a long-term historical time capsule," says Lockwood, "that could become a great source for people who want to know what is going on at the grass-roots level."
Anonymous. "Blame It On Brautigan." Harper's September 1990: 42-45.
Examples of books submitted to the Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont.
The library, which describes itself as a home for "folk literature," charges a twenty-five dollar fee for binding and cataloging any manuscript; seventy volumes have been cataloged since the library opened last April [1990].
—. "A Library For People With Tales To Tell." New York Times 8 May 1990, Sec. A: 12.
Profiles the Brautigan Library, saying it was created in memory of Brautigan and is reserved exclusively for unpublished manuscripts open to public readership.

Garchik, Leah. "Unpublished Works Welcome At New Library." The San Francisco Chronicle 3 May 1990: A10.

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Garner, Dwight. "Brautigan Would Have Loved This." San Francisco Examiner 17 July 1990: B3.
Discusses the Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont, which serves as a repository for unpublished manuscripts submitted by authors and open to public readership. Says Brautigan conceived of "such a nonjudgmental, very public library in his 1970 novel The Abortion."

—. "The Library That Time Forgot." Village Voice 35(24) 12 June 1990: 34.
Says the library is a tribute to Brautigan and that it operates exclusively to store unpublished texts, written by ordinary citizens.

Stecklow, Steve. "A Home for Books Not Published: Local Vt. Library." The Philadelphia Inquirer 29 April 1990: AO2.

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Ratner, Elaine. "The Effect of Brautigan." California Living 14 May 1972: 26-27.
Descibes how people, after reading Brautigan's The Abortion write, visit, or bring their books to the Presidio Branch of the San Francisco Public Library.

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Hartston, William. "Home For Unpublished Books: William Hartston Visits the Brautigan an Unusual Library in Burlington, Vermont." The Independent ***?***.

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The Brautigan Virtual Library
Maintained under the auspices of AHA!Poetry, solicits and displays unpublished books of poetry online. Books are cataloged and described. Authors retain all rights to their work and may seek other forms of publication.

Online Resource
The Brautigan Virtual Library website
Late Night Library
A non-profit organization dedicated to promoting talented writers early in their careers. Features a series of podcast conversations with writers and other cultural innovators.

Online Resource
Late Night Library website
The Library of Unwritten Books
A collection of possible books founded by British librarians Caroline Jupp and Sam Brown in 2002. The books began as interviews recorded with people about a book they dreamed of writing or making. The interviews were collected through random encounters in shopping centers, parks, and city streets, and by invitations to visit literature festivals, public libraries, and community centers. Limited edition mini-books were published from transcripts of the interviews, and made available to readers at exhibitions and special events. Touring book-boxes also displayed the books at everyday venues such as cafés, pubs, libraries and launderettes.

Anonymous. "Library Features Books That Have Yet To Be Written." CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation]. Arts Section.

The full text of this article reads
3 August 2004

PORTSMOUTH—An exhibit at a gallery in Britain is a showcase for books with titles like One-Eyed Olaf, The Man Who Was Addicted to Seeing, Poke the Pig and Scrumping in Persia.

But unlike normal books, these ones have yet to be written. They are ideas for books that will probably never be realized.

The project, called the Library of Unwritten Books, is the brainchild of Sam Brown and Caroline Jupp, who have been travelling around Britain collecting tales from ordinary people they meet on the street.

Using a converted shopping cart that doubles as their "mobile recording unit," the pair ask strangers if they have any ideas for books. They then convert each narrative kernel into a précis only a few pages in length.

They have already collected more than 400 stories this way in the last two years and plan to find a total of 1,000.

The exhibit, currently on display at the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth, features fantasies as well as non-fiction "books."

Some are based on family history, like the one from the woman who told a story about her father, who served in the British navy in the 1800s. Her mother was originally engaged to another man, who went off to war and was presumed killed in action.

Her mother married a different man, only to have the original fiancé come back alive.

"I think there's so much potential, there really is," Jupp told an online correspondent for the BBC. "But a lot of people just don't have the skill or the time—that very specific ability that it takes to write a book."

The inspiration for the exhibit came from the library of unpublished books in the Richard Brautigan novel The Abortion, and Jupp and Brown admit that many of their books will likely never get off the ground.

"Unwritten books are different to the books that they would write," Brown told the BBC. "A good unwritten book doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be a good written book."
Youngs, Ian. "The Art of Not Writing Books." BBC News Online UK Edition. 2 August 2004.
Two librarians, Sam Brown and Caroline Jupp, traveled around Britian collecting ideas for books not written, and that probably will never be written. They and their art project, called the Library of Unwritten Books, traveled around the UK collecting more than 400 stories in the past two years, with a goal of 1,000, using mobile audio recording equipment. These narratives were then turned into individual mini-books, each only a few pages in length focusing on the barest bones of an idea and distributed to libraries, community centres, pubs, and doctors' waiting rooms. The project was inspired by Brautigan's The Abortion and was the featured display at the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth through 28 August 2004.

Online Resources
Youngs' article at the BBC News website

Library of Unwritten Books website

The Library of Unwritten Books event, 21 May 2010, Eveleigh
A night in honour of Richard Brautigan's The Abortion, or, library lovers and amateur writers unite!

From 7pm-11pm, ClubHouse @ Performance Space, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh.

Don't be put off by the title; you only need to be willing to expel stories, not babies! This swinging sixties classic is a parody of the romance genre in which a librarian falls in love with a traffic-stopping beauty. Love leads to sex, sex leads to babies, babies lead to Tijuana . . . but the real point is the sweet library that Brautigan invents, to which anyone can submit a story; sketched in crayon, daubed with jam, heaving with mathematical calculations. Anything goes! We’ll have a real-live librarian on hand to accept your manuscripts.
Sponsored by Even Books: "even books combines books, booze & brains for special one-off parties"
The Richard Brautigan Lending Library
Bellamy, Gail. "Mountain Man." Restaurant Hospitality 77(5) May 1993: 160, 162, 164, 166.
A profile of a restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, "La Montagne," where diners can borrow books from the "Richard Brautigan Lending Library" during meals.