Please Plant This Book

Brautigan, Richard. Please Plant This Book. San Francisco and Santa Barbara: Printed by Graham Mackintosh, 1968.


"I pray that in thirty-two years passing flowers and vegetables will water the Twenty-First Century with their voices telling that they were once a book turned by loving hands into life."

Richard Brautigan, Please Plant This Book. San Francisco and Santa Barbara: Printed by Graham Mackintosh, 1968.

The curators of the exhibition, The Most of Special Collections, charged me to write a one-page introduction that would explain precisely what "Special Collections" are. I first thought this a hopeless task: no matter what I wrote about special collections, I would be right, but my definition would be incomplete. Seeking ideas, I examined the group of items chosen for exhibition; a more diverse group of materials could scarcely be found. One book, Richard Brautigan's Please Plant This Book, helped clear my vision and allowed me to imagine a simple solution to my dilemma.

For what simpler or more apt analogy could there be than one between a garden and special collections? If the Library can be compared to the world's flora, a garden made up of selected plants might be viewed as a special collection. A garden's inhabitants are influenced by and depend upon the climate in which it grows, the needs of the marketplace, and the vision and commitment of the gardener. Within its confines there may be a kitchen garden, perennial borders, a cutting garden, arbor, scented garden, beds of roses, drifts of daffodils, a water garden, wildflower meadows, and fields of poppies. There will most certainly be very special, perhaps unique plants to be found; there will also be more common but equally important varieties; and there will be weeds. Most important, no garden will be exactly like any other.

In The Most of Special Collections we offer some of our most prized flora, as well as other sights of our garden. Special Collections' staff and friends identified twenty-one categories that would provide superlative examples from our collections, and within each category made appropriate selections. The description of each item in the exhibition was written by the person who chose the item displayed. The exhibit has been curated by Felicia Johnson and Kendon Stubbs. Contributors of the texts were Terry Belanger, Christina Deane, Jeanne Hammer, Margaret Hrabe, Felicia Johnson, Ervin Jordan, Heather Moore, Kathryn Morgan, Michael Plunkett, George Riser, Ann Southwell, and Kendon Stubbs. Edward Gaynor and Felicia Johnson are responsible for the World Wide Web version of the exhibition. Design work was carried out by Shanti Durkee, Michael Furlough, Kenneth Jensen, and Lorraine Jordan.

We are grateful, as always, for the support that the Associates of the University of Virginia Library provide for our exhibitions program; and we invite faculty, staff, students, Associates, and other friends, to make a special effort to see The Most of Special Collections.

Kathryn Morgan
Associate Director of Special Collections