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Bowling Green State University’s extensive Sound Recording Archives receives considerable attention, but just one floor above the vast music repository is an equally important link to our cultural past, the Browne Popular Culture Library.
This library isn’t about books so much as it is preserving vaguely historical but always interesting artifacts from our past. The Browne Popular Culture Library is crammed with 200,000 such curios, one of the biggest comprehensive collections in the nation, including:
● A century of the Sears Wish Book and J.C. Penney catalogs
● World War II propaganda posters
● Classic board games
● McDonald’s Happy Meal toys
● Lunch boxes
● New and used postcards
● Original movie, TV, and radio scripts
● An E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial head mask
● A Civil Defense Kit, complete with hard hat and toilet paper
There are books, of course, and other print publications: a collection of popular fiction from the 1880s to the present, fanzines devoted to J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard among other fantasy, science-fiction, and comic-book authors, 10,000-plus mystery novels as part of the Arthur & Phyllis Rieser collection, and the library’s largest collected genre, romance novels dating to the early days of Harlequin in the 1950s.
These items aren’t for checkout, but are available for BGSU students and faculty and anyone with a valid photo ID to see and touch .
The Browne Popular Culture Library was established in 1969 by its namesakes Ray Browne and his wife, Pat, who helped found the nation’s first academic study of popular culture along with Bill Schurk, now sound recordings archivist for BGSU’s Jerome Library.
"It was kind of related to Dr. Browne’s wanting to teach popular culture courses and ... a need for resources for researchers and students to use," said Nancy Down, head librarian at Browne Popular Culture Library. "Initially, Dr. Browne and his wife gave a lot of materials. Then they just went out and dug up things at book sales and rummage sales ... and donations from people.
"A lot of the materials are not things that academic libraries traditionally keep. A lot of these materials might be entirely lost to future scholars" if it weren’t for Browne Popular Culture Library and other such collections.
Browne Popular Culture Library hours vary through the semester. For more information, check out the Web site — bgsu.edu/colleges/library/pcl/ — or call 419-372-2450.
Contact Kirk Baird at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.