The Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection is one of SAIC's Special Collections. It was officially named and established in 1989 as a separate entity within the John M. Flaxman Library. Money from a memorial fund honoring the late Joan Flasch, a staff and faculty member of the School, had allowed for the purchase of furniture and equipment. At that time the collection consisted of about 1,300 items, all acquired by, or donated to, the library since the early 1960s.
Renowned and unique in its vast scope and easily accessible for students and the general public alike, the collection has grown to well over 6,000 artists' publications and is currently housed in its own study room on the fifth floor of the School's Sharp Building. Included in it are books, multiples, video and audio recordings, digital works and periodicals, all created over the last five decades by artists of local, national, and international significance. You can search reference books and exhibition catalogs, all related to artists' books and housed within the collection, by using the John M. Flaxman Library's catalog.
Further exemplifying the wide range of art practices represented within JFABC are approximately 600 zines, dating from the early 1970s to the present. Categories include punk and riot-grrl, 1990's perzines, comic book zines, 1980s underground art, mail art, collage, and experimental/industrial/noise music and tape culture.
Most recently we've added about 200 artists' stamps, a practice coming out of mail art and greatly influenced by Ray Johnson and the New York Correspondence School. Though many of these items pass through the hands of the general public, including mail carriers, their main function is to serve as a creative networking tool for experimental artists on a national and international level, and their use began at a time when the mail was one of the few available options for communicating across the world.
Some titles in the Joan Flasch collection are categorized "Restricted Access" due to the condition or rarity of the item. To view these please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312.899.7486; prior notification of one working day is necessary.
All material is non-circulating. Walk-in visitors are welcome.
During the semester
Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m-7:30 p.m.
Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday, noon-4:00 p.m.
Closed on Saturday and Sunday during semester breaks.
Closed for holidays and for SAIC critique week
check the Special Collections Calendar for up to date hours, closings, and special events
Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection
John M. Flaxman Library
37 S. Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603 (map)
for general information and to schedule visits:
to contact Anne Dorothee (Doro) Boehme:
Head of Special Collections
to contact Kayla Anderson:
Special Collections Manager