I have written previously about how the Harry Potter series was my gateway to discovering the power of reading and the internet, as well as social justice campaigning, which I suspect all eventually played a role in leading me to librarianship. This month’s GLAM blog club theme ‘Collect’ made me realise that the series also led to one of my earliest experiences of collecting, which is further evidence to support that it was my gateway to librarianship, so I thought I would write a little bit about it.
My collection largely consisted of items that would help me recreate the Harry Potter world, imagine that I was part of it, and make up my own stories to build on the canon – particularly Lego, magical creature soft toys (e.g. Hedwig), Chocolate Frog cards, the books Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Tales of Beedle the Bard (I loved that they all included annotations/marginalia written by some of the characters – making them seem more ‘real’), and Hogwarts-themed clothes and stationery. I didn’t really want to be Harry or any of the other characters so I didn’t buy Harry Potter glasses or things like that, but I did want to want to be part of their world. I also collected newspaper articles about the Harry Potter books and films as evidence of this world entering the muggle world. The collection, like my copies of the books themselves, was not catalogued in any way, nor particularly well preserved, which now makes me shudder a little, but it was very well loved and heavily used.
There were never any Hufflepuff themed items to collect when I was growing up and I wonder if this was partly why I resisted being a Hufflepuff for so long… As many will know, I now very much embrace my Hufflepuff side and I was so excited to see so many Hufflepuff items available from the shop at the Harry Potter studios in London!
One of my favourite parts of the Harry Potter studio, was a very librarian thing to love – the display cabinet dedicated to graphic design and printed media in the film – all the newspapers, magazines, books, posters, letters, and packaging that was featured in them!
I also loved going to the House of MinaLima in London- three floors dedicated to graphic design exhibitions from Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by graphic design duo Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima.
I recently discovered a book chapter on “Queering Harry Potter” which offers some insights into why I loved the series so much and wanted to be part of this world growing up – more than just due to the fact that Harry Potter looks quite a lot like a lesbian stereotype which the chapter opens with! Harry Potter grows up in a wizardphobic world and is literally forced to live in a closet until he is 11 and receives his letter to Hogwarts – where he finds magic, friendship and a sense of belonging, and begins a quest to fight for justice. He discovers a whole world of people just like him. So much like coming out. It’s also a little bit like how I felt when I started library school and found my people: creative, quirky, nerdy and caring advocates for social justice. While I now know the series was problematic in quite a number of ways (I may do another post on that), it has been a powerful story for many people who felt different from mainstream culture growing up and it was a great, safe place for me to escape to and find comfort in.
Ehnenn J.R. (2011) Queering Harry Potter. In: Peele T. (eds) Queer Popular Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, New York