My school has an exhibit on the practice of collecting and is displaying a sample of some of my collections. The exhibit closes this week, but there's still time to see my and others oddities displayed. For more information on the exhibit read the University of Toronto's news item: Faculty of Information’s 'cabinets of curiosities' on display.
The event organizers wanted the collectors to write about their collection and name it. For the first time I actually thought of my stuff as a collection. I thought of calling it "The Eccentric, Eclectic Hoard" but figured that "Saving Weird Stuff" was more accurate. I hadn't really thought about my collecting process or motivations before. I realized that I do have a propensity to save and organize stuff, whether it is souvenirs, books, objet d'art, or digital resources. I've written before about how my Delicious bookmarks provided a sense of control and satisfaction, but hadn't looked at my collecting more holistically.
Am I collector or hoarder? I'm not ready to go on TLC's “Hoarding: Buried Alive” (I hope) but I am a serial saver. Over the years, I've amassed many collections: comic books, fridge magnets, old books about the Internet, pins, postcards, Toronto history books, socks, sunglasses, View Master disks, etc.
A few years ago I realized my collecting was more pathology than hobby, so I started pruning. I now maintain most collections only passively. Collections like mine, however, have a way of never dying as friends and family continue to donate items and I continue to stumble upon irresistible acquisitions. In reexamining my collections, however, I was struck that the intrinsic qualities of an item are now often secondary to the memories they evoke – and thus worthy of saving/hoarding. But possibly in a more selective manner.