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Finding Aid to the Floating Island Publications Records, 1972-1998, bulk 1976-1997
BANC MSS 99/325  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Floating Island Publications records.
    Date (inclusive): 1972-1998,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1976-1997
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 99/325
    Creators : Sykes, Michael
    Extent: Number of containers: 18 cartons, 13 oversize boxes Linear feet: 35.75
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The Floating Island Publications Records document the works published by this small press, which was located in Point Reyes Station, CA, from 1976-1996.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html. 
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Floating Island Publications Records, BANC MSS 99/325, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Separated Material

    Two video recordings (VHS) of Robert Bly reading his Point Reyes Poems.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Small presses--California
    Sykes, Michael

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Floating Island Publications Records were purchased by The Bancroft Library in 1999.


    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Anastasia Karel and Rachel Gulbraa in 2009.

    Biographical Information

    Michael Sykes awoke one morning in June 1975 with the idea to begin publishing an occasional gathering of material and to call it Floating Island. He had given the idea some consideration before, over the years 1969-1974, while he owned and operated a bookstore in Point Reyes Station, CA. The main inspiration for the name Floating Island comes from the geological fact that the ground on which Sykes stood, the Point Reyes Peninsula, is "floating to the northwest at the dizzying rate of 2-4 inches per year, being an upthrust eastern portion of the Pacific Plate which grinds horizontally against the American Plate along the San Andreas fault."
    The original concept was a quarterly magazine containing fiction, poetry, photography and graphics, with a regional focus, but after the first issue in 1976, it gradually became an occasional periodical. The succeeding issues appeared in 1977, 1980, and 1989. Meanwhile, Sykes published approximately fifty titles under the imprint Floating Island Publications, and helped other presses with typesetting and design under the name Archetype West. In 1995 he moved further inland, to Cedarville, CA, where he continues to operate as of this writing (2009).

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Floating Island Publications Records primarily consist of correspondence from writers and artists and drafts of works published by Michael Sykes. Many of these writers and artists are from West Marin County, CA, or the surrounding region.
    Approximately half the collection is in oversize boxes; these materials are all related to publications, and include artwork and proofs. The only business-related records are found in Subseries 2.3, Funding, and do not offer a comprehensive view of the company. There is one folder of personal material, although items that attest to Sykes's personality can be found throughout the collection.