Friday, February 20, 2015

The Artist's Library : A Field Guide - by Laura Damon-Moore and Erinn Batykefer

I found this book through a stroke of serendipity. I was talking to my husband's "Secret Life of Coffee" class (do you love that name? I thought of it!) about doing research on coffee-related themes (using the handy MaxGuide I created for just such work) and was explaining the difference between a subject search and a keyword search using the word "coffee". I demonstrated that the subject search would be more targeted, and that a keyword search would be broader, so that while one might find some useful books than just those a subject search would turn up, it will also necessarily produce some "false hits" including books by people with the name "Coffee", and others published by Coffee House Press. At which point the record for The Artist's Library which had only recently been added to our catalog appeared. I explained to the students that while it looked like a fabulous book (and that I was most certainly going to read it myself) it probably wouldn't have a lot of information for their research on coffee. After finishing my lesson, I returned straight to my library and checked out the book.

This work looks at the library as creative space - an "incubator" of ideas. Ideas that can be inspired by the architecture of the library, things and people we see in the library, as well as things we learn through reading. The authors provide suggestions for artists from the simple (using computers provided by the library to do creative work - a long standing tradition dating back to the time of typewriters used by writers including Ray Bradbury and Betty Friedan) to more unconventional strategies (browsing the stacks and selecting books based only the color of the cover, talking to strangers) as well as checking out the events calendar for new things to try, and collaborating with librarians to create programming, or art displays. Both the university library in which I work, and the public library for which I am a trustee provide spaces for artists to display work. The public library showcases local artists, as well as artwork created by art students (by which my own daughter has been provided a venue to showcase her work).

The authors define artist broadly as
a person who learns and uses creative tools and techniques to make new things...a professional musician, or a kid learning how to use sound-editing software in a library's digital lab...a world-renowned author, or a senior citizen taking part in a memoir-writing workshop...
With this definition I certainly find myself as part of a meta-project. This blog being my creative outlet which was inspired by the library.

I got a laugh when I read dancer/librarian ChristiWeindorf's self description of as a "bunhead". She was referring NOT to her librarian self, but rather her ballerina self.

Find out more at the Library as Incubator Project 

This video about creating art from old books has recently been making the rounds on the "library land" newsfeeds.

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