Librarians Damon-Moore and Batykefer show how libraries are more than just places to shelve books.
Founders of the Library as Incubator Project in Madison, Wis., the authors conceive the library as “a one-stop shop—a place where a broad variety of creative lifelong learners, artists of all kinds, and librarians could gather to share ideas about programs that support hands-on creativity.” The Incubator Project believes that “a library isn’t just about things—like books, databases, magazines, and free tax forms—it’s about people.” Their ideal library would welcome knitters, crafters, musicians, filmmakers and photographers, as well as readers, all of whom would be nurtured by the special ambience. Interviews with poets, teachers, actors, researchers and artists working in a variety of media are followed by exercises that encourage readers to think imaginatively: “The library is alive, and you are listening to its heartbeat. Record your ideas in a notebook.” Mostly, Damon-Moore and Batykefer focus on public libraries geared to general-interest readers, but their project is applicable to specialized and university libraries, as well. One artist, working at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, finds historical artifacts there that she interprets in her drawings. Recently, for example, she discovered 18th-century medallions commemorating the voyage of Capt. James Cook. “I am interested in how events and ideas of the past have influenced and persist within current cultural preoccupations,” she says. Another artist decided to illustrate every page of Finnegan’s Wake, a book, he decided, “that would really benefit from illumination.” Besides inspiring particular artists, libraries can serve as showcases for the arts: mounting exhibitions, hosting readings and book signings, staging performances and concerts, and providing a communal space for artists to work collaboratively.
This quirky and imaginative book celebrates individuals’ potential for creativity and libraries as vital and vibrant community resources.