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This profile first appeared on the LAIP in 2015. Tim Youd is still performing his 100 Novels project. Learn more at timyoud.com.
Today we present a conversation with Tim Youd, a visual and performance artist who is currently working on a fascinating project to retype 100 novels–obviously a performance piece that is very intriguing to literature lovers! Read on to hear more about the 100 Novels project and Tim’s relationship to libraries in the past and today. ~ Laura
Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Please introduce yourself to our community–who are you, and what sort of creative work do you do?
Tim Youd (TY): I’m a Los Angeles based visual and performance artist. I am currently engaged in a ten year undertaking to retype 100 novels. I retype each novel on the same make/model typewriter used by the author; and I stage each performance in a location germane to the novel or the writer’s life.
TY: My mom made visiting the library an important and regular part of my and my brother’s childhood. That was a very formative exposure for me. And it led to my lifelong involvement with books.
Throughout life, and it’s ups and downs, I would say the most constant pleasure and most reliable means of escape has been reading. That my visual art has had to do with text and literature for many years even preceding my 100 Novels project seems like quite a happy inevitability.
TY: I had a very recent experience retyping novels in libraries. Both occurred on my now almost complete retyping tour of England. The first of the four novels I retyped in England was Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim at the library at the University of Leicester. I staged the performance there because Kingsley got the idea for the novel when he went to visit Philip Larkin at the University of Leicesyer, where he (Larkin) was then an assistant librarian. The main character is based on Larkin, and the novel dedicated to him.
After completing that retyping I travelled to Manchester where, at the invitation of the International Anthong Burgess Foundation, I was allowed to retype Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange at the Manchester Central Library. The Central Library is a spectacular building; I was allowed to commence the performance in the main reading room – a vast domed room with incredible acoustics. It’s also a silent reading room, and so after the first hour I relocated to the area of the library where most of the foot traffic occurs – and got to meet a lot of interesting people as a result.
I will also take you back only a few months earlier, to Kansas City, where I retyped Evan Connell’s Mr. Bridge at the Kansas City Central Library, arranged by the Kansas City Art Institute’s ArtSpace gallery. The people at the Kansas City Central Library were very welcoming and supportive. The building itself is quite impressive. It was a former bank, and fits exactly the description of the bank that Mr. Bridge did his business in.
LAIP: How do you decide which novels to transcribe for your 100 Novels project?
The second criteria is that I have to like the novel enough to want to spend the many hours it takes to retype it. At its heart, this project is about the devotional act of reading. And I think the best readings come on the rereading. So I’ve read everything I retype beforehand, at least once.
TY: Well, clearly libraries need to evolve to stay relevant. I don’t have all the answers, but I will say that the Manchester Central Library was remarkable for its maintenance of the beautiful features of a classic building with the energy of community and technology.
Read more about Tim Youd’s work on his website, timyoud.com
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by Allana Mayer
In early January 2016, I started a fundraiser for the Society of American Archivists Mosaic Scholarship, which was made to encourage diverse entrants into the field. I wanted to contribute, but didn’t have money to spare. Instead, I created a print-on-demand store with Society6 to sell items with designs I had made. Of course, I don’t have artistic skill, either, so I modified existing illustrations from the public domain.
I’m here to document what I did, in order to show how easy it is to get a shop up and running. The benefits for cultural heritage institutions are multiple: make some cash, promote your collections, enrich the world with beautiful vintage visuals, print your own art for your walls, and learn a new skill!
The process I employed to generate profitable clothes, home decor, phone cases, and a bunch of other cool stuff is pretty straightforward:
How It All Started
I browse the Flickr Commons pretty regularly, for images to illustrate articles and blog posts and sometimes just for my own amusement. When you look through the Commons these days, you’ll notice that a lot of the images shared are being generated through a robot that identifies images and illustrations in books uploaded to the Internet Archive. You’ll find that the generator will spit out a bunch of images from one book at a time. So, there I was browsing, and this image caught my eye:
I thought “That would look great on a t-shirt.” So I put it on one.
I followed the Commons image back to its source: a history book by John Ridpath from 1897, uploaded to the Internet Archive by the Mugar Memorial Library at Boston University. It’s an expansive text that covers science, the birth of man, and a chunk of (now rather pejorative) anthropological examinations of different cultures. Despite the racism, I found some of the chemistry and astronomy parts of the text truly charming, and the illustrations fantastic.
You, of course, will have a library collection to work from. You’ll have access to lots of public-domain materials in your special collections, and maybe even high-quality digitization tools to do your own image capture. But maybe not – maybe you’re in need of a fundraiser, or branded gifts for guest speakers or awards, and you don’t have any of these things. Don’t worry – the public domain is here for you.
If you want to do as I did, and work from only one book, you can use the tags auto-generated by the robot (whatever starts with “bookid”). If you’re going for a theme, the images are relatively well-described and searchable. If you’re really starved for ideas, try searching the Commons for “geometry,” “botany,” “anatomy,” or “astronomy” – those are always inspiring to me. Just remember: if you’re finding “Internet Archive Book Images” uploads, they’re of lower quality than the original scans, so follow the images back to their source on the Internet Archive.
In the next post, I’ll talk about what to do with the designs you’ve found; I’ll go through my own process step-by-step, so you can see how it works.
Check it out online:
Allana Mayer is an archivist, librarian, and freelance writer in Toronto. She has an undergraduate degree in cultural studies, and a graduate degree in library and information science. She researches and writes on all topics cultural-heritage but especially on art and media, digital preservation, copyright, scholarly communications, and technology for archives and archivists. | Twitter: @allanaaaaaaa | Blog: blog.allanaaa.com
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It’s our pleasure to welcome Ellen Wiles, founder of Ark Short Stories, to the site today, to talk about her project to bring short stories to life–in library spaces, of course! Read on! ~Laura
by Ellen Wiles
What happens when short stories spring out of their pages, join hands with dance, sound, live music, film and illustration, and lead audiences around library spaces? That is the question at the heart of Ark: an experimental project to celebrate, subvert and transform libraries through performance. It is a form of live literature, but not as you are likely to know it.
I came up with the idea for Ark during my PhD research on live literature, when I became all-too-familiar with the standard formats of authors reading short excerpts from their new books, answering audience questions, and signing copies afterwards.
I wished there were more performative, dynamic and creative literary events happening that would make me feel, as an audience member, more like I often do at theatre and live art shows: caught up in the moment, and transported somewhere new.
I also care deeply about the demise of public libraries in the UK, thanks to chronic under-funding from Government and, perhaps, a lack of vision about not only the key to what those libraries are and have always been – temples of books and imagination, accessible to all – but also what they could be in the future. Some public libraries are truly fantastic architectural spaces which have plentiful potential in terms of performance. I wanted to explore ways in which those two ideas could come together.
Each Ark show is curated around a themed selection of newly-commissioned and pre-published short stories, performed by a mixture of actors and writers. Each one is site-responsive, entailing movement of the audience around the library space, and involves various cross-arts collaborations and modes of performance, ranging from dance to live illustration. The first series, funded by Arts Council England, comprised three shows, each growing in scale and scope: A Literary Coup was on a theme of libraries and reading, and happened in the petite Primrose Hill Community Library; A Literary Bestiary was on a theme of curious creatures, and happened in the fabulously modernist and multi-level Swiss Cottage Library; and Literally Fantastical was on a theme of fairytales and wonderlands, and happened over five floors of the one and only British Library.
Short stories in the shows have included Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Phoenix, about a daring librarian risking his life to rescue books amidst a violent apocalypse, performed by actor Susanna Hislop with newly commissioned film by artist Lucy Coggle; a series of one-sentence stories on a theme of bestiary written and performed by the audience around a circular balcony in Swiss Cottage Library; a new story by Joe Dunthorne about an amorous encounter with a dog performed by the author with a newly commissioned soundtrack by composer Kate Denholm; a classic but still wild and daring Angela Carter story, Wolf Alice, performed by actor Adjoa Andoh with live illustration by Gabi Froden, and fairytale songs performed by singer Maeve Leahy, interacting with dancer Rob Hesp, amidst a British Library reading room that we had transformed, with the help of props, plants and lighting, into an enchanted forest.
It was a hugely challenging project to direct, involving not only curation and commissioning, forging new artistic collaborations, and maximising the use of limited budgets, but also the significant technical challenges of turning libraries into immersive performances spaces involving various media and staging posts when they are not set up with the necessary equipment, finding rehearsal time when libraries have readers using the spaces during the daytimes, and working with librarians who have often never encountered this kind of project taking place out of hours before. But I was lucky enough to find some wonderful writers, artists, technical wizards and library collaborators, who all helped to make this project into something which could bring short stories to life in exciting ways for new audiences, and which encouraged the re-imagination, transformation, subversion and celebration of library spaces through performance.
Public libraries do not have to be static or stagnant institutions, but nor do they have to forfeit their traditional role as places of literary discovery for communities in order to be relevant today. The Ark project is a way of shining a light on libraries by engaging with and in them through literary storytelling, drawing upon the aura of the books on the shelves, and leading new audiences through their doors for new imaginative experiences.
You can find out more about Ark, see pictures, watch videos and find out about future shows at: http://ift.tt/1Wflpmb.
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by Jaime Griffis, Director, Programming and Promotion, Idea Exchange
Idea Exchange supports and inspires our community in the exploration of reading, arts, innovation and learning. One of the ways in which we strive to create an environment of curiosity and discovery is through our dynamic programming for children and teens. In order to build a sustainable program suite, we needed to acknowledge that libraries of the future are moving from a focus on infrastructure (i.e. print collections) to a focus on space and community engagement. By redefining how we see collection, space, and customer service, Idea Exchange has created programs that foster creativity, spark innovation, develop human capital and support lifelong learning.
By redefining how we see collection, space, and customer service, Idea Exchange has created programs that foster creativity, spark innovation, develop human capital and support lifelong learning.
Our first project at redefining how we see collections and space was the redesign of the Children’s Department at our Queen’s Square location. Children’s collections were analyzed in terms of circulation but with a twist. Shelf space became ‘prime real-estate’ where collections that performed (higher circulation) received the most linear feet and collections that performed poorly were reduced significantly. The weeding project reduced the QS children’s collection by 35-40%. By pushing the remaining book stacks/high performing collections to the perimeter of the department, we were able to create a large open programming space right in the department itself. No more sequestering in small, out of the way program rooms! Our success was measured in an increase in collection circulation by 18% and we were able to create large, open spaces for families to stay and play in the department.
After redefining how we see collection, staff were able to take advantage of the new large open space and create programs focused on STEM learning and early literacy through play. Kindergarten Connections and Kindergarten Bootcamp are programs that provide families with the tools necessary to help to prepare children for their first day of school, develop reading skills and encourage social skills between children. Explore on the Floor showcases 5-6 interactive centres where parents/caregivers play, discover and explore with their children in a variety of fun-filled, hands-on learning activity centres. After-school drop-ins carry on this station matrix, where service desk time becomes programming time. Staff actively come out from behind the desk and engage with kids at the centres, recommend books and answer questions.
In addition to our facilities being a place of engagement with adaptable spaces, another major component of sustainable programming is community partnerships.
These partnerships are present across all levels of programming but are particularly integral to the success of our teen programs. Technology changes at lightning speed and our youth are embracing change as it happens. Collaborating with outside companies, services and individuals allows our programming to be relevant and current The value of partnerships lies in the linking together of people and organizations, capitalizing on diverse experiences and skills, leveraging funding and resources, increasing programs and broadening range, and aligning goals which often at its core is increased community awareness and participation.
An example of a popular and successful program with great community connections is the partnership between Idea Exchange and Queen Street Music. By leveraging community mentors in the music industry, we connect contemporary musicians with teens in our Music is My Weapon (MIMW) program. Teens create, develop and showcase their songs while getting an inside look at the business side of the music industry, along with the opportunity to network with others in the local music scene.
Teen engagement involves many sectors: corporate funding (to support hard costs of outfitting a music hub), professional industry participation (to run programs and mentor youth) and proximity to a secondary school facility (for easy access and integration with educational programs). It’s also supported by local non-profits and small business with similar goals: making music accessible to all.
By redefining collections and space and leveraging community partnerships, Idea Exchange has developed a sustainable and dynamic program suite, creating environments of curiosity and discovery for the younger members of our community.
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Hello dear friends! It’s been busy in our library world, so today I have a giant roundup of awesomeness for you to enjoy!
On the site:
Other fun stuff:
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