Monday, May 26, 2014

The Library of Joy: Reflections

Today is the last day to send in your memories to the Memorial Lanterns project! Which reminds me, I sort of, um, forgot to ever mention what happened with LAST month's happening.

Which is a shame, because the Library of Joy happening was marked by a particular fortuitousness, and I'm so happy with how it turned out. Thanks again, and a million, to the Awesome Foundation for the funding that made it possible! Getting the grant from them last fall was just the first lovely thing: when the time to actually produce the work rolled around, it turned out that the day I had picked for optimal distribution of shiny eggs containing tiny books throughout San Francisco's public libraries was also the last day of National Library Week. So in addition to being seasonally appropriate (it being the weekend of both Passover and Easter, two holidays in which eggs figure rather prominently), the project - apparently of its own volition - became a special sort of love poem for the library system.

The Richmond branch of the SFPL put this up on
their Facebook when they discovered the eggs.
I didn't mean for this happen, but I love that it did. I mean, libraries are a kind of museum of joy in and of themselves. They're highly publicly accessible, often beautiful, and filled with the compiled memories, dreams, imaginings, and experiences of humanity. And they're that rare thing, a place where you can walk in and get whatever fragment of beauty or meaning you want -- for FREE. I spent a lot of time in libraries as a kid. They're shelters for anyone who needs time to be in a world of their own -- as many kids (and adults) do. So I'm really glad it happened this way, and it made the creation of the books an extra joy (as if I needed more reasons).

I don't have any profound thoughts on this one, just a buncha warm fuzzies. Dozens of people submitted moments of joy, enough to make over a hundred tiny books. With the help of a few friends (including Tim Toaster Henderson, whom I fortuitously encountered during the February happening), they were hidden in 12 of the SFPL's branch libraries and a couple of local bookstores, as well as the SF Center for the Book. (Hint: last time I was in Green Apple Books, I noticed that at least one egg still hadn't been found...if you happen to be book-buying in the area this weekend, go snag yourself a copy of Flann O'Brian's The Third Policeman and you might get lucky.)

Librarians, patrons, and pages found some of the eggs, and the Facebook pages of the branches that found eggs & the SFPL blog put up some lovely photos I'm borrowing here. A friend of mine who works for the SFPL was kind enough to forward me quotes from a couple of the inter-office emails, where staff from various branches reported their delight over discovering the eggs and speculated as to the identity of the mysterious "book bunny" who might have left them. Like the Labyrinth and Poemflowers, it turned out to be an incredibly fun, inexpensive project with a surprisingly deep reach -- and we'll definitely be doing it again next year. (As of the time of writing, only nine branches were listed as having found eggs...hopefully that means there are still some hiding out!)

Here's a glimpse of the work itself:

Another one from the Richmond branch Facebook page!

Have any stories of delightful & unexpected treasures discovered in unlikely places? We'd love to know about your experiences!


1 comment:

  1. I love how these all turned out! Tiny books are kind of the cutest things ever.


Please do try to be thoughtful and considerate when posting comments, but we do love hearing what you think!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...