Artist-Designed Miniature Libraries Make Literacy Open, Free, and Beautiful

These pop-up libraries fuse great design with great literature.

Nautilus Katie Hudnall

In the past several years miniature libraries, or book stations, have risen in popularity. Originally envisioned by Todd Bol, who built one for his front lawn back in 2010, they’ve spread across America and beyond (this author spotted several in Berlin this summer). Now, an Indianapolis-based public art and literacy project, The Public Collection, is improving in Bol’s original intent.

Developed by Rachel M. Simon, The Public Collection fuses the book station with art installation, to “improve literacy, foster a deeper appreciation of the arts, and raise awareness for education and social justice in our community.” To do this, Simon invited nine local artists to make book stations that doubled as sculptural works and placed them in various locations around the city. (Check out the map here to see where the sculptural book stations are located.)

Mccutcheon Book Station

Inspired by Mark Twain, Indianapolis-based conceptual artist Brian McCutcheon’s book station, located in the city’s Monument Circle, is a reference to “civic monument archetypes.” The sculpture, titled Monument, is not a single book station but a string of them, capped on top with a Twain quote on libraries.

“The lending library supports an 1894 Mark Twain quote that was written during the same time period as the construction of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument,” writes McCutcheon in his project description. “The quote suggests that books and libraries offer a more durable monument to society and culture than does the stone edifice, and this implication strongly correlates to the free exchange of literature and ideas made possible by the Public Collection project.”

While McCutcheon’s concept is fantastic, artist Katie Hudnall’s Nautilus book station is truly a thing of beauty. The library is made out of sustainable materials, in this case salvaged lumber, much of it taken from the book station’s location at Eskenazi Health.

“The body of this piece is loosely derived from the image of a boat on water and is designed to remind the viewer that books (and education in general) can be a form of transportation,” Hudnall explains. “Books can take us to other places and times, offer solace and distraction, arm us with the tools and information we need to solve problems in our daily lives, and make us more empathetic creatures.”

When Simon announced The Public Collection back in June, she said the project is about eliminating barriers and building a platform where social constructs become irrelevant. “Art, both visual and literary, is for everyone,” she said. “And I hope The Public Collection helps strengthen this idea by sharing these gifts with the community.”

Click here to see and read up on the other artists’ book station sculptures.

via Michael Belanger / Flickr

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