Art Libraries

Inside the Metropolitan Opera's Library

Here's an insiders glimpse inside this special music library.

There is always more going on at the Metropolitan Opera House than meets the eye: wig fittings, dance rehearsals, orchestral rehearsals. One particularly busy corner of the Met can be found by descending two stories below the stage level to the music library. Met 2nd violinist Sarah Vonsattel recently visited the library and spoke with Chief Librarian Robert Sutherland and Assistant Librarian Melissa Robason.

When I ask Assistant Librarian Melissa Robason to describe a typical day at the Met, she laughs and replies, “I don’t think you can say there’s a ‘typical’ day, because every day is different and changing.” Chief Librarian Robert Sutherland adds, “The only thing that’s typical about any given day is that usually the day is clobbered by about 9:45am. Then we are just simply trying to stay alive and cover all the bases until about 3, at which point we tend to focus on what we really need to do, which is getting things ready for tonight, tomorrow, next week, next month, next season, the season after.”

New Book: Visual Tour Of America's Most Fascinating Public Libraries

Via Fast Company: In 1994, photographer Robert Dawson began an odds-and-ends project. Whenever he traveled, he'd take pictures of public libraries. Then, a handful of years ago, he started taking trips across the United States just for the libraries--like the shed that served a one-person county in Nebraska, or the Texas library that housed a "petroleum room" with all sorts of George Bush-themed collectibles. He documented everything from a library found in a suburban strip mall to the the air-conditioned institution that functioned more like a refugee camp in sweltering Detroit July.

All told, Dawson journeyed through 48 states, fascinated and inspired by the common role libraries played in society. Libraries, he found, didn't only serve as a refuge for the poor who didn't have any place else to go, but gateways that opened up all corners of the world to anyone inquisitive enough to take a stroll among the shelves. The result is his new book: The Public Library, A Photographic Essay, published by Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 978-1-61689-217-3. The book includes 150 photos, plus essays by Bill Moyers, Ann Patchett, Anne Lamott, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, and many more.

Nice slideshow on the author's website.

Boston Public Library...in Lego!

Stop by Boston's Central Library in Copley Square by April 5 to see this Lego masterpiece before it moves to its permanent home at the Legoland Discovery Center in Somerville.

The model is a result of the BPL winning a contest sponsored by Lego. It received more votes than any other landmark in the city.

Librarians, Get Yer FREE Copies Here!!

Who could refuse? Workman Publishing, via Early Word is offering a FREE COPY of a new book by Chip Kidd, GO, an introduction to graphic design for kids, but also a wonderful primer for adults. Be one of the first 50 librarians or instructors to respond!

Discarded Books as Photo Project...and then...Book

Do you ever feel sentimental about weeded books? Then this one's for you. (The NYT recommends that you view it full screen).

While books may not necessarily make for a better reading experience (ed. but it's ok to have a preference one way or the other), they are superior as subject matter for a photo project. (I defy you, dear reader, to find a loving portrait of a Nook.)

To wit, witness Kerry Mansfield’s “Expired,” a twenty-page photo series whose substance is the physicality of discarded and withdrawn library books. She brings the lens in close, showing worn edges and torn covers and photographing the ephemera of the library experience: the check-out cards and the paper pockets they went into

Dance @ Your Library

for your Monday entertainment... Britain's Cascade Dance Company at the Tunbridge Wells Library in "Big Dance Library Project", recorded in the summer of 2012.

“The Quiet Volume,” Stealth Performance piece at New York University’s Bobst Library

From The New York Times Arts Beat:

What is the sound of two heads reading?

On Tuesday, in a hushed sixth-floor reading room in New York University’s Bobst Library packed with students cramming for final exams, the answer might have seemed to be: nothing much.

But for three pairs of readers scattered among the laptop-laden tables, wearing special headphones hooked up to iPod Nanos and shuffling through a pile of suspiciously literary books, the act of reading was transformed into a strange — and sometimes very loud — drama of turning pages, pointing fingers and eerily drifting thoughts.

“The first thing you notice is that for a place dedicated to silence, there’s not really that much silence at all,” a British-accented voice whispered into the readers’ ears. “After a while you start to think that it might be better considered as a place dedicated to the collection of sounds.”

The readers, who had signed up in advance, were both the audience and the stars of “The Quiet Volume,” a 55-minute stealth performance piece by the British artists Ant Hampton and Tim Etchells being staged through Sunday by Performance Space 122 as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. (The piece, which also comes in a Spanish-language version, is also running at the Schomburg Center in Harlem.)

“The whole thing made you think about the nature of your sensory experience while reading, the relationship between the voice in your head and the words on the page,” said Jessica Harris, a graduate student who had just finished performing the piece with a friend.

Stop the Whitewash!! Artist Decries Removal of Her Mural at San Francisco Branch Library

An artist who helped paint the community-created Victor Jara mural on Bernal Heights Branch Library today asserted her rights to 90-day notice prior to destruction of the mural so that she may have an opportunity to remove it. Story from Indy Media.

Nora Roman, whose name is listed on the mural as one of the artists, sent a letter to the City Librarian Luis Herrera and other San Francisco officials asserting her rights under the California Art Preservation Act (CAPA).

CAPA provisions include a requirement that the owner of a work of art that is to be destroyed must give 90 days notice to the artist so that he or she may remove the work. No such notice had been given to Ms. Roman as of yesterday, October 2, the date the City Librarian announced that the mural would be painted out in two days, October 4. He spoke in the Bernal Heights Branch, during one of 11 previously-scheduled meetings citywide to discuss with the public the library’s open hours for the next five years.

Peter Warfield, Executive Director of Library Users Association, said it appeared that the library had made no effort to locate Ms. Roman, to offer her, as one of the artists, an opportunity to remove the mural. “Even though Nora Roman’s name is on the side of the mural as one of the artists, the library did not bother to let her know what it planned for the mural – namely complete destruction followed by replacement with something that leaves out any reference to the most important elements of the existing mural,” he said.

Mr. Warfield said the planned replacement gives an unexplained “financial fee” of $16,800 to the Friends of SFPL, where no such fee was involved in an original refreshment plan previously approved by the Library Commission in 2009.

New Use for An Old Friend, the Date Stamp

From Colossal: I can’t remember the last time I saw the actual use of a rubber date stamp, most libraries exchanged them for fancy barcodes and other digital systems a decade ago. 

But Italian artist Federico Pietrella who lives and works in Berlin has a fantastic use for them in his paintings made from thousands of densely stamped ink dates. In his enormous ink artworks Pietrella always stamps the current date, thus each of his pieces contains a clear timeline of the days he worked on it, often spanning two months. You can see much more on his website and watch a brief interview with artist courtesy of Deutsche Welle. (via visual news)

The Sketchbook Project. of the Brooklyn Art Library

A Home for Sketchbooks of the World
For $25, any doodler, student, parent, graphic designer, architect (like Ms. Sumayang) or would-be artist with an idea can fill a 32-page sketchbook and add it to the collection. Some, like Ms. Sumayang, drop in; others sign up online. “I thought, ‘Why not?’ ” Ms. Sumayang said on a recent visit. “It’s down the road.”

For six years, the Sketchbook Project has been offering intimate glimpses into the imaginations of its worldwide contributors. Steven Peterman, a printmaker, and Shane Zucker, a Web developer, founded the project in Atlanta in 2006. They moved it to Brooklyn in 2009: first to Red Hook, then to Williamsburg in late 2010.

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