For my independent study, in addition to transcribing poems of Fernando Pessoa, I have been studying different ways of archiving and organizing libraries. After reading related texts and visiting libraries, including the Newberry Library and the Poetry Foundation, I created my own (sadly hypothetical) library. Even once I had my plan, it was a long process of selecting books, photographing examples, and creating a book from all of it. Below you can look through a gallery of photos of the book; below that is the same content in digital form.
Jorge Luis Borges imagined a world that is an infinite library, but the effects of living within it sometimes drive the inhabitants to insanity. To me, any library is a world filled with the infinite worlds of books. Not a daunting infinity fraught with frantic searching like Borges imagines, but an exhilarating infinity of opportunities to explore. Every library has a different goal. Public libraries serve the community; institutes like the Newberry Library provide a wealth of information; places like the Poetry Foundation enable readers to discover more and more poetry. It was this goal of discovery that intrigued me, and so I created a Library of Exploration. Anyone who enters is free to explore every corner of the house, and explore all the books, movies, magazines, music, art, and other portals for information and stories within.
Stickers on the spines of books help readers narrow down their exploration; however, the library isn’t split into these four sections.
The library is within a rickety old house whose rooms, closets, cabinets, windowsills, and other corners are all packed with materials. Each spot in the house has its own aura created by the decor and the books/movies/etc. in that space. In this way the house is filled with tiny worlds waiting to be explored. No one walks into this library with a call number of the book they want to pick up. You come in with a mood or thought and find the corner that best suits you at that moment, or wander through with no clue where you’ll sit down until you stumble across the spot for you. You just have to keep exploring.
For example, this is the window you might sit by when you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, or on a hot day where you just wish it would rain. There is also a list of materials that can be found here.
Some books can indeed be found on actual shelves. One example is the story shelf. Its three sections can be divided and titled in a number of different ways: Beginning/Middle/End, Past/Present/Future, Origin/Process/Prediction, etc. Items in the first section include the zine “Little and Big Goals of Life”, The Matrix, How We Decide, and the U.S. Constitution. The second section includes a graphic novel biography of Buddha, a guide to evolution, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, and Memoir: A History. Finally, in the third section can be found books on numerology and the I Ching, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, and 1984.
But most materials are found off shelves because sometimes the environment needs to fit the material– like when what you’re after is comfort. On a bed full of teddy bears, tea cups, and pillows, the following books, movies, CDs, and more are scattered among the blankets:
There are books in every nook and cranny. There’s plenty to read when you need to use the bathroom, from Captain Underpants to an explanation of how exactly the toilet works. On the stairs you have to watch out you don’t start off a domino effect of the books perched precariously on each step– books that have precarious themes themselves, such as revolution, war, or dystopian societies.
If you’re feeling peckish, take a seat in the dining room and there will be plenty to peruse.
Usually fictional characters are company enough, but sometimes it can get lonely. One part of the house lets you experience others’ friendships vicariously, whether they be light-hearted (Betsy-Tacy), adventurous (The Knights of the Round Table), informative (Toxic Friendships), or intellectual (The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti). There’s also plenty of room to curl up with a real live non-paper friend, and there are board games around for when you need a change of pace.
Books can be a great escape, because sometimes you really need to run away from everything. And, of course, there’s a corner for that. My Side of the Mountain, Walden, Paper Towns, Black Boy, The Hobbit, and other stories of journeys or survival guides can be found here.
But sometimes you don’t know where to go, or where you came from, or even where you are. So one shelf is filled with guides to cities (or the universe), tales of explorers, and searches for identity in relation to location.
Every inch of the house has something to offer. Within each room and hallway is so much to discover. And each time you visit a new corner will call out to you, so never stop exploring. So wander in…