…if, like museums, the library is simply a place where ideas are imprisoned or laid to rest, shouldn't we aim to be imprisoned along with them[?]
— Paul Elliman in WT Mary Shelley Facsimilie Library)
Can the personal exist within the public? Can the public be made personal? In an attempt to answer these questions, a library user will be imprisoned in the library, along with his entire lending history, for the duration of one week.
While this project will essentially serve to disrupt the normal functionality of the library, a substitute will be offered in the form of a personal library of books, magazines and assorted printed ephemera. This will be available on a reference only basis and can be freely browsed and copied.
If the library is a Heterotopia, ‘a place of all times that is itself out of time, and inaccessible to its ravages’, (Michael Foucault, Of other spaces, 1967)a place where distinctions are blurred, and paradoxes can exist, then this is a library within a library. A juxtaposition of personal and public books within the setting of a functioning public library. The library becomes both a place for the production of work as well as research – questioning conventional ideas about what a library is through the collapsing of established norms within an institutional context.
In a time when much of the content that is physically archived here is becoming digital, can the physical space of the library be put to better use? Can its contents be used to comment on its current role in society? Will this experiment provide any answers to these questions?
Come along and find out what Gareth Lindsay is doing in our Library from 9am to 5pm every day this week!