In a period of just over sixty years… the number of circulating libraries in Britain outside London had grown from two to ‘not less than one thousand,’ an expansion that James Raven and others have characterized as nothing less than a ‘revolution.’
Michael Gamer, Romanticism and the Gothic: Genre, Reception, and Canon Formation
HOLY SHIT. That is, in the course of one lifetime, an astonishing change from “you can read the books that the local squire’s grandfather bought and put in his library, if you’re on good terms with the family” to “you can read ANY BOOKS YOU WANT” – from “you might get access to a couple new books a year if you’re lucking” to “you can read a new book EVERY TIME YOU WANT A BOOK, you never have to re-read again”
It’s been three years of studying the 18thC but I think my mind is still being blown from the effort of imagining life before public libraries. Even circulating libraries still charge a subscription fee, but even if going from “a maid’s annual salary per book” to “a maid’s weekly salary per year’s subscription” doesn’t really let a lot of maids do much reading, it sure opens things up to gentlewomen.
An Old English word for library was “bōchord”, which literally means “book hoard”, and honestly I really think we should go back to saying that because not only does it sound really fucking cool, but it also sort of implies that librarians are dragons.
200,000 Rare Books Are Inside 300 Year Old Dublin Library
The Long Room, as this 300 year old library has been dubbed, is stowed away in a corner of Dublin’s Trinity College. The magnificent library is boasted to be the largest in Dublin, and contains over 200,000 rare books that would make any scholar, student or teacher make a permanent nest within these 65 feet long walls holding a precious amount of knowledge. The library was built in 1712 and 1732, and is dotted with Peter Scheemakers’s famous bust sculptures.
Have you ever thought about how much is available to you, to use and take in and enjoy, without needing to own them? Concerts, libraries, parks, a good joke, sunsets, the smell of freshly cut grass, soaking in the sun a lazy afternoon in August, or sharing a cup of coffee with someone you love on a still Sunday morning, watching the world wake up? And have you ever thought about the fact that memories, all your memories, are built on these things—things you don’t need to own. They are like the universe’s gift to us all, to enjoy. Like a present to celebrate you being here. How beautiful is that?
I’m PUMPED to share this poster with you–It’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve completed in the past year. I was asked by JStor to create an image of a student’s desk…and to, basically, have fun with it. I filled the space with treasured objects from my studio, from my memories, and from my own research projects on JStor. I included some detail shots because this poster was HUGE and I was able to get really detailed.
Detail 1: An excerpt from a quote that is very important to me. Detail 2: Some book spines, including a sneak peak of the spine of Compass South (our first story, Hope! :)) Detail 3: A ticket stub that is very important to me. (and I only wish I owned that skull) Detail 4: Pluche, or the Love of Art–a good book and you should read it.
This poster will be distributed to school libraries and institutions across the country.
In addition, JStor also came to my studio and filmed a little interview with me about the poster. If you are interested in seeing my adorably low-budget studio space and my pink-potato face, you can watch it here. (edit: or below)
in the Appalachian mountains on horseback delivering books and reading
to those who could not as a feature of the Works Progress Administration
(WPA) of the 1930’s. Established in 1935, the Pack Horse Library
Project was aimed at providing reading materials to rural portions of
Eastern Kentucky with no access to public library facilities. Librarians
riding horses or mules traveled 50 to 80 miles a week up rocky
creekbeds, along muddy footpaths, and among cliffs to deliver reading
materials to the most remote residences and schools in the mountains.
Some homes were so remote that the book women often had to go part of
the way on foot, or even by row boat. — with Stephanie McSpirit.