archival shenanigans


Artist Bill Domonkos uses archival images in the public domain to make seriously spooky animated gifs.

Thanks, Dina Wood!

Happy Halloween, everybody!

October 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm Leave a comment

self-checkout and more

BookBub provides a nice gathering-up of library shenanigans by librarians, saying “Anyone who has spent a lot of time in libraries knows that the books aren’t the only reason to keep going back. Librarians are some of the most unique, intelligent, and clever people you’ll meet.”

My personal favorite is the self-checkout mirror. Thanks, Amy Shuffelton!

October 25, 2016 at 2:56 pm Leave a comment

John Latham’s “Art and Culture”

My colleague Diane Westerfield found a library shenanigan in a scholarly article!

“The Library in Art’s Crosshairs” by Henry Pisciotta. Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, v. 35 no. 1, Spring 2016.
“British artist John Latham, while teaching at St. Martin’s School of Art in 1966, checked out a copy of Greenberg’s respected book [Art and Culture] from his school’s library and took it to an evening gathering of friends and students, where the book’s pages were removed and chewed, by a number of participants, and spat into a jar. Later Latham, keenly interested in science, performed a series of chemical transformations on the remains, slowly reducing them to a goo, which he sealed into a glass vial. Overdue notices were received from the library, so Latham eventually attempted to return the book to the librarian in its modified state. This offer was refused. Latham’s teaching contract was not renewed. A few years later, Latham fashioned a carrying case for the vial, some of the lab apparatus, and the library notices, and  today the assemblage is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.”

The resulting artwork, titled, like the original book, “Art and Culture,” is not currently on view at MoMA, but you can see more information about it here.

October 6, 2016 at 1:52 pm Leave a comment

art made from digitized non-circulating books

Temple BarCraig Conley makes visual art from digitized “non-circulating” library books. As he explains in his artist’s statement:

Some library books, for a variety of reasons, become “non-circulating.”  … It’s a precious status, indicative of value, rarity, and refererence-worthiness.  Yet there’s a tinge of sadness, too — a hint of decrepitude and dormancy.  We asked a book-whisperer and learned that books do wish to circulate, to be worldly, to mingle, to be at large. …  Then, through a painstaking process involving collaged elements from non-circulating volumes of old magazines, we add some talisman-like flowing imagery to break the stagnation …

September 27, 2016 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

I’ve got a golden ticket…

…I’ve got a golden twinkle in my eye…

Colorado College’s Tutt Library is currently undergoing a major renovation, and most of our books are off-site until the fall of 2017. During this school year, as we retrieve and drop off materials multiple times a day, we are placing golden tickets into random books:


And thus, I have this song in my head almost all the time now.

September 7, 2016 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

blueberry shenanigans

Guest blogger Jonathan Caws-Elwitt supplies these excellent Susquehanna County Library Shenanigans.


Newberry the Blueberry [at right] with the author, 2007.

When my wife, Hilary Caws-Elwitt, worked for the Susquehanna County library system in Montrose, Pennsylvania, an important part of her job—an important part of everybody’s job—was the Blueberry Festival, the big annual fundraiser held every August.

Most years, Hilary’s festival duties included some time spent working the crowd in the Newberry the Blueberry costume. That was normal. But in 2006, Hilary added to her repertoire by staging another little stunt for herself.

The library had been selling Blueberry Festival cookbooks, and Hilary wanted to try offering them online. As she explains, “because the time spent would be a gamble, I ‘bet’ my boss that I would roll a blueberry down the sidewalk with my nose if we didn’t sell at least N copies (or make X dollars—I don’t remember which it was).” She notes that the bet was a premeditated idea, not an impulse of the moment.

And though Hilary did her best to market the cookbooks, she admitted at the outset that she was “rooting to lose, because I thought it would be funny and possibly newsworthy” to do the blueberry-rolling stunt.


Hilary Caws-Elwitt rolls a blueberry down the sidewalk.

Hilary continues: “We didn’t quite meet the target by the time July rolled around, so in my pitch letter to the local TV news stations [for festival coverage], I mentioned that I’d be doing the stunt. At the designated time, a TV crew was indeed present.” But, in terms of spectacle value, the display did not quite bear fruit. “Rolling the berry, even downhill, was quite challenging because it was so small, blueberries aren’t very round, and the sidewalk was rough.” The halting and inelegant progress of Hilary and the berry down the sidewalk didn’t shape up as what we’d call “good television.”

However, the stunt did make it onto television … and yet there was a little issue with contextualization. “The footage ended up being broadcast under a narration about the festival, which didn’t mention at all who I was or what I was doing. So there was no explanation for why this middle-aged woman was crawling around on all fours with her butt in the air.” The blueberry, of course, was too small to be seen by TV viewers. “Luckily I never mind making a fool of myself.”

by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt

August 25, 2016 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

excellent literary prank (even if it’s fake)

Video made by Generic Theater in Virginia in 2011. As this explanatory article says, “Why it’s gone viral four years after the play stopped running is anyone’s guess! The Internet is a strange place.” Thanks, Emily Lloyd!

August 16, 2016 at 9:46 am Leave a comment

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