Posts filed under ‘books’
Sometimes the littlest library shenanigans are the best library shenanigans, like when your coworker makes you laugh by goofing around with the foam book supports,
or when your friend Nick Humez sends you a cartoon about the Dewey Decimal System.
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.
Craig 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 …
Joke news from 1939. At left, Glasgow Herald, June 15, 1939, page 10.
Similarly, the Library Association Record (London), Series 4, Volume 6, 1939, page 338:
“Then, too I should hope he had at least a nodding acquaintance with the technical jargon, or language if you prefer the term, of librarians and booksellers, so that if told that some incunabula had been found in one of the cupboards, he would not, as did one chairman, order the library to be closed and request the Medical Officer to have it immediately disinfected.”
Thank you, Daniel Traister, for bringing this shenanigan to my attention on Facebook with an image from an unknown publication:
And thank you, Jay Dillon, for providing the versions with citations.
Traister’s Facebook friends then proceeded to yuck it up:
Peter Donaldson: Little things fit for a cradle? I can see lots of health issues!
Jack Lynch: That can give you a bad case of rubrication.
Merrily Taylor: Well, if the darned things proliferate, you find yourself with all these Rare Book Librarians to mind them, and you know how demanding THEY are!
Jay Dillon: What *other* incunable jokes are there? (My own modest contribution to the subsubgenre, some years ago, was to suggest that incunabulists might be called ‘fifteenyboppers’.
Camilo Marquez: I had some grilled with olive oil, oregano and crumbled feta at my favorite Mediterranean spot.
I love when libraries put together oddball mini-exhibitions on obscure topics. (I guess that’s no surprise coming from the person who brought you mini-exhibitions on 19th Century Beards, Different Kinds of Paperclips, and Composition Books.) The Cambridge University Library currently has a display of their towel-related holdings in honor of Towel Day, May 25, celebrating Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Possibly my favorite sentence in the article: “The bibliography of towels is, in fact, remarkably limited.” Thanks, Lynne M. Thomas!
The New Hanover County Public Library in North Carolina held a contest in 2015 for clothing and accessories made from discarded library books and cassette tapes. You can view the runway show above and the full details here. You’re too late to sign up for the 2016 contest, but perhaps they’ll do it again next year. Thanks, Tom Lovell!
To get into Le Boudoir, the cocktail bar of Chez Moi in Brooklyn Heights, you enter a “secret passage” via a bookshelf door. The door is, they say, a replica of a bookshelf in Marie Antoinette’s library, though the books upon it cannot be books she read — they are all in English, and published long after her death. Thanks, Brooklyn Blowback!