Wednesday 9 September 2015

OpenLibrary and the endless library

Welcome back after our summer break, we hope you had a nice few weeks!

To ease us back, I thought I'd start with a gentle post about one of my all-time favourite websites - For the uninitiated the goal of OpenLibrary is to be "an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published".

As well as being a catalogue, OpenLibrary also contains millions of scanned copies of books that can either be downloaded, borrowed or read online completely for free. Below is a  selection of the the books to read and books to borrow.

This library is a huge resource -  according to the stats for the past month they had over 7m unique visitors, who borrowed over 95,000 books!

Open library is a resource I have used in three art projects (twice as integral parts of the work and once in the background):

For The Good Reader: Between the Lines, I created a narrative about Paris comparing my own recollections to the stifled descriptions from travel guides. Using a QR code reader readers can borrow electronic copies of each of the guidebooks referred to.

For The Unassuming Collection I created a fictional narrative about a library, illustrated by images from existing books. A QR code on each page linked to the full book behind each of the illustrations. The intention was to create a real library that sat behind the fictional one.

The third way I have used Open Library is to catalogue a small collection of books that was part of an exhibition called Folles de leur Corps at Cafe Gallery Projects, by Sharon Kivland. This was a great way to group the books so a more permanent record could be kept.

I hope this post has given a suggestion of the artistic possibilities of OpenLibrary - the potential of it seems immense to me.


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