merging art and literature – the public collection

By / Oct 20th, 2015 / , , , , , /

If I was going to be crass, and what the hell I will be, I’d label this post Bookshelf porn…so just to get this out the way, omg #bookshelfporn 

Now that’s out of my system I can talk about this amazing public art project and some of my favourites from the previously noted, saucy conveyance containers.

Developed by Rachel M.Simon, a keen purveyor of the arts (an activist, ex ballet dancer and private investor to boot), the idea behind the project was to create easily accesible and eye catching miniature library/sharing stations. The books are free and you simply pop the covers and take what you please, ‘borrow’ is the idea – and it’s suggested you put back some books of your own, as at the moment the majority of the books are supplied by the Indianapolis Public Library.  

The end goal is to ‘improve literacy, foster a deeper appreciation of the arts, and raise awareness for education and social justice in our community.’

With reading material spanning the age spectrum and plenty of variety within this gamut it’s hard not to see this project being a resounding success. The interactivity and aesthetics of the installations create immediate curiosity and will hopefully encourage people to engage that curiosity by picking up a book.


I have joint favourites within this project. The first of which, created by Brian McCutcheon, expresses the importance and endurance libraries maintain within our society. It’s modern in finish, but traditional in shape language and it comes topped with a message. The quote is as follows – 

A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.  – Mark Twain, 1894

I could see this kind of outdoor book sharing station as a great place for people to meet, discuss their favourite books, make recommendations, all you’d need to do is supply me a comfy bench, a nearby coffee shop and I’d probably visit any day the sun was out. 


The second of my favourites is an industrial looking piece by Brose Partington. Situated at the City Market in Indianapolis, this biblio-monolith has us consider our somewhat privileged situation in modern society. Echoing machinery of agricultural industrialisation and relating that to the industrialisation of publishing, Brose’s work ‘represents the viewer’s ability to pick information much like food and, as such, harvest knowledge.’ 

I’m not going to lie, my main love for this piece is down to the fact it puts me in mind of some sort of Dickensian alternate history vending machine.


More from the Artists in the collection below, along with links to the project online. Enjoy!


Topiary – Eric Nordgulen.



Nautilus – Katie Hudnall



Cool Books, Food For Thought – Tom Torluemke



Evolution of Reading – Kimberly McNeelan

There are a total of nine book dispensaries scattered throughout Indianapolis, so if you live there…go check them out! For those of us elsewhere in the world we’ll have to be content heading over to The Public Collection  and admiring from afar. 

H/T: Colossal

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