Case Study: Gather – a micro-library of art + design books

2.2.20 — Inspired by my dissent towards the inhospitable public spaces and lack of room for collaboration on campus at UMass Boston, I sought to investigate the idea of creating a library of art and design materials for students to use.

Using only my department-assigned locker, I curated a small library of art and design books and materials for public access.

Inside of the library.. well.. locker

01. Ideation - a public space problem

This library came to life as an intervention – a reclaiming of the underutilized public space of the halls of the art department. In what I believe to be a space for inspiration and collaboration, the lack of accomodating space to sit and converse was very upsetting to me.

I considered what space I could occupy witout getting into too much trouble - and luckily I had a locker assigned in a fairly high-traffic location!

02. What Makes A Library?

There were two major challenges that I faced in this project. The first being books - as in, where do I get the books from?

Part of the inspiration for Gather was a lack of design resources, so naturally, I didn't have access to many texts. To solve this, I scoured the local public libraries and put piles of books on reserve and lugged them over to my library.

This exercise in itself was useful - I discovered new titles that I hadn't heard of! Gather became a sort of library of libraries.

The second major challenge was to create a borrowing system. To keep track of books I created a finite number of plastic tags (below), which were in a bin affixed to the interior of the locker. In addition to that, I created signage which suggested the materials were for in-department use only. This was a compromise to the ethos of the project but felt necessary.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have risked my Cambridge Public Library card, but after all, this was an intervention!

A front view of locker 4039

using my simple laserjet printer, I printed logo to temporarily paste on book spines

a HDPE laser cut tag for the borrowing system, inspired by the visitor tags at local museums

process of making spine tags – cutting, pasting, gluing, repeat

A collection of the non-bound materials / posters that I collected for design inspiration

03. More Than Just Books – the visual language and aesthetics of libraries

In order to investigate what visually signals that something is a library, I did some research and ultimately created a mood board of micro-libraries from which I borrowed some of the concepts, such as the spine labels and borrowing tags.