A CONVERSATION ABOUT LIBRARIES…
. . . we indeed become producers, inventors and adventurers of living stories through the multiplicity and vastness of environments we encounter in our everyday life!
So indeed this then is the story we live through weaving and being stirred/moved between library spaces and the rest of the Universe. Hence our experiences of life can be enriched through libraries in the ways a library space can mirror the world. In this sense, I feel how we experience libraries can be synonymous to who we are as people; as a society and an individual, who can journey within surrounding landscapes and find wonderful adventures to live and love life to its fullest. And so the story begins . . .
Living libraries are about spaces into which we, in the course of our everyday life experience explore, read and enjoy. A library as we all know is indeed a space that typically has books. In this article what I propose to share is a way of looking at library spaces not constrained by four or however many corners of a walled space, but as indeed a dynamic interaction within the multitude of spaces we encounter on a day to day level. I propose this kind of library space as experiential both in the pragmatic everyday sense of life as well existing in the remit of our imagination and remembrances of dreams past and fantasies explored.
Living Libraries within you and me
Having books in libraries may in the present day context seem a very conservative and traditional idea of what a library space essentially is. We all know how very important books are, whether it be directly or indirectly. Therefore it makes sense to have an allocated space into which all these wonderful books are stored and protected from the elements. And yet, the content and living forms of all these books lie beyond the walls of a library. Books in themselves are like empty vessels that can receive stories and contain them. If then a book on a bookshelf unread in a library space were to be read, you can imagine how the world of adventures unfold in you. The places you have read the people you have gotten to know through the book, the questions, fears, emotions and challenges you felt while reading may feel overwhelming. And yet to feel a sense of mystery in how a book unknown to you, resting on a grey shelf forgotten has now opened within you a world you had never explored before! A book can indeed be deceptive by its cover.
A variety of easy books that could be made
Take an A4 sheet of regular bond paper. Fold the paper in half then quarter and again till you get 1/8th i.e. when you open the folded paper you will get a grid like this:
Now you have your basic book!
You can also fold your A4 sized paper into different grids and topics!
Whatever, now the book has opened within you a landscape to be traversed. A journey to be taken. The story has found you; waiting to reveal and wanting to share its world with you. Where to go? What to do? How to immerse in the plot of the story? How to begin? Where to begin?
While visiting a library you may have chanced upon a storybook. You may have chosen to read this story and later put it back on the shelf. Yet the story that you read is now living through you. The descriptions of a river, of a tree, of a person, of the mountains, the sea the sky the stars are all living and further exploring other stories you have read before in other libraries and in other places. The new story finds a landscape with many other stories you share.
Many hours many days may pass. Many weeks and months even years if not decades pass. The story is still there within you waiting to be lived through you. A glance at a spider one day while strolling along a street takes you back to a story you remember as a child. Was that story a real story of how the spider spoke to the pig? Is it possible that spiders can communicate with pigs or even with you and me? Who are spiders anyway? What goes on in their mind? Do they have families?
And so the story triggers many thoughts, sometimes doubts and questions, at other times amusing reflections we encounter through our experiences 24 X7.
Nutshell – a museum and library in my pocket
A story in a matchbox:
This is about how you can become an adventurer and explore the world.
Find a used matchbox that has no matchsticks in it.
You may like to take a magnifying glass, some sellotape, a pen pencil and a scissor and
some sheets of A4 size paper
Go for a walk by yourself or with a friend to a place that you would very much like to explore.
Stop wherever you find anything that interests you – catches your eye
- Spend time there and observe all the things that you see, hear, smell, can touch
- See what relationships you find – e.g. is there some connection to how things are situated or existing together in some way?
- What can you find in relation to what you are observing that you can collect to put in your matchbox? Make sure you are not disturbing anything.
- Collect different things that you would like to explore further in your matchbox
- Is there any topic or theme that seems to be emerging in the way you are finding things that can fit into your matchbox? – e.g. your collection has something in relation to how patterns are formed in nature
Examples of matchbox collections –
Jot down notes whenever you can . . . like how long does it take for different materials to decompose on this planet?
. . . You can make different types of miniature booklets that can fit into your matchbox
. . . Write descriptions of what you have found on your journey, draw pictures, take rubbings, collect samples – all that you can put into your matchbox!
Write a poem that connects all the things in your matchbox
Can you map the journey/route that you took on your adventure?
Can you make citations of all the interesting things, events, thoughts, feelings, ideas you had on the way!
Libraries are a manifestation of what happens in each of us i.e. we too are carriers of stories, of dreams, of facts. We too have memories of images and stories of places and people who have met in our imagination. We wander in our imagination from shelf to shelf searching for a new inspiration. And like our thoughts – books often quietly remain hidden on a bookshelf, often in a library, waiting to breathe its life and live it’s tale in you and me.
Many thanks to Sita School children, Jane Sahi and Sujata Noronha for keeping this conversation alive!