Do you see libraries and archives as a source of creative inspiration? If you do, are you able to find the material you need? Are there ways in which they could do more to meet the needs of artists and designers more effectively? These are just some of the questions posed by The Library as Incubator Project. Their blog features interviews, resource guides, and ideas for projects that have been collected from creative practitioners and library staff who facilitate interesting arts programmes. Since the blog’s launch in 2011, they have talked to over 750 artists, writers, performers, and library staff about art in and inspired by libraries.
One of the projects featured is an innovative art trail staged by 15 postgraduate graphic design and illustration students from Edinburgh College of Art at the city's Central Library in 2013. Inspired by the building and its collections, the aim of the exhibition was to highlight the importance of libraries in a digital age. As MA Graphic Design student Sigrid Schmeisser said:
“we cannot discount the tactile nature of public libraries that cannot be recreated on-screen. Libraries are often home to rare books, prints and manuscripts ... the public has access to these artefacts [in a form] that no scan or image can recreate.”
The artworks were designed to encourage library visitors to explore the collections. They included light-reflecting mobiles in the children’s library; an Edgar Allan Poe inspired illustration in the reference section; a digital animation in the lending library and ornate paper crafts outside the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection.