Monthly Archives: April 2012

No Photos (of libraries past)

When I was creating the map for my exhibition, a large part of the process was drawing each library. I drew the libraries from photos. If I had known from the start of the project I would be doing this then I would have taken more suitable photographs of the full buildings, rather than details. In most cases I had a photo I could work with, but when I didn’t have the image I wanted I searched Google images for additional photos of the libraries. The results generally featured mostly my own photographs from Biblioburbia, and sometimes the tiny jpegs that were on council websites on “branches and opening hours” pages. It was then I realised that people don’t take photographs of libraries.

I was surprised that even in this world of online documentation that it was so hard to find photographs of suburban libraries. Newer buildings were easier to find, with the documentation and press associated with their construction and opening. Older libraries are rarely photographed. The reason for this is perhaps that libraries are functional buildings, and the many branch libraries that were built in the 60s and 70s were plain brick buildings, though not without their own charm.

Apart from the Old Library cafe in Cronulla, throughout my explorations I found no trace of libraries past. They are most often demolished and replaced by the new library, or a new development when the library is relocated: what can you do with an old library?

Finding traces of libraries long gone is like finding buried treasure. This week I found an image of the old Max Webber library in Blacktown, in The Mural Manual by David Humphries and Rodney Monk.

This is the Max Webber Library (opened 2005) today:

Max Webber has grown up! It is like it has ditched the overalls and put on a suit.

I was excited to find the image of this old library, because they are rare, at least as far as the average person searching online is concerned. One of my interests and concerns is the glut of information we have about present day experience, and the trivialisation of the past as merely “nostalgia” or “retro”.  In my opinion the best use of the internet, behind all the animated gifs and status updates, is to archive our personal histories, to reconstruct the past in order to draw together the pre-digital and digital worlds.

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Biblioburbia Exhibition

Here are some photos from the Biblioburbia exhibition at First Draft. You can download the room sheet that accompanied the exhibition here.

This first set is of my map of Biblioburbia, the print of the map, and the book of the blog.

The next photos are Simon Yates’ works inspired by Biblioburbia, Bookface and The Lost World of Microfilm.

Thank you to everyone who helped out with the show, who came along to see it, who bought a print and who told me their library stories.

There are some more photos of the exhibition here.

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