BookSpaces: A personal project to document and celebrate libraries and other spaces dedicated to books

A Library Planet post by Rob Lee.

When I was at school, students were not permitted inside my school’s library. It was a space for the librarian and her books. Those of us looking for information, inspiration or just a book to read would wait while an appropriate publication was brought from the shelves and offered to us under loan conditions bordering on a contract for our souls. The library was a well ordered sanctuary for ancient tomes.

Times have changed. Recently, I visited a public library where children parked their bikes among the shelves. To leave their transportation outside the building carried a high risk of theft. The librarian wanted the local kids to read more than he wanted a tidy space.

As the function and purpose of libraries and other book spaces evolve, it seems crucial to collect dedicated images of the activities they undertake, the technologies they use and the environments they occupy. Book spaces have character and purpose. We create them for their communities and, as such, they reflect the stories associated with their locality and the local people. I wish to capture the unusual, the quirky and the curious aspects of book spaces that reveal a connection with their community.

‘BookSpaces’ is a personal, photographic endeavour. The project is a visual exploration of the spaces we dedicate to books. It aims to create a pictorial record of libraries and other places where printed materials are collected, organised, stored and used. These spaces offer unique architecture, facilities and artefacts that hold stories of intellectual and social significance. BookSpaces is an attempt to document some of these stories.

I wander the country seeking book spaces to photograph. I meet wonderful people along the way. They share their stories and show me new ways to learn, old ways to access information and innovative ways to share ideas. Some spaces are grand and impressive. Others are merely the space left over after other activities are prioritised. I am yet to find a book space that is a waste of space.

The project may not capture the impressive architecture and stunning technologies of the world’s biggest libraries, but it does try to celebrate the familiar book spaces that we all see in our local communities.

Photos by Rob Lee.

Find out more about the BookSpaces project:


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