Lacuna: The Library Made Out of Books

atkins-bookshelf-booksThe inaugural Bay Area Book Festival, held in Berkeley California from June 5 to 7, 2015, will feature a public library made entirely out of books — 50,000 to be exact. Admission to Lacuna, sitting in MLK Civic Center Park surrounded by 150 other book exhibits, is free. The designers from the FLUX Foundation, a nonprofit organization that builds large-scale public art, wanted to create a living library — one that changes as people interact with it; visitors, therefore, are invited to take a book from one of its bookshelves/walls for free. Members of the Lacuna Project explain: “As books are removed from Lacuna, the structure will morph—gaps in the book brickwork will cause changes in the way light and sound filter through Lacuna’s walls, creating an ever-changing play of color, shape, and sound that will evolve over time… By removing, reorganizing, and replacing books, the walls inside Lacuna will shift, and its this process where we’ll see that each person’s interaction with Lacuna becomes an integral, valued part of the collective story and experience of Lacuna. Through the process of deconstructing and reconstructing Lacuna, each participant will see that the actions and choices of a multi-faceted and robust artistic community have produced a creation significantly different from any one person’s work.” Thus, the apt name for the project, Lacuna, an unfilled space or a missing portion in a book.

To create Lacuna, volunteers sorted through 100,000 books that were donated by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit whose mission is to preserve the world’s cultural artifacts by creating a digital library accessible to everyone, to hand select 50,000 books according to what piqued their interest. The library is circular, built out of 12 alcoves. Each of the alcoves, containing about 3,500 books, has four sides — three walls of bookshelves, capped by pillars made of stacked books; the fourth side is open, allowing a visitor to step into the alcove. At the top of each alcove are guy wires that stretch to a 20-foot central pole. Book pages are attached to the guy wires, creating a literary thatch roof. As they catch the wind, the pages will flutter, wafting that distinctive, rich aroma of ink and paper, that draws bibliophiles like bees to nectar. Just inside the circle of alcoves is a circular bench, made of books, that provides a quiet space for visitors to read, discuss, and reflect on the books taken from its walls.

At bottom, Lacuna is a testament to the venerated library, that due to the rise of the Internet has become, unfortunately, an endangered species. The Lacuna Project discusses the critical role of libraries: “Libraries connect us — to each other, and to ourselves. They nurture our communities with knowledge and ideas, and they provide spaces for discussion and reflection. They open us to worlds unknown, and they reflect our worlds back to us. Libraries are monuments to the pursuit of knowledge, and to the universal right to seek, nurture, and possess knowledge… Lacuna is a temple to the physical weight of books, the space they occupy, and the power of knowledge that is contained with their covers… Like a library, this structure creates a uniquely collaborative, civic space where we can collectively appreciate the important and varied contributions of our community, which is everyday enriched by our collective literary landscape. 

Read related posts: I Am What Libraries Have Made Me
If You Love a Book, Set it Free
The Library without Books
The Library is the DNA of Our Civilization

The Power of Literature

For further reading:


2 thoughts on “Lacuna: The Library Made Out of Books

    • Hi Jen: Thanks for visiting and following Bookshelf. It should be a sight to behold. Even better would be to see a video in real time to see how it changes as visitors/readers interact with it. Cheers. Alex

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