Future of libraries: A library on the water? | SierraSun.com

Future of libraries: A library on the water?

Pam McAdoo
Special to the Sun

Editor’s note

This is the 12th in a series of articles exploring the varied ways that public libraries are continuing to reinvent their services and facilities in order to respond to technological innovation and the specific needs and populations of the communities they serve.

Click here to read part one of the series.

Click here to read part two of the series.

Click here to read part three of the series.

Click here to read part four of the series.

Click here to read part five of the series.

Click here to read part six of the series.

Click here to read part seven of the series.

Click here to read part eight of the series.

Click here to read part nine of the series.

Click here to read part 10 of the series.

Click here to read part 11 of the series.

As today’s libraries continue to change sizes and guises, ever more iterations of the beloved institution are appearing. One of the most beguiling may well be the Floating Library, a pop-up art project master-minded by Sarah Peters.

To reach the library, you need a boat of some kind, as the Floating Library lives on a raft on the waters of Minnesota’s Silver Lake. It is stocked with one-of-a-kind artist books. Because they are designed and crafted by artists, many of the books in the collection push the boundaries of the definition of book.

They are constructed with everything from reflective metallic paper (sunglasses recommended) to paper made of seaweed, and the smallest is only two inches square.

Peters first imagined a library on a frozen lake, when she was working with the Art Shanty Project, an organization that installs artworks on frozen lakes around the Twin Cities. From that starting point she imagined a summertime library-on-a-lake.

Using $200 worth of lumber, she and a couple of friends constructed a raft, which she filled with artist books, reasoning that, “artists can respond to and evoke the lake in interesting ways.”

Shelves face outward, making it easy to browse the collection from your canoe. Or you can check out a book for the afternoon. Each book is housed in plastic to keep it safe from splashes.

Although there are now over 100 books in her collection — everything from poetry to zines about Prince — there is only enough space on the Floating Library raft to house about half.

Many of the books in her collection were commissioned specifically for the Floating Library project, using grant money from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

The library is open just two weekends this summer — full-time staffing is something of an issue — and has joined up with publisher Coffee House Press to add a poet-in-residence.

Peters’ dream is to add more floating libraries on the many lakes in Minnesota.

Pam McAdoo is a board member of the Friends of the Truckee Library. Visit truckeefol.org to learn more.