I was browsing through Rhizome.org and came across the Public Library of American Public Library Deaccession. And then I saw the website for the Proteus Gowanus gallery and reading room. And then this Reanimation Library. It’s always good to be on the lookout for when library stuff intersects with art or popular culture. Partially for nice “your-job-is-cool” affirmations and partially to police co-opters and poseurs out of a sense critical ownership of the profession.
Projects like these get me really excited and I think they are totally endearing. But as much as I like to envision myself as a character in some French new wave film, most days I feel more like that shoe store lady in the ZZ Top video for Legs (pre-makeover). Things like the Reanimation Library and this Proteus Gowanus thing seem to intentionally divorce themselves from the realities of library work. Through the romantic haze, one forgets that your average branch library is really not very cute, but rather gross.
Reanimation also invokes Ranganathan, which in the context of its mission, is appropriate. But something about the Ranganathan pin , especially when paired with the self-described “mysterious” logo pin, wants me to pull out the Edward Said. (But I am loving the hot dog.) The more I think of it, this Victorian conjuring and the focus on library as theme further fills me with a sense of dread over the death of the profession. The focus on deaccessioning, weeding, and recontextualizing allow the actual library space to be effectively, deconstructed, and suggest that a classic library experience is better attained by a visit to a museum, gallery, or arty website.