The Sketchbook Project

I signed up for Art House Co-op’s 2012 Sketchbook Project. I am really excited to participate this year, after checking out books that were part of the 2011 tour. The project is basically a roving library of handcrafted books submitted from authors/artists from around the world. Last year’s tour included 10,000 books submitted from 94 different countries! Authors pay $25 to participate, and their books become part of a permanent collection housed at the Brooklyn Art Library. Each book has a theme, which is meant to be a guidepost rather than a straight jacket. The author can do just about anything s/he wants with the book, as long as it retains the original dimensions (1 x 5.25 x 7.25) and the barcode assigned to it. The barcode helps the librarians keep track of the books, and the authors keep track of who’s reading their book along the way.

Readers register onsite for a library card, and are allowed to check out two books at a time. A reader can ask for a book by a specific author, for a title submitted under a particular theme, or for the librarians to select one at random. The books can only be viewed on site during limited hours, which has a couple of cool effects: 1) people camp out and read for hours, squished together with strangers in all the nooks and crannies available in the host site, and 2) people are keen to swap books with a nearby reader to avoid having to wait in the long line to check out more books, which fosters a spirit of shared experience and competition.

My mom had a book on last year’s tour (see photographic evidence!) and it was such a cool experience to go and check it out. Mom’s book was by far the coolest book I saw there, and other folks thought so, too. More than a few of my neighbors eyed the book and then some just outright demanded to see it! It was really wonderful–a book full of wishes for my newborn niece, O. It’s a lot to live up to, but I do love a challenge.

I chose the theme Hope for my book, and I need to give some serious thought to this over the weekend since my book is due 1/31. I can’t decide whether I want to write about my own hopes (and we all know who will play the lead in that story) or about my hopes for the reader. Wouldn’t it be kind of a fun surprise to think you’re checking out a book about a stranger’s hopes for herself and then find that the stranger wrote about her hopes for you? I think it could be cool without being too woo woo. But I need to sleep on it. I’ll keep you posted!


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