What is a library?
Students in Vesna Pavlovic’s photography class enjoyed a project that answered the question “what is a library?” in a number of forms. Starting with written statements of their ideas about libraries, students then explored the Peabody library to find answers in terms of architecture, knowledge, sound, silence and performance.
The resulting work, exhibited last spring in the Peabody Library, examined how students use and respond to library spaces, resources and each other. Pavlovic said while the students were developing their pieces they were also considering where they would be installed in the library.
“We were interested in analyzing the culture of the student group and ways of ‘using’ this material as well as the space,” she said, adding that she may create a library project each year to build an archive of images. “If each time we can address a different library on campus, over the years, this can become an interesting creative documentation of our campus.”
Student Ashley Carter played off Belgian surrealist René Magritte’s painting The Treachery of Images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) with a pair of photographs: “This is not a library” and “Neither is this (Still not a book).”
“This project changed my perception of a library,” Carter said. “I originally came in with the assumption that the library was solely a place of learning. However, after this project, I started walking into the library aware of very different aspects—the social, the mystery, the comfort and its unique aesthetic.”