Dear Stockbridge Library, how would you like an artwork to celebrate Book Week?

Posted on 08/10/2014 by



Stockbridge Library has been selected as one of five Scottish libraries to benefit from a new permanent artwork as part of Book Week Scotland 2014.

The purpose of the installation, which will be unveiled on the first day of Book Week Scotland on 24 November, is to make libraries more visible in their own communities and to raise awareness of them as important assets for local people to enjoy.

The artwork will be created by Glasgow-based artist Rachel Barron and will be inspired by Dear Library, a poem written by best-selling Scottish author and playwright Jackie Kay as part of Book Week Scotland’s Love Your Library! campaign. Dear Library highlights the important role that libraries can play at every stage of an individual’s life, from childhood to old age.

Rachel has been given one verse of the poem to inspire her, which is written from the perspective of an expectant mother, and it is hoped that the resulting artwork will encourage the local Stockbridge community to visit their library to begin or continue their reading journey.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Convener for Culture and Sport, said: “I am delighted that Stockbridge Library has been selected for this project in support of Book Week Scotland 2014. Naturally, Edinburgh’s public libraries champion reading all year long with a host of activities to help people develop a love of books – but we are also proud to welcome a number of cultural and community events through the doors of Edinburgh’s libraries. We hope this event will entice people to visit their local library in Stockbridge to view Rachel’s art, and let people realise how much more there is to their local library.”

Sophie Moxon, Deputy CEO of Scottish Book Trust, the organisation delivering Book Week Scotland, added: “Following the success of our Reading Murals project in 2013, we are delighted to be unveiling five original artworks by young artists in libraries across the country for Book Week Scotland 2014. Jackie Kay’s ‘Dear Library’ beautifully illustrates the knowledge, inspiration and comfort that libraries can provide for people of all ages and we hope the artworks will too.”

Commenting on the commission, artist Rachel Barron said: “I am delighted to be part of the Artwork for Libraries project, as this is my first opportunity to create a permanent artwork within a public space. I am really looking forward to meeting and engaging with the local community in a series of creative workshops inspired by my current practice and vision for the permanent artwork.”

Rachel lives and works in Glasgow and Gothenburg, Sweden. She graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) from Edinburgh College of Art’s Painting Department in 2011, and since then she has exhibited across Scotland. Her work encompasses print, sculpture and installation through exhibitions and participatory projects that engage directly with the public. Recent projects have transformed gallery spaces into live print workshops, which invite the public to participate by contributing their own artwork to the exhibition display. She aims to encourage artistic expression within people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities; providing the opportunity and environment to uncover the creative potential in everyone.

The other four artworks to be unveiled will be in Musselburgh, Saltcoats, Lennoxtown and Shetland.

And the poem …

Dear Library

See when ah wiz wee
ma faverit day wis
Wednisday, library day,

when Ma an me wid go tae ma library
an I wid get to pik ma book
an get it stampd oot

efter the ither yin had been stampd in
and I hid ma very ain card
which wiz a wee magic envlope

that took me tae anither world
awthegither fu o’ caracters an creatures, auntie lopes,
big broon bears, loins and tigrs, new wurds

an anythin an aw’thin I wants tae ken aboot
the moon, stars, sea, the hale galaxy, the wide wurld
wiz at the tip o my fingers in ma locall library.
Always a new book to wolf down in the dead of night,
a borrowed book to read by torchlight…
In the morning, last night’s saved page turns
to who last had this book out
and the date returned, 9 June, this year.

This same book in a stranger’s hands, half-known.
Those readers, kindred spirits, almost friends.
You are in transition; you are on the threshold.
The library is the place that gets you. Pure gold.

You are Holden, you’re Lyra, you’re White Fang,
you’re Kidnapped, you’re Skellig, you’re Refugee Boy.
You’re Callum, a nought, you’re Catch 22.
You’re Chris Guthrie. You’re Hyde. You’re Boo Radley.
It’s not Accidental. You are those books. Those books are You.

Inside your mind you’re strong. Safe.
Toss a coin: heads, reader; tails, writer.
The library is the young writer’s first home.
You read pertinent sayings, make your own.
The cool teenager is a member of the library.
I go to my library to find out about the baby
growing like a story inside me: 37 weeks!

My baby is likely to be sucking his thumb, her thumb.
My tight tummy is a drum, a drum.

The child who I will one day – hopefully –
bring back to this library, ah wee one, is turning.

I’ll get her a first library card, bless,
and sit where I’m sat now, reading, to test

the books I’ll soon read to him, fingers crossed.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

The Runaway Bunny, Goodnight Moon
37 weeks: my tummy – boom, boom, beating time!

Come soon wee baby; wee baby come soon.
Come dream in your basket under the shy moon,

My hungry caterpillar, my goodnight gorilla.
My dear wee daughter, my good little fella.
A book borrowed, kindly given.
A book swapped, loved, exchanged.
A book you will always hand back.
A book is a coat for your mind.

You’ve reached the age, 50 something, when you look back
on borrowed books as if they were old friends –
with nostalgia, with affection, intimately known.

The time when you read The Raj Quartet, or Han Suyin
Toni Morrison or Memo for Spring,
Things Fall Apart or Fire on the Mountain.
Poor Madame Bovary. Poor Anna Karenina.

Your life: many characters, bleak houses, long day’s journeys.
Your life of mixed fates, give and takes;
What you borrowed last month, you return today.
Dear Library, you want to say, Dear Library, you have served me
well all my life. You are magnificence, munificence.
You are a book festival every day. There is no way, me an OAP,
could ever value what you’ve given me by money.

There is no measure for the enriching of the mind, friend.
Faithful and trusty, Dear Library, you are a heart stopper, a kind giver.
I treasure your lively silence; your very pleasant librarians.
They represent what a public service is truly, libertarian.

Impossible, did I say that already, to put a price on that. Again,
stop me if I am repeating myself, your staff will tell
me of a Saramago Street in a nearby town.
Browse, borrow, request, renew – lovely words to me.
A library card in your hand is your democracy.

If you were to shut, Dear Library, it would break my heart.
A library user all my life, I’d be lost without my library.
A closed library could only welcome a closed mind.
Is there a kinder place that you can find than your local library?

I want to say, and I do. I pick up my pen and write to you.

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