Thursday, March 22, 2007

Art at the library

Our local chamber of commerce's leadership development class lunched at the library last week as part of their "arts" day, and after lunch had an opportunity to view our public art collections. Or maybe check their email -- but I was asked to give them a quick speech about art at the library.

So why do we have art at the library? We certainly have art materials at the library: books and videos about art history; books and videos about techniques and tools for artists; examples of other arts in our extensive music CD collection and our film DVD collections.

We have art because we communicate the cultural record and we're a community center. If we have books with pictures of sculpture and painting, why wouldn't we have sculpture and painting?

Our art falls into several categories:

  1. Donations from our library foundation to enhance the facility. This includes a couple of dozen items selected by staff. Almost all of it is by local artists, and a number of pieces have a local history theme.
  2. The Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Print series.
  3. Paper sculpture at entrance -- a huge work we commissioned, created by local paper artist Tom Grade, working with school children and funded by multiple grant sources
  4. Publicly donated pieces, including two memorial sculptures as well as other paintings, fabric and paper art.
  5. Exhibits from local artists in different areas of the building
  6. Displays, including several display cases around the building -- used for library programs, collector displays, or art and craft displays suitable for the cases. As needed display cases are sometimes used with exhibit panels of hanging art.
Of course, all the donations have to be accepted by the Library Board, according to policy. This gives staff an opportunity to work with donors and artists to ensure any proposed pieces are a good fit. But it's great to have public art, reinforce the library's role as a community center and provide an outlet for creativity.

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