Sunday, December 15, 2013

Week 50: The Library

   The book-of-the-week for week 50 is titled The Library. It's a small carousel book with 5 page sections made of old card catalog cards, pages from an 1850's Harper's Monthly, pastepaper, marbled paper, a bit of glue, and ribbon...
carved stone wall of a library in Rome...
   The first libraries originated in Sumer (present-day Iraq) in 2600 BC to house the oldest books... the Sumerians' clay tablets of cuneiform script. In the 6th century BC, the great Mediteranian libraries of Alexandria (Egypt) and Constantinople (Byzantine Empire) were considered the greatest libraries in the world and housed hundreds of thousands of papyrus scrolls. Though the library at Alexandria was burned by the Romans in 48BC and the library at Constantinople was destroyed by a number of fires and wars from 474 AD until 1204... still, beautiful and significant libraries continue to populate our world in every culture and country. Some libraries are specialized collections of rare books, letters, papers, and antiquities housed in museums, churches, temples, and universities. Others are composed of modern information systems of digital media and complex robotics which are located in research centers, government complexes, and modern-day think tanks. ...And some libraries are regional public libraries... old and new... that serve a variety of book devotees in their everyday life. The Library  is inspired by one extraordinary public library... the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Carnegie Public Library,  1905
"On April 26, 1898, Mr. Carnegie approved a grant of $200,000(by the end of the project, this figure had increased to $244,000) to purchase property and construct a building to house a Free Public Library, 800-seat Music Hall, Lecture Hall(now with 140 seats from the former Grand Theater of Carnegie, Pennsylvania), and Gymnasium. This amount included funds for purchasing enough land, not only for the building, but also for a small in-town park adjacent to the building. This grant also included an additional $10,000 for the purchase of the Library's first supply of books. After the purchase of property, construction of the building, and the purchase of the first supply of books, the remainder of the $254,000($93,000) was used to establish an Endowment fund for the Andrew Carnegie Free Library. The site chosen for this project was on a hill in the middle of town, overlooking the business district." 
- History of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall Carnegie, Pennsylvania, By Glenn A. Walsh, September, 1997; June, 2000

The old libraries have that warm cozy aura of polished wood, tall ceilings, and stacks and stacks of bookshelves... The five page sections of The Library are glued side-to-side to form a series of three accordion strips which are then sewn together with pamphlet stitches.  At the top and bottom of each page section, there are tipped-on folded triangles that create the floor and roof. 

stretched out like book cases...
This is a great exercise in geometry.. figuring out the angles of the triangles so the floor lies flat and the roof  slants upward when the book is pulled back to form the carousel. Just in case you want to try it, the triangles of a 5-piece carousel book that lie flat are 72 degrees at the vertex angle and the triangles that are slanted upward are 90 degrees (or more) at the vertex angle. 
the carousel...with marbled paper floor and roof and tied with a red ribbon

Each page section has three layers of paper. The back layer is solid, but the two front layers have cut-outs which create a tunnel-like effect with see-through windows.
see-through windows
...and the architecture of the Pittsburgh Carnegie Public Library has the same layering effect.
inside the Carnegie Public Library, Pittsburgh
The Library unfolds and transforms... as all libraries do....

the roof like aged copper...  or a star shining in the sky