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Unique Art Creates Unique Experience at Library

by on September 1, 2015

Cedar Rapids Public Library has created a new experience for its patrons. They commissioned local artists and writers to use their windows as writing spaces for stories. The idea itself was actually the brainchild of Molly Rideout, co-director for Grin City Collective, an artist-in-residency organization. Rideout said that after experimenting with text on windows in vinyl, she thought the library would be a good fit for this “text as art” project.

In total there are twelve branches that have these window displays, including a story by Rideout herself. “Cedar Rapids Public Library staff members read through multiple pieces from Rideout and chose a creative non-fiction story. The story, about Grin City Collective itself, was installed Wednesday on the library’s windows. Her piece in the Cedar Rapids library is the biggest out of the 12 libraries chosen for the project. Rideout’s story is about 2,000 words of white text and takes up an estimated 250 square feet of window space at the front of the library. It will remain up through the summer, but the end date has not been set. Dara Schmidt, the library’s director, said that would be determined based on community response. Public writings, including fiction and non-fiction pieces, were created by four authors and installed in 12 libraries. Most of the pieces were not yet published before the project, or even written specifically for each library or town.” (Arnold 2015)

The bigger picture is that libraries are making a point to give their patrons more than just books and videos. Cedar Rapids Public Library’s public relations director, Amber Mussman, said that they are hoping that patrons will look at the library as an experience, as opposed to just a book repository. Using a library as a public art space is not a new idea; however, incorporating original short stories into the foundation of the building is a pretty revolutionary initiative. The library that I work at commissioned some students from the local college’s art department to install wheat paste graffiti on some of the walls on the outside of the building. Similar to Cedar Rapids, these graffiti pieces are not permanent and will be eventually replaced with new artwork. Are there any unique art installations in libraries in your area?

Works Cited

Arnold, Maddy. “Cedar Rapids Public Library puts up unusual public art: The writing’s on the window.” The Gazette, 2015.


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