What if you could wear a pair of headphones and wander library shelves listening to the babble of books reading themselves aloud? What if you could tune into different frequencies of books, or use their dewey call numbers to call them on the telephone?
In 2013 I was invited by the UTS Library to be their first artist in residence, spending six months working with the librarians and exploring the library. The nature of computer interfaces for exploring and browsing library collections was becoming ever more relevant, especially for UTS Library as it prepared to store eighty percent of its collection in an automated underground retrieval system.
The aim of the residency was to show that, rather than being sterile and uninspiring, these interfaces can be creative, delightful tools that encourage playful exploration and serendipitous discovery.
Featured works from the residency were shown in the exhibition Shelf Life at the DAB LAB Research Gallery. The exhibition explored the dual ‘shelf lives’ of books and of outmoded technologies.
A device for ‘tuning-in’ to the books in a library.
A telephone for dialling library books.
A visual system for examining, comparing and exploring large library collections.
Library return chutes that prompt more thought-provoking returns.