An art book is a museum without walls. Andre Malraux
The writer and statesman Malraux would appreciate the perfection of a summer evening on a floating library of art books anchored on a busy urban lake. The museum without walls is a reality this summer at the Floating Library, an experimental public art project set to launch mid-July on Lake Phalen on St. Paul’s East Side. (https://thefloatinglibrary.org)
Visitors to the Floating Library will find circulating and reference collections contributed by artists nationwide and internationally. A staff of hardy floating librarians will facilitate check out, make reading suggestions, answer reference questions and otherwise quench the reader’s thirst for information and ideas – whether it’s information on book art or traditional beach reading.
The Floating Library will be anchored off shore near Phalen Park Beach on weekends mid-July through early August (weather permitting). Daily hours are 1:00-6:00 p.m.
The genius behind the Floating Library is Sarah Peters, an artist, writer and art administrator who is committed to public engagement with the arts and the critical challenges of the day. Though she is primarily a book artist Parker is also a spark behind the Northern Spark Festival and a visionary with a “dream of turning the lakes of Minneapolis into a creative commons.” Some months ago Parker issued a an art for book arts appropriate to a raft-anchored library; background information on some of the other participating book artists can be found on the Floating Library website
Ever at the nexus of East Side St Paul projects, folks at the East Side Freedom Library are planning related activities. On Sunday, July 10, 1:00-4:00 p.m. Aaron Johnson-Ortiz, visiting artist at ESFL will host a bookmaking workshop for people of all ages and skills; attendees will create zine and book forms that will displayed on the Floating Library and archived at ESFL.
Visitors to the Floating Library don’t just park and drop in. They will need a canoe, kayak, paddleboard, rowboat or other small craft. Library users will BYOB (boat, that is) or check out navigable craft that can be rented by the weekend from the U of M Recreation Department. Cautionary note: The rental office is closed on weekends so craft pickup must be on Friday.
Floating Library visitors may want to test the waters by checking out these links:
- The Floating Library 2014 – dozens of candid shots of past adventures —https://www.flickr.com/photos/sp_pics/sets/72157653377650962)
- Article published by the Knight Foundation, one of the funders of the Floating Library project: http://www.knightfoundation.org/blogs/knightblog/2016/6/8/book-art-available-you-have-paddle-get-there/
- Phalen Park Beach map:https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/parks-recreation/aquatics/phalen-park-beach