When a project called The Library of Lost Books came to my attention last fall, I knew immediately that we just had to share it on the Library as Incubator Project. All parts of this story are just lovely: a new library, a pile of discarded materials given new life by a group of caring, creative artists, and in the end, a marvelous library-within-a-library that visitors can enjoy. ~ Laura

Project curator and artist Susan Kruse explains that the Library of Lost Books started in 2011 in Birmingham, UK.

“The old Central Library,” she says, “was closing down to be replaced with a spanking new library. Central library discarded a lot of stock in the move to the new library, some of which I hauled out of the refuse bins and took home with me. The books I ‘rescued’ were old, damaged and worn, but also [had] beautiful bindings, letterpress printed pages, or [were] interesting in other ways.

After she gathered a “nice collection” of books, Susan put out a call for UK based artists to contact her if they would like to be involved in a book arts project using the discarded books. Over 250 artists replied, from which 50 were selected to receive a book. Susan sent the lost books to the artists by mail, wrapped in plain brown paper and tied with twine. Upon completion of their creative responses to their lost book, the artists sent the books back to Susan and she put them on display as The Library of Lost Books at the University of Wolverhampton and in the new Birmingham Library.

Visit The Library of Lost Books online to view more gorgeous responses to the lost books by UK artists.

The Library of Lost Books has been turned into a book itself, sponsored by Sheaffer Pens and designed by Jessica Glaser, a Visual Communications lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton.

Susan says, “The Library of Lost Books will hopefully continue on into the future. I still have a quantity of old books that I would like to send out to more artists to be altered and re-made into works of art.”

Susan Kruse is a multimedia artist based in Birmingham in the UK. Learn more about Susan’s work or contact her through her artist website.

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