The Library as Incubator Project is pleased to feature the Provisions Library for the Provisions Learning Project at George Mason University. – Laura

From the Provisions “About” page:

Provisions Learning Project is a research, education and production center investigating the intersections of arts and social change.

Provisions is a leading voice advancing knowledge and promoting understanding of a wide-range of social topics, and producing innovative models to critically investigate issues surrounding these topics. With its extensive library, public programming, and research opportunities, it supports artistic, intellectual, and activist endeavors that explore the social dimensions of contemporary culture.

Provisions features programs such as exhibitions, public art, residencies, screenings, workshops, lectures, and publications. To further disseminate its mission and programs, Provisions seeks partnerships and collaborations with artistic, educational, and philanthropic organizations.

Artists who wish to explore certain subjects at the intersection of arts and social change are welcome to visit (virtually or in person) the Provisions Library. Anyone can browse the subject tags in the Provisions Library Catalog.

The library’s catalog of 5,000 resources is organized into social change topics, or “meridians,” like Gender & Identity and Environmental Sustainability.

For a striking example of one project with which the Provisions Library has been involved, visit the exhibition website for THE CASA BLANDA.

Donald Russell, Executive Director of the Provisions Learning Project, answered some questions about the Provisions Library in fall 2011.

Provisions Library at the Provisions Research Center, George Mason University.

Provisions Library at the Provisions Research Center, George Mason University. Photo courtesy of Donald Russell.

Does your library offer arts-related programs or services?  If so, who is the target audience for these programs?

Yes, we have organized numerous exhibitions and public art projects focusing on a wide range social change topics.  Our primary audience is college students, since we are located at a George Mason University, but we also curate shows for museums and foundations nationally and have produced art projects in Colombia and the Balkans. We also have a residency program for exploring potential social change methods through the arts.

Do you ever promote resources specifically for artists and/or writers?

We prepare weekly topical book displays but also maintain a blog covering international developments in the arts and social change arena.

Does your library function as an art gallery or performance space in any way? What kinds of works or performances have you featured? 

We don’t currently have an in-house gallery but we do display art in our space, as well as video art screenings.

Have you noticed artists using your library?  What types of services and/or resources do they generally use?

We get very heavy use by students from the arts school but also from students of conflict resolution, sociology, history, etc. People approach us with a project they need to realize so they want advice and resources about the nature of the content of their project.

Do you consider yourself an artist, either professionally or casually? Have you used your library or other libraries for your own creative work, and if so, how?

I consider myself an artist and the library is a work of conceptual art, like an oracle for learning.  In my own work I make a lot of photographs that incorporate images of books.

What kind of additional services to artists and writers would you like to see at your library?

I would like to create an installation space with sculptural furniture and other elements that would specifically facilitate dialogues, collaborations and archives.

What does the phrase “library as incubator” mean to you?

It’s a place with a naturally high degree of potentials, that is controlled in some basic way to insure access and comfort, but which encourages the formation of new ideas and approaches that use art in social change contexts.

For more information about the Provisions Library for Arts and Social Change at George Mason University, visit their website or contact Donald Russell, Executive Director, at

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