Documenting the Detritus Project is a new guest blog series written by a dear friend of the Library as Incubator Project, Melissa Kolstad. Melissa is a collagist/ephemeralist who works in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She is a member of the Fond du Lac Visual Arts collective, which has a close partnership with the Fond du Lac Public Library. The Detritus Project is a new project that Mel is working on, which seeks to document and examine what people leave – parts of their everyday lives and activities – when they return library books. Mel will document her progress on the Detritus Project twice a month until June.

by Melissa Kolstad

In the six weeks that I have been following the Library as Incubator Project, I have been inspired countless times by the many ways that our libraries enrich our lives.  When one is inspired, creativity usually follows.

And so began an idea that came to me when I was perusing my own checked-out library books and noticed the due date slip:  I wonder what other things people leave behind when the books are returned?

Instead of just musing on the subject, I sprang to action and e-mailed Terri Fleming, the Community Information Coordinator for our Fond du Lac Public Library(s).  I got to know Terri through Fond du Lac Visual Arts’ involvement with the Langdon Divers gallery inside the library’s main branch (which we curate).  I asked her if the librarians would be willing to participate in a little “experiment”, whereby they would collect everything that was found in returned and donated books.  Within a day I had my answer – Circulation Coordinator Lori Burgess and the librarians were all for it!  And with that, the Detritus Project was born!

And hoo boy, were the librarians ever thorough!  Look at what was collected in books in only one week’s time:

Detritus Project 1
And while the wonderful support staff at the FDLPL may find this idea more than a bit odd, I reaped the rewards of their diligence.  🙂 PAYDIRT!!  Here are some of the varied and cool items that were found:

I’ve got more than enough stuff – now, what do I DO with it?  That’s for the next post.  Stay tuned!

You can also read Melissa Kolstad’s previous contributions to the Library as Incubator Project:

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