Human rights, green space, technology, transportation—if people need a book on one of those topics, they can head to their local public library. But what if the design of the library itself inspired reflection on cultural and social issues? And what if the books came to people instead of the other way around?
That’s what’s been happening in Indianapolis over the past month and a half thanks to The Public Collection, a project that’s installing small structures that contain free books in homeless shelters, farmers markets, and other locations around the city.
“I admire the basic book share/lending library concept and, with my background in fine art, the creative element behind the actual structures intrigued me. The project merges my passions for art, education, and social justice,” the creator of the effort, activist and artist Rachel Simon, wrote in an email to TakePart.
The Public Collection is inspired by the Little Free Library movement, which since 2009 has encouraged people to set up book-sharing stations in their neighborhoods. Over the years, creatively minded folks across the country have installed Little Free Libraries that resemble everything from a cat to a rocket ship—so it’s a natural fit for The Public Collection to tap the talents of local artists in Indianapolis.
The diverse locations for the installations were chosen in order to “reach as many people across as many demographics as possible,” Simon wrote. Visitors to The Public Collection’s installations have picked up more than 6,700 books, which are supplied by the Indianapolis Public Library. “It's actually been a challenge to keep the largest installation on Monument Circle stocked,” wrote Simon.
“I’m mostly inspired by how the public has embraced this project. I think this speaks to how much the community values books and art, and appreciates the accessibility,” she added.
Click through to see the installations, and learn more about what inspired the participating artists.