The Walking Library

a 1930s style walking library in London, from the VSW Soibelman Syndicate News Agency Archive

Updates…8 Nov 2013: hear Dee’s contribution to Talking Walking’s 5 year walking forecast series…24 Feb 2015: vid with Dee from My Bookcase, also Stories from the Walking Library, seminar in Embra on 20 Feb, and an article in Cultural Geographies (open access).

How ace is this? A Talking Walking podcast on The Walking Library, a ‘performance piece’ conceived by Deirdre Heddon and Misha Myers for the Sideways Walking and Art Festival in 2012. With the help of a troupe of volunteer walking librarians a library of more than 90 books that people suggested were “good to take for a walk” was walked 375 km across Belgium. Along the way locals donated books to the project, and at the end of the festival the library was donated to the festival organisers.

In her research of the histories and discourses of walking Dee kept encountering
descriptions of books and journals that were carried by walkers, as a kind of travelling
companion. This prompted the idea of The Walking Library (sadly no sign of the catalogue, but some listed here, plus see the photo on Facebook and 34 page PDF):

The Walking Library carries a curated library of books and facilitates a peripatetic reading group as it journeys, allowing engagement with and reflection on the library’s content, and some sketching with words or images.

The Walking Library is being continued by Alec Finlay’s Bothy Project on Eigg (see the book list at the end of the post). Update: for further details see Bothan Shuibhne 2013 and The Walking Library for Sweeney’s Bothy.

Another wheeze from Dee – she celebrated her 40th birthday by undertaking 40 walks with family, friends and colleagues – see the 40 Walks Blog, and not least the Paris Arcades walk and an article: ‘Turning 40: 40 turns: Walking & friendship’, Performance Research 2012, 17 (2) pp67-75, eprint).

2013 Walking Library projects:

  • Tree Walk – Glasgow, 27 November, during National Tree Week
  • Bedrock Walk – from Dalwhinnie to Glen Nevis, 15-21 July, as part of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s Stories in the Land project
  • PSi 19 Night Walk – Palo Alto/Stanford, 28 June; from dusk to dawn to visit the sleeping libraries of Palo Alto and Stanford University as part of the Performance Studies International Conference
  • From Ohio to Scotland and back again
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