Libraries, a Love Story

In the Mitchell Library

“Imagine your shadow burning off the page / As the dear world and the dead word disengage” – Don Paterson, ‘The White Lie’.

In the midst of autumn the many lovely libraries of Glasgow are even more tempting than usual… and there’s something especially secret and special about the libraries that have maintained that dim, dusty 1960s look about them. All badly varnished chocolatey-wood decor, old brown and orange thread-bare chairs, private desks in dark corners and faded mosaic-like carpets. The upstairs of the Mitchell Library is a particular favourite of mine. There’s something a little bit wonderful about the tomb-like sobriety and hush housing all these books and words, because as everyone knows, books are full of racy things, and will turn your head if you read too many of them.

Oh, be still my heart.

The Mitchell right now is home to an exhibition of the Edinburgh Book Sculptures, which is an amazing story in itself, of a series of delicate sculptures crafted out of books and left anonymously in venues during the Edinburgh Book Festival last year (a much better description of it all here). The artist has put some beautiful quotes from Edwin Morgan, Norman MacCaig, Patrick Geddes and a few other Scottish voices in amongst these fragile little creations, along with a tag on each one that states the intention to create something ‘in support of books, libraries, words, ideas’. They are truly brilliant. These photos really don’t do them justice… you’ll just have to go along and see them somewhere on their tour of Scotland:

Constructed from James Hogg’s gothic thriller ‘The Private Memories and Confessions of a Justified Sinner’ (1824)
View from behind…
‘Gloves of bees fur, cap of wren’s wings’ – Norman MacCaig. Left at the Scottish Poetry Library. This feather is made of out the pages of a book – just brilliant.

2 thoughts on “Libraries, a Love Story

  1. I had a look through your links at the website showing all these sculptures and telling the story. Gave me a bit of a shiver in the spine! they are so beautiful. I wonder if the anonymous sculptor will ever be found!

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