Friday, November 6, 2009
A lot has happened since our last blog post! After 8 weeks (including 2 rainouts), we opened for the last time at the corner of Myrtle and Clinton Avenues on October 25. Filmmaker Astra Taylor and friends hosted a meeting of the Club of Odd Volumes--people gathered to give dramatic readings from strange and obscure texts.
One of our newest members, Z, who runs a catering business, stopped by with hors d'oeuvres. So we had a party.
In our last few weeks at the parking lot, we reached a critical mass with the number of books and the arrangement of the shelves. Earlier, we'd spent a lot of time calling out to passersby (along the lines of "Hey, we're a library!"); but by mid-October we hardly had to do anything at all. People stopped, browsed, and came over to ask "What is this?" We'd see it at least a dozen times a week: someone would stumble across this unexpected use of public space and participate-- sign up for a card, grab a book, and go.
Last week, we got word that an indoor space we'd had our eye on was available. From now until January, we'll be at the storefronts at 395 Flatbush Avenue Extension on the corner of Flatbush and Dekalb. (It's above the Dekalb Avenue subway and next to the Applebee's.)
To celebrate the move to our new home, we held a small parade. (Boombox + mic and amp + vintage guitar + Branch volunteers and members = parade!) We hit all the laundromats and supermarkets on the way to Flatbush and Dekalb, and passed by Ingersoll and Whitman Houses.
More photos of the parade and the new space to come next week. In the meantime, stop by any Sunday from 1-5pm!
Friday, October 9, 2009
It's official--we're a lending library. Hundreds of books came in this past week, mostly from folks in the neighborhood. It felt like another opening day for us.
We've now got three solid sections: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children's. To display our collection, we ended up buying about 25 discounted milk crates from a guy in Poughkeepsie--they're structurally pretty strong, stack well, and at the end of the day the books go into storage in their "shelves."
We stamped each book with the Branch logo. (That's an illustration of George Orwell--not stamped, the actual original illustration--on the inside of 1984, which was one of the first books borrowed.) Everyone who has a free library card can check out up to two books at a time; the books are due the following Sunday.
We also started a new activity called Memory Card. We asked each person who stopped by to fill out a blue index card with a memory of the neighborhood--it could be anything they remember, or a story of something that happened to them. We then placed a copy of the card in a due-date pouch in the back of the book, along with a simple description of the project. It's hard to read in the blurry photo, but it reads: "Most Branch books come from people who live nearby. Memory Card lets your neighbors to exchange their own local stories with you."
That's the main idea: our books are coming from people all over Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, who've sent them out into the neighborhood to be picked up by whoever borrows them. Memory Card allows people's own stories to circulate anonymously.
One other highlight. We contacted Regis Pean of the local architecture firm omni/form. He'd submitted a great entry for Architecture for Humanity's Call for Ideas for Branch. (We blogged about it a few weeks ago.) Regis and his partner wanted to test their ideas for using recycled cardboard to build a hybrid shelving/table/support system for a canopy. They found a bunch of discarded boxes off the street, and within the course of the afternoon produced this:
We plan to use it for the first time this Sunday.
Lots of new program events coming up: kids storytime, author readings, a Closing Party. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
A few weeks ago, Architecture for Humanity New York (AFHNY) posted a Call For Ideas for Branch: how should we design a temporary, low-cost installation that would provide shelter for the library, and house shelving, tables, chairs, and space for program such as readings or performances. We got a bunch of great proposals; the three shown here demonstrated ways to use common, everyday, or local materials to create a new kind of space. Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Earlier this week, we put out a call for book donations--at our fundraiser (photos to come) and to our 250 members. People responded: we got three big boxes of books at the fundraiser, and yesterday at Branch, dozens of people from the neighborhood stopped by with bags and bags of books. One woman came by twice to donate books. Another group of families put two books on hold, a new service we hadn't even thought of until that moment.
That's been one of the fun things about the project. Everyone is improvising and getting by without a lot of resources or a set plan, but making good decisions on the fly. Seems like a fitting way to operate during a recession.
We're busy cataloging our new books this week. Sunday we'll stamp each one with the Branch logo and hopefully we'll be able to start lending books out. In the meantime, if anyone knows where we can get a lot of milk crates donated, please e-mail us! email@example.com
Monday, September 14, 2009
Another busy Sunday: more than 250 people now have signed up as Branch members and received their library cards. One woman who stopped to talk asked us what the project is all about; when we said transforming unused public space, she said "We were doing that in the 1970s!" Branch is still a work-in-progress, but we're happy to be thought of as part of that long lineage of public space projects.
More updates tomorrow...
Friday, September 11, 2009
Our fundraiser is next Wednesday, Sept. 16 from 7-10pm at Melville House, a book publisher in DUMBO. (Flier courtesy of our awesome graphic design partner Rumors.) Whatever we raise from the fundraiser is our budget for the rest of the project. Come on out--we've got great raffle prizes (Tickets to BAM! Tickets to 6 Flags!! $100 gift certificates for dinner!!!), lots of booze, and a very cool space, all for only $5 cover. Perfect place to donate books, too. (See our Branch 100 Books wishlist below.) Hope to see you there.
We're building our book collection so that we can open the lending portion of the library by Sept 27. Our members specifically recommended the 100 books and authors below because they thought other people in the neighborhood would like them. (The first 4 titles/authors got multiple votes.) If you would like to donate any of these titles, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
- Thomas the Train (2)
- Harry Potter books (2)
- The Alchemist, Paolo Coelho (2)
- Judy Blume books (2)
- International policy books
- Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
- Snow, Orhan Pamuk
- The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
- Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
- Go Dog Go!
- Books about: robots, treehouses, Cob building, minerals
- Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
- Time and Again, Jack Finney
- Curious George books
- Los Tres Cerditos
- 1984, George Orwell
- Girl with a Pearl Earring
- Dreams of My Father, Barack Obama
- Horton Hears a Who, Dr. Seuss
- kids books about science—planets, seeds, castles, cooking
- Jitterbug Perfume, ss
- Introduction to Human Services (textbook)
- Bloody Jack, L.A Meyers
- The Seer & the Sword, Victoria Hanley
- Eoin Colfer books
- Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
- The Life of Pi, Yann Martel
- Graphic novels: Drawn & Quarterly; Watchmen; Spiderman
- Roald Dahl books
- Sophie’s Choice, William Styron
- The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren
- Phineas & Ferb
- Spongebob books
- Walter Mosley books
- Foxfire, Joyce Carol Oates
- Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, Fannie Flagg
- The Chosen, Chaim Potok
- The Emigrants, W.G. Sebald
- Michael Moore books
- Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Jeff Chang
- Jacqueline Woodson books
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
- Whistle for Willy, Ezra Jack Keats
- Jack London books
- Jack Kerouac books
- Grapefruit, Yoko Ono
- Exploring the World of Lucid Dreams, xx
- The Coldest Winter Ever, Sister Souljah
- Romance novels
- Victoria Holt books
- Baby Beluga
- Artemis Fowl series
- Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
- Chuck Klosterman books
- James Baldwin books
- Wole Soyinka books
- Ann Rand books
- Ralph Ellison books
- Monica Ali books
- design magazines
- Kam Khao children’s book
- Douglas Adams books
- Tom Clancy books
- Haruki Murakami books
- To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
- A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
- A Short History of Women
- Stones from the River, Ursula Hegi
- Forged by Fire, Sharon Draper
- Tears by a Tiger
- Judy Blume books
- David Sedaris books
- The Gunslinger, Stephen King
- Sandra Boynton books
- magazines (New Yorker, Brain, Child)
- I’m Down
- Simple Justice
- The Prophet, Paulo Coelho
- Board Books
- Edwidge Danticat books
- The Known World, Edward P. Jones [DONATED--thank you!]
- Bridget Jones’s Diary
- Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
- The Little Mermaid
- Little Red Riding Hood
- Native Son, Richard Wright
- The Magic Tree House
- The Diary of Anne Frank
- Redemption, Emma Farry
- Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
- Nostalgia, Mircea Cartarescu
- Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff
- International Publics
- Arjun Appadurai books
- Howard Zinn books
- Damien, Herman Hesse