Leave Your Mark: The Visual Libraries Project, an International Collaborative Project Examining the Use of Sketchbooks in Public Libraries

By Maureen O’Neill.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This project aims to explore how sketchbooks can empower people to re-discover their creative potential and examine ways to collaborate with library groups covering a variety of backgrounds and minority groups. The presentation will describe the establishment of The Visual Libraries Project and its vision for the future through expansion. It will conclude with recommendations for other libraries interested in collaboration.

Sketchbooks offer potential as a medium of expression for all, by means of drawing, note-taking, creative writing and collecting. Children do not question that they can be creative, but as we grow older, our confidence in expressing ourselves through writing texts or making objects and images recedes. This project promotes a creative way for individuals to express ideas, communicate concepts, provide a space and opportunity to question, reflect and express their individual voice.

Historically, libraries have not been places where people were encouraged to write or draw in books. Funding was provided to facilitate workshops and international links with Portsmouth City Library, British Council Library in Chennai, India, Forsyth County Public Library and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Work created for the project is celebrated in a range of ways, including lectures, exhibitions, online publishing and the creation of a documentary film with the aid of a BBC cameraman.

The project is building on the clearly successful initial stage to demonstrate that it can work positively and creatively with a range of groups, including children, young adults, people with physical and learning disabilities and the housebound From a library perspective, an aspiration for the future is that the project promotes the use of libraries among individuals who wouldn’t see themselves as traditional library users, and encourages users of libraries to be more pro-active.

Keywords: Sketchbooks, Libraries, Communication, Collaboration

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.81-94. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.328MB).

Dr. Maureen O’Neill

Senior lecturer, Illustration Department, Art, Design and Media, Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK

As an artist/designer and educator with a strong record of collaborative work through international networks Maureen O’Neill is involved in research into image centered learning, exploration of new opportunities in teaching and the promotion of the image through the Internet. She completed a practice based PhD, titled ‘The Mystery of Mapness: The Void Between Mind And Map’ in 2007. Her research interests are the computer as a tool, medium for communication and acquisition of knowledge and the collection and production of Artists’ Books. Combining both of these passions has lead to research initiatives titled ‘The Ministry of Books” and “Leave Your Mark: The Visual Libraries Project.


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