The Library as Incubator Project

A collection of art, writing, performances, and workshops that have taken place in or been inspired by libraries, as featured in the Library as Incubator Project, a website that connects writers, artists, and libraries from all over the world.

Madison, Wisconsin artist Jayne Reid Jackson’s “Art History,” an altered book piece, was created as part of an exhibit called “Cover to Cover,” in which artists use books as materials and inspiration in their pieces. The exhibit was featured in Madison-area public libraries.

Artist and illustrator Karen Jacobsen spent fifteen years collaborating with the first and only female deep-sea submersible pilot, Dr. Cindy Lee Van Dover, documenting, sketching, diagramming, and painting the sea life she found underwater. The exhibit, "Beyond the Edge of the Sea," which documents their many expeditions together, is currently on display at the Ebling Medical Sciences library at the University of Wisconsin.

“Cutting Apples,” a poem by retired neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Salcman, of Baltimore, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Salcman, who says libraries have provided an inspiring environment for his creative work all his life, often gives readings of his work in libraries.

Peter Golub and Philip Littell perform "Dark Carols, A Christmas Cycle" at the world premiere at the Los Angeles Central Library.

Painter and librarian Trent Miller of Madison, Wisconsin, runs the gallery space at the Central Madison Public Library. Miller’s art, including "Dredgers and Drifters," seen here, has always been informed and inspired by libraries. “There are many great resources on the Internet,” he says, “but for me books are still the way to go.”

Brazilian rock band CSS makes some noise in the Lancaster Library in Lancaster, UK, as part of the “Get it Loud in Libraries” series.

Handmade Crafternoon workshops are offered monthly at the New York Public Library. They feature a special guest artist, supply crafting materials, and offer books and magazines from the library’s collection to help inspire participants to create everything from finger puppets and fabric stamps to zines and letterpress books.

Irish artist Katie Holten, now of New York City, used 756 books from the Salina Public Library in Salina, Kansas, to create her installation, “Streams of Consciousness.”

Joan Zieger, a visual artist from Madison, Wisconsin, uses various fabrics to create her 3’ x 6’ quilts, part of a series she calls “Ladies of a Certain Mileage.” The quilts are currently on display at the Sequoya branch of the Madison Public Library.

Visual artist Jerry Gant hosts a stencil workshop at the Newark Public Library.

“Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em,” a youth breakdancing competition, is held at the Heberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisconsin.

The Lisbon Heritage Hall is a performance space located on the second floor of the public library in Lisbon, Iowa. With the help of the community and the library’s director, Amy White, the historic space has recently been restored and regularly hosts artists, writers, musicians, and performers.

Poet and fiction writer Corey Mesler of Memphis, Tennessee, is the author of "Chthonic Library." The owner of an antiquarian bookstore, Mesler says of libraries and books in general: "I must stay alive; there are books to read."

“Page to Stage” is a library-incubated theater project, which theater artist Brandon Monokian facilitates for teens at the Princeton Public Library in Princeton, New Jersey.

Madison poet Rita Mae Reese says most, if not all, of her work has been supported by libraries. “Flannery O'Connor's Peacocks Go to Heaven After She Dies” is part of a collection inspired by Flannery O’Connor.

Poet Nancy Reddy says a library is a little like an office; she writes much of her poetry from a small carrel at the Memorial Library on the University of Wisconsin campus. Here is an excerpt from one of her poems, entitled "Taxonomy."

Madison-area musicians play the Monona Public Library as part of “The Journey Within,” an exhibition focused on community artists whose lives have been affected by cancer.

As part of the “Cover to Cover” series, Madison artist Tom Linfield created “Banned Book Reliquary,” which features jars of ashes from banned books that Linfield burned himself. The project was shown in various Madison public libraries.