The Written Image: Quarantine Public Library

From the November/December 2020 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

What’s a booklover to do when to do when a pandemic shuts down their library? Create their own! Artists Katie Garth and Tracy Honn have made it possible with Quarantine Public Library, a growing collection of artists’ books created by illustrators and writers across the United States—all available for free and ready to be assembled with the use of an ordinary home printer. “QPL started from the spark of an idea I’d had for an online exhibit of downloadable books using this one-sheet, eight-page format,” says Honn. “Katie blew life into it by recognizing how potent it could be in this awful time of pandemic.”

Laurie Moorhead created a custom slipcase for her complete set of titles. (Credit: Laurie Moorhead, @lauriemoorhead)

The library’s curated collection of more than forty visually stunning books include narrative mini-comics, meditations on proximity and quarantine, even a humorous illustrated “journey of love for frozen treats” starring a Technicolor batch of popsicles and ice cream confections. Some titles touch on the pandemic explicitly; others offer escape. “Readers have printed full collections and created their own housing for the library, have been inspired to make their own books, have added color to the linework in contributors’ printed works, and have shared videos of themselves creating and reading books in the collection,” says Garth. One such reader, artist Laurie Moorhead, created a custom slipcase for her complete set of the titles, shown above. Honn says, “In a sense, every person who comes to the site and interacts with the books is collaborating with us.” The library will continue to add titles through at least the end of the year.