Working with Found Books

The Reanimation Library is a collection of de-accessioned and discarded books, primarily selected for their visual content. The library is a resource for artistic production, a source of material to be harvested and manipulated into new content. The library travels and hosts branches in other cities. Additionally there is a regular feature called Word Processor, which features written products from the library. Portions of the collection are available online.


Reversing Vandalism

From the San Francisco Public Library’s website.

In early 2001, San Francisco Public Library staff began finding books hidden under shelving units throughout the Main Library. The books had been carved with a sharp instrument: covers and inner pages were slashed and odd almond-shaped pieces were cut out. As the mutilated books began accumulating, staff recognized that most of the volumes were related to issues of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered individuals, HIV/AIDS and women’s health issues. Staff members united to help find and inventory the over 600 damaged books, as well as to observe the stacks waiting for someone to shove damaged books under a shelf.

Eventually the vandal was caught by a librarian, on her day off, who alerted Library Security. The perpetrator was arrested, charged and found guilty of a hate crime. When the reports of the crime hit the newspapers, an outpouring of support as well as offers to help replace the volumes came from sympathizers across the country.

After the damaged books were returned by the San Francisco Police Department, most of them were determined to be beyond repair and would be withdrawn from the collection. The volumes were digitally documented, but it was felt that discarding the books would only complete the vandal’s crime.

Jim Van Buskirk, Program Manager for the Hormel Center, in conversation with local visual artists and Library staff initiated the process leading to the Reversing Vandalism project. A public call for participation was circulated offering the destroyed books to artists, community members and interested individuals. Response to the project was immediate and intense. People quickly understood that this vandalism was not solely about gay and lesbian issues or even about books, but represented a social climate increasingly filled with fear and hate. Participants from more than twenty states, as well as Japan and France, contributed work in a wide range of media: works on paper, sculpture, assemblage, textiles, paintings, photography, even a working clock.

This pdf has images from the exhibition

Cutting with Intention.


Author Jonathan Safron Foer used an existing novel to literally carve out another story. {visit the link and check out the video showing clips of the book production}

Drawing as Erasure


Brian Chippendale’s Maggots is a comic drawn over a Japanese book catalog. The drawings are dense, and the residual finely printed Japanese characters come through as additional tone and noise.