The People’s Library – A Published Event
Several months ago a friend told me about an unusual event unfolding in Hobart. The Arts Centre, along with artists, Justy Phillips and Margaret Woodward were attempting something that had never happened before in this country, perhaps the world. They were going to publish and launch over 100 books at one time and exhibit them as an art display. They were looking for authors. The criteria was they had to live in Tasmania, it could be any genre and they did not have to be already published authors.
I was writing and had been trying to finish a book, for a long time. It was a story, my story, about domestic sexual and violent abuse. I submitted a chapter to Justy and Margaret and it was accepted. I now needed to force myself to finish the story. I did. It was submitted and was on its way.
There were 150 authors in total, with 113 books published and launched on September 8 in the Long Gallery at the Arts Centre, Salamanca Place, Hobart. They are published as Limited Editions with a small amount of books for each author. The launch went well and the books, along with many readings, talks and artistic events relating to the books, began.
The first Book Fair was held in the Gallery alongside the books. Over sixty university students visited and were set tasks from reading parts of the books. Many visitors including, tourists, locals and dignitaries, came and went daily. The books were colour coded, according to the order of submission. This has worked wonderfully, if you looked at the genres. The colours suited the individual stories.
Perhaps the most unusual of performances was the Unconscious Collective, where a couple spent the day in bed, reading the featured books, while a harpist played in the background. It was different, it was John Lennon, it was art.
Through all of this, Justy and Margaret worked tirelessly on a project that people said would not work. It took almost two years, but it happened. It has been a remarkable event, showing that writing is unmistakably part of the many genres of art.
The People’s Library will close it doors on Sunday, having run for the month of September. Some authors, including myself, have been encouraged to seek commercial publishing, having what Justy and Margaret have called, ‘powerful stories to tell’. With six days left, there have been around 3000 visitors to The People’s Library. The State Library in Tasmania have acquired complete sets of the 113 books to be for public reading in selected libraries. This Published Event has been exciting, unusual, amazing and a credit to the authors and organisers. It has been a showcase for writers and for Tasmania. I am proud to have been part of such an event.