The Parthenon of Books, Art vs Censorship

It has been over two weeks since Documenta 14 officially started in Kassel, Germany. The people visiting the city for this 14th edition will have a chance to see a temple, similar to the Parthenon of Athens except that this one is made out of books!

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Volunteers helping for the construction of the Parthenon of books. Credits John Macdougall – AFP

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The artist behind the Parthenon of books Marta Minujin, famous in the south-american pop-art scene, wanted her creation to be a symbol of resistance against all forms of censorship; which is why only books that have been censored or banned at anytime throughout History have been used for its construction. Students from the University of Kassel helped the artist by picking 170 different books out of 70 000 (You can find the lists here)and asked for people to donate copies of the said books. Moreover, the location of the temple has not been chosen randomly since it is being built at the exact same spot where the nazis burned books of Marxists and Jewish authors in 1933.

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The artist refused to use any book encouraging racial or religious hatred such as Mein Kampft or others. Credits John Macdougall – AFP

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The Parthenon of books required the crazy amount of 100 000 books for its construction and is identical in size to the original one in Athens. Each book is put into a plastic bag in order to protect it from the weather. At the end of the event, the staff will be giving away all the books to whomever wants one. 

– Update – If you want to know more about the books that were used for the Parthenon of books we invite you to visit Documenta 14’s website where you will find the list of banned books.

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Credits – DPA

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Back in the days, we had bookmobiles!

Many of you probably don’t remember that time before Amazon!  Before even the internet was a thing, people still managed to bring books home though. Most of them went to the local bookstore or to the library, but what about the country folks or the people living in the suburbs ? The ones who did not have this chance?

Well just like Pepperidge Farm, BlookUp remembers!  Bookmobiles, were the solution to those who lived too far  away from the city and thus did not (or hardly) have access to the riches and joy that brought books. We have to travel back to the late 1850’s in Warrington (England) to see what is believed to be the first bookmobile, a horse-drawn van full of books. Behind this idea was a philanthropist, called George Moore whose project was to spread the goods of literature to the small villages around the city.

An old bookmobile pulled by a horse
The Perambulating library of Harrington in 1859, believed to be the first of its kind.

Needless to say people spread the word and the concept continued growing to the point of reaching the United States. Ultimately horses were replaced by cars, more efficient, and allowing the librarian to carry more books. Bookmobiles eventually reached the peak of their popularity in the mid 20th century before slowly disappearing.

Picture of a bookmobile in the 20's
Photo of a bookmobile in the 1920’s. Credits – Numismatic Bibliomania Society

However there still are a few of them out there, their goal remained the same: diffusing good literature and educating those who need it the most. Many libraries like San Francisco Public Library or Toronto Public Library have bookmobiles driving around the city, who knows maybe one day you’ll see one of these mobile libraries too!

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The automated library of the University of Chicago!

Let us continue our little tour of the libraries around the world with something a little bit different from what we have been showing you so far.

We are crossing the Atlantic ocean, off to University of Chicago, Illinois!

The Joa and Rika Mansueto Library, to call it by it’s official name, is unlike any other library you have seen before! Why ? Because it is totally automated! The students of the University of Chicago do not have to walk around some aisles to look for a particular book or to ask the librarian whether the said book is available or not.

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Mansueto Library’s glass dome containing the Grand Reading Room

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How the automated librery works ?

Instead, the students can browse through the online catalogue of the Mansueto library to see if the book they are looking for is available, order it right away, and by the time they walk to the library the book will be waiting for them.

How is this possible you might ask? Well it all comes down to the library’s ingenious design.

The Mansueto library is like an Iceberg, you can merely see a third of it.

On the surface there are no aisles nor shelves. The whole space is dedicated to reading. Everything is happening beneath the surface.

The inside of the Grand Reading Room

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The library has a storage vault buried 20 meters deep into the ground, consisting in 24 000 bins!  Each of them containing up to 100 books. While most (if not all) libraries sort their books by subject or author. The Mansueto library sorts its books by size to optimize the space of their bins.

Every book is marked on the spine with a barcode that is scanned each time the book leaves or comes back to the library.

Meanwhile,  five mechanical cranes move alongside the racks to find and lift the bin containing the book that has been ordered by a student to the surface. The student is notified by email when the book has been scanned. Finally when it is ready to be picked up.

While many will salute the technical prouesse of building an automated library, others will mourn the loss of their good old wooden shelves as well as the feeling of walking and browsing through the aisles. What do you think about the Mansueto automated library? Is it the result of a genius mind’s work ?  Or is it too much of a change?

Source – Photos by Tom Rossiter

Bookroo: children books in a box !

kids-readingDo you have children, nephews, nieces or godchildren?  Do you still have trouble finding what kind of books to offer them?

Our kind always used reading as a communication tool between generations. And as such, we want to transmit values, memories. But we can sometimes be afraid to impose them or to invest too early, to shock, to not be understood.In short, it’s not so easy to choose!

Well, take a deep breath because BlookUp found the perfect solution to offer books all year round without fearing the lack of idea!

Discover Bookroo!

The Bookroo logo Bookroo consists in a 1, 3, 6 or 12-month subscription. During which you will receive at home (within all US territory and also Canada, for an additional $11 per month). 

Each month, a box filled with books chosen for you in accordance with the way you filled out the subscription form!

Customization options are limited to the kids’ age (from 0 to 2 and 2 to 6). The idea is really to send you (or to the kids you are offering the gift to) books “that you don’t already know and are not easy to be found online or in stores”. 

Examples of books available in the Bookroo box
Those books, for example, were the ones sent during the last few months!

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So it’s a whole surprise that is coming in a beautiful cardboard box, and within it, books separately and elegantly wrapped like presents!

Do you like the idea? Well, go to Bookroo now, choose your subscription time and spread culture, values and imagination all around you!

York’s olfactory guidebook!

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Humans’ sense of smell is often compared with that of other “more efficient” mammals such as cats, dogs or their wild counterparts, causing us to underestimate this very useful and powerful sense!

Not only do we sense things and can detect potentially dangerous foods or drinks!  But we also pair smells to images, sounds, memories and we are able to mentally project ourselves thanks to our perception of scents.

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the guidebook is freely available at the Tourist Office…

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In order to play with this great human capacity, the York’s Tourist Office, in England, had the idea of gathering the smells of the city in a unique book called “Smell York”, in which you just need to scratch the paper pages to discover the scents of the streets, from the one hosting an authentic bakery to the one where are.

The local ghosts are living!

“In terms of how we chose the smells”, explains a spokeperson of ‘Visit York’ to the Daly Mail, “each section of the guidebook refers to a month of the year, from January to December, so some scents were chosen based on seasonality while others were chosen simply for their iconic status, such as the heather on the North york Moors.”

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… But don’t expect to carry it everywhere you go!

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“We wanted to get across the wide variety of scents on offer in York, including some unexpected ones (like the smell of a ghost!) and showcase the city, its heritage and the surrounding countryside in a unique and quirky way.”

It is of course more interesting to smell the pages while being blindfolded in order to enjoy a recreational guessing game… Until one of the people you travel with makes you discover THE local fragrance. Clue ? York is a rural area where many horses live, and they provide something very useful for local agriculture…

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If you are more on the poetry side, you can smell tea and chocolate instead

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Here’s a good training that will sharpen your sense of smell and allow you to find your way all over the planet with only your nose’s help!

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Bookcrossing: Let your old books go and make them travel the world!

We all love our good old books, however, it comes a time when you don’t want to read them anymore, so you put them on your bookshelf and never touch them again, which is pretty sad. Luckily for you, we at BlookUp are going to tell you about a nice way of getting rid of your dusty pile of books!

The name is BookCrossing, it is website that allows you to let go of your old books and make them travel! The process is pretty simple: You first need to label the book you want to “set free” and register it on the website using the BookCrossingID written on the said label. Afterwards, all you have to do is leaving it somewhere you know it will be picked up, it could be at your local café, a table or a bench outside at a park….be creative! Once you get back home, saddened by the loss of your old book, you can keep an eye on it by entering the book’s BCID.

What a lovely BookCrossing house! Photo by Leisha Camden on Pinterest.

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If you don’t feel like releasing your book into the wild you can join on of the BookCrossing’s forums, tweet using #bookcrossing or directly  @BookCrossing to let the fellow bookcrossers know about your book!

The person who will pick up your book can type this code on the website and mark your book as officially “picked up”. Your book’s journey starts here! If one day you stumble upon a book that shouldn’t be here for any reason whatsoever, keep it mind that it is probably traveling the world just like your old book is so watch out for the BookCrossing labels!

 

Don’t forget to join the BookCrossing community:

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Book lovers, discover Dublin’s ancient Library!

Next on our Libraries world tour. Dublin!

If you are fond of old, beautiful books and picturesque places, the city has something you should absolutely see.  The Old Library of Trinity College!

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“Yeah, hi, I’d like to borrow them all, please.” 

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An ancient library

This outstanding and ancient library, the largest in Ireland, contains nearly 4.5 million books, with nearly 250,000 of them hosted only in its famous 65 metres-wide well-named Long Room.

This architectural Georgian work of art took the place, in the 18th century, of the original Elizabethan building that was founded with the rest of the College in 1592 on a former monastery’s site. Some extensions were built circa 1850 in order to accommodate more books!

trinity-college-long-room-dublin-ladderAnd the result was worth it!

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If the place can afford to contain so many books in its core, it is because it obtained in 1801 the right to acquire a free copy of each book published in Ireland and England.

The Long Room is decorated with 14 marble busts created by the sculptor Peter Scheemakers. It  represents  western thinkers like Isaac Newton and famous ancient philosophers such as Cicero, Aristotle and Plato. One can also find the busts of people related to the very history of Trinity College.

trinity-college-long-room-dublinView of the Long Room and its marble busts.

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AIn fact, among the many valuable works hosted in the Old Library, the most famous is the Book of Kells !  A magnificently ornamented manuscript containing the 4 Gospels of the New Testament, written by monks of Celtic culture nearly 1200 years ago.

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The Book of Kells, view of the opening text of the Gospel of Luke

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If you want to see more of it, the whole scanned document is available online for free on the College’s website ! So take a look at it  here!

This place filled with stories and history also contains one of the rare copies of the 1916’s official Declaration of the Republic of Ireland, as well as the impressive Brian Boru’s Harp, the model for Ireland’s official symbol, dated around the 15th century and made of oak, willow and brass ropes.

So don’t forget! Next time you go to Dublin, seek the library first and keep the bars for later!

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Source Article | Images credits: David Iliff & Nic McPhee on Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Giant Flipbooks in the woods of New Hampshire

If you venture in the woods outside the city of Strafford, New Hampshire, you most likely will stumble upon several giant Flipbooks. You probably owned a similar (but smaller) version of those as a child.

For those who are not familiar with Flipbooks, the idea is simple. They are books filled with drawings that, as you flip through the pages, create an animation and tell you a short story.

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Mobile Studio, an architecture firm based in London. They  applied this concept on a much larger scale with the help of children from the local summer camp called Beam Camp. The result is astonishing !  Giant boxes filled with drawings that you can flip through with a crank!

But we are not done yet,  the boxes containing the drawings were built in such a way that the boxes will reflect their surroundings (here the woods) during the day using a special film on the panels, and let the mechanism visible at night thanks to in-built LEDs.

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Due to the Flipbooks’ close link with nature, the young campers decided to draw each flap so that it will create animations of bird behavior when one would crank through the book’s pages. “These are the world’s largest mechanical flipbooks ever made as stated by Mobile studio’s director Chee-Kit lai.

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Source Photos credits: Emily Wilson

                                                     An article by BlookUp 

Tip : A secret door inside a bookshelf!

Good day to you fellow blookers!

I don’t know about you but when I was a kid, I always wanted to be like Batman and have a secret door with a secret room room behind a bookcase, just for the sake of it. So when I heard that there actually was a company that was making it a reality I knew I had to share it with you guys.

At first look, you wouldn’t think that there actually is a hidden room behind that bookcase; secret passages are only a thing in movies, video games and novels after all, right?  Ha, joke’s on you! Because this bookcase actually folds in the middle thus revealing the hidden room,  safe, wine cellar, or anything you’d rather not have everyone see.

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If you don’t like the vanilla look of the door, you can choose among different sizes, color and woods then pick the one that fits best. You can also choose to add a lock so the door won’t open! Turning it into a regular bookshelf and blocking the access to the room behind it…

If you are brave enough however, you can try to build your own secret door like this man. It will certainly take time and A LOT of efforts but at last you can be proud of yourself and ultimately spend the rest of your time hidden inside your secret lair pretending you’re Bruce Wayne in the Batcave (Which is totally not what I would to if I had one at home…).

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Sources here and here Photos credits: Woodfold

Dogs and Humans finding trust and confidence by reading

We already know that reading for ourselves has several beneficial effects. Escaping to other universes brings us solace, discovering other cultures opens our mind, we can learn, imagine, travel, ease our mind.

 But we don’t often read to others and communicate those feelings. Thus making reading a solitary hobby and, above all, a very “human” hobby.

But can reading be used to both build confidence in children and help abandonned dogs to trust humans again?

This strange-sounding question is what started the Shelter Buddies Reading Program, created by the Humane Society of Missouri.

Helping Dogs Relax !

The idea is to ask children and young people (between 6 and 15 years-old) to volunteer at the shelter in order to practice their reading and public speaking skills by reading one (or more!) book(s) to lonely dogs waiting in their kennel.

They freely decide which book(s) to read and the dog they want to read it to, they sit in front of him or her and initiate the first contact.

Girl sitting on the floor reading to a dog

Jo Ellyn Klepacki, assistant director of the Missouri Humane Society explains that the goal of the program is to get the dogs to move from the back of the kennel to the front, as dogs staying near the front of their kennel get adopted more quickly than the others. Knowing this, it’s easy to understand how slowly adjusting them to the presence of kind humans can help them trust people again and find a new loving home faster.

Boy sitting on the floor reading to a dog

“We started this for two reasons”, Klepacki adds, “Dogs in a shelter environment exhibit a lot of signs of anxiety and show stress signals, so we wanted to do something to comfort them. We have a lot of children in our area who are really engaged and they ask, ‘How can I help?’” 

Children sitting in front of dog kennels reading to them

The program benefits both dogs and the young volunteers, who are able to practice their aloud-reading skills in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. Thus also helping to tame their fear of audiences. The shelter encourages them to generally interact with the dogs as well, by talking to them and by passing them treats if they make their way to the front of the glass.

The program is a success, and you can still become a Reading Buddy now if you want to help!

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Source – Photos credits: Humane Society of Missouri, abcnews and twistedsifter