Martha Rosler’s Traveling Library


Martha Rosler’s library has landed at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA), “a newly created institute dedicated to the history of art” in Paris

Writing on the traveling library in the spring 2007 issue of Afterall Elena Filipovic says:

[Rosler] temporarily dispossessed herself of the vast majority of her personal library so that it could be made available for consultation. No borrowing was possible, but the eclectic ensemble of books on economics, political theory, war, colonialism, poetry, feminism, science fiction, art history, mystery novels, children’s books, dictionaries, maps and travel books, as well as photo albums, posters, postcards and newspaper clippings could be studied at will. Smart, decidedly political in orientation, often funny, and all over the place (in that way a perfect mirror of its owner), the library is packed with essential reading and titles that even your better bookstores would love to get their hands on.

The Library was first opened to the public by e-flux in November 2005 as a storefront reading room on Ludlow street in New York City. It has since traveled to Frankfurter Kunstverein, MuHKA, Antwerp and unitednationsplaza, Berlin. The library will be on exhibit INHA through January 20th, 2008.

There are over 7600 books in the Martha Rosler Library. The entire contents of which is in the process of being cataloged as an E-Flux project and will be available to be viewed by title, author, or original location on Rosler’s shelves.

Though conceptually it sounds like a good idea and one can imagine what great stuff Rosler has on her shelves but the carbon footprint of sending over 7,500 books around the world seems to me too great to make an exhibit like this worthwhile. Yes, one would miss the physical experience of seeing and being with the books if your only access is via the online E-flux project but the energy necessary to move this library around the world simply outweighs its benefits.

Oh and here is where the INHA is housed-

“Pending its move into its final home, Labrouste Hall, the INHA Library is sharing its public space with the Richelieu Reference Hall, called the Oval Room, intended for readers attending the specialised departments of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.”

Wow!

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