Libraries and the arts

Like many states, New Hampshire recently faced draconian arts funding cuts. Happily, as Connie Rosemont explained in the Concord Monitor, “The Arts Prevailed.” Last year when arts and literature programs lost funding in Wisconsin, a trio of library school students launched a website: the Library as Incubator Project. I read about this innovative idea in Poets & Writers, where you can view a slideshow of  “art, writing, performances and workshops that have taken place in or been inspired by libraries.”

The Library as Incubator Project connects libraries with the arts community. Finding inspiration and ideas and collaborating at the incubator benefits artists and libraries as well as the public they are both trying to reach. The site also links to resources helpful to artists and writers and offers professional development for librarians who want to “incubate the arts.”

When I mentioned the  Library As Incubator Project on an email list recently, a colleague replied with a link to Art-o-Mat, which re-purposes old cigarette vending machines into art dispensers. The machines are found in a variety of locations, including libraries.

Libraries often schedule performances, films, and readings as well. This week Regina Library here at Rivier College is hosting “An Evening of Favorite Poems.”  My nocturnal colleague Peter and I had fun creating a display of poetry books. I actually found too many books for our allotted display space and had to put the overflow on a table by the entrance.

So if you think libraries are just housing books, take another look. Chances are you’ll find the arts.

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The novelists of November

It’s Nov. 2, and I haven’t started writing a novel yet. During four previous Novembers I’ve been bent over my keyboard by now, trying to get off to a good start for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal? A completed 50,000 word novel by the 30th.

What then? It depends. My NaNoWriMo novels are sitting in computer files, unlikely to ever make it to a bookshelf. What’s the point, naysayers ask?  As Carolyn Kellogg wrote in the LA Times Jacket Copy blog last year, there are worse ways to spend free time than writing a novel.

Completing a large writing project in a month is an exercise in discipline. It helps form an important habit, one Jane Yolen says is the secret to her productivity: “Butt In Chair.” NaNoWriMo is also good for creativity; there isn’t time to succumb to your inner editor.  And there’s a sense of camaraderie as thousands of people around the world work towards the same deadline.

These days, writing fiction could take your mind off famine, recession, war, and politics. Or in the Northeast, power outages and October snow. As I heard Professor Ralph Williams say at a post-film discussion in Concord two weekends ago, beauty (or in the case of NaNoWriMo, attempts at beauty) can help us deal with evil.

Need more motivation? Some November novelists take their manuscripts to the next level.  Writing for Chapter & Verse, a blog at the Christian Science Monitor, Husna Haq points out that two recent best-sellers, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, began as NaNoWriMo drafts.

Intrigued? You have most of November left to join NaNoWriMo. If you have no idea where to begin, check out Galley Cat’s excellent daily tips for NaNoWriMo. Today’s tip is one I endorse: visit the reference desk.