Artists talking - Mathew Herring

Mathew wrote about his Library of Lost Books book in 2012...

"I am taking a part in a project called The Library of Lost Books. The Library of Lost Books is a collection of old books withdrawn from Birmingham Public Library, which are being sent to 40 UK artists to be transformed into works of art, to be exhibited as part of the opening festival for the new Birmingham Library in September 2013.


 I have just received my book and, as requested, here are my first reactions. I was sent a book called The Use of Books, by Mary Gillespie. It came nicely wrapped in brown paper with string, inside an envelope padded with recycled paper pulp. (I approve of recycled pulp envelopes, even if they always split, smell funny and are very dusty when they split. I have added this one to my compost heap to continue its recycling).


Probably I was sent a book about books because I work in a library. It is a small primer to teach children about how to use libraries and books. It covers such topics as how to use a card index; how to browse bookshelves; Dewey Decimal classification; how to use encyclopaedias, dictionaries, atlases and gazetteers; and how to select books of the appropriate reading level. My colleagues at the University of York Library teach some of these skills to students.

My first reaction, as a cataloguer, is to create an AACR2 catalogue record for it.

Gillespie, Mary – The use of books / Mary Gillespie. – London : Thomas Nelson and Son, [1947]. – The modern school series ; no. 11 – v, 88 p. : illus. ; 19 cm.


I looked it up on Copac and there are a number of copies of this knocking about academic libraries, including at the British Library, Oxford University Library, Cardiff University Library, Leeds University Library and the National Libraries of Wales and Scotland. Copac has the following Library of Congress Subject Headings for this book: Public services (Libraries), Reference books, Libraries and readers, Books, Schools.


My copy has the shelfmark D 028.7. ’028.7' is Dewey for something to do with books and I don’t know what ‘D’ means. It has an issue slip on the front paste-down, indicating that the book was added to Birmingham Public Libraries in 1948 and issued once, on 19th June 1949. It also has markings of Birmingham Reference Library, a ‘discarded’ stamp and some sort of accession slip in on the back free end-paper."

Artists' books by Matthew Herring

Matthew's response to the discarded book we sent him can be seen at
The Library of Lost Books exhibition, Library of Birmingham 6 - 23 November.
 Entrance Free. Exhibition opens from 10am daily (11am Sundays)

(photo credits Matthew Herring, David Knight)

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