Every day, approximately 2,000 items are returned to the Lawrence Public Library. Many items — notes, drawings, postcards, photographs and much more — are left between books’ pages.
Library staff members have collected some of those items over the years, and they recently synthesized these traces of individual community members to create 11 collages illustrating and encapsulating the people who check out books in Lawrence, Kansas.
Angela Longhurst and Traci Bunkers, members of the LPL Art Team, shared how the exhibit came to be.
The collages were initially created to fill the empty walls after an artist canceled their April show.
Before the reconstruction of the library began about 10 years ago, “there was a small display that I helped maintain of staff personal collections and periodically, I filled it with items that have been found in materials that have been returned,” Longhurst said via email.
More recently, for the past four years or so, Bunkers has been collecting these items.
“I’ve been saving them because I wanted to do some sort of project with them at some point but wasn’t sure what,” she said, crediting Longhurst with the idea to turn them into collages for this show.
Heather Kearns, marketing and patron experience supervisor, had the empty frames; Bunkers had the large collection of items; “and I handle the schedule of exhibits, so it was kismet that it all came together,” Longhurst said.
“I had saved 2 paper grocery bags of items and was sorting them into themes as Angela put a lot of the collages together,” Bunkers said.
Longhurst completed eight collages; two of their coworkers in the Materials Handling department, Kate Delaney and Teagan Heinerikson, each put one together; and Bunkers completed one.
“Also, since we’ve had such a good response to the show, I’m going to do a bi-weekly Instagram and Facebook post called ‘Found in Books Friday,’ starting this Friday, April 21,” Bunkers said. “It will give people a glimpse at some of the odd, sweet, and interesting things that people leave in their library books.”
The collages will be on display through closing time on Saturday, April 29 at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St. Here’s a peek at some of them. Follow @lawrencelibrary on Instagram to see Bunkers’ upcoming posts.
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Molly Adams (she/her), photojournalist and news operations coordinator for The Lawrence Times, can be reached at molly (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Check out more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.