Saturday, May 30, 2009

Altered Books

There's been a thread in one of my social networks about "altered books". It sounded intriguing, but I had never heard of "altered books" before. The first thought that ran through my mind was, "Is that like altered pets? How would one alter a book?" So, being a librarian and in need of a fun research challenge, I went in search of more information. Here's what I found:

There is a large community of altered book artists, with individuals featuring their own and others' work. (Do they alter book artists, too?) Wikipedia has published an article, and images on many web sites illustrate the artists' rich imagination. There is an International Altered Book Artists Society. And they have defined an altered book as follows:

It is any book, old or new that has been recycled by creative means into a work of art. They can be ... rebound, painted, cut, burned, folded, added to, collaged in, gold-leafed, rubber stamped, drilled or otherwise adorned...

Examples from a group of altered book artists are featured on this Altered Books site, which expains thusly:

Cut the bindings off of books found at a used book store. Find poems in the pages by the process of obliteration. Put pages in the mail and send them all around the world. Lather, rinse, repeat.

A simple Google search yields even more examples at the British art e-zine Altered Books Cam, and instructions for creating your own altered book at Altered, and even a lesson plan for middle school students from Princeton Online.

Is this a book form the library might collect? Probably not. Or maybe. Depending. We do have books about altered books.

I'm still struggling with the idea because of the hard lesson delivered to my back-side as a toddler after I color-coded the table of contents in my Real Mother Goose. Times change, I guess!

TheGoingGreen's altered book image is used with permission.

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