Reading Rooms Are All the Rage


Simultaneously working on my “Libraries” syllabus, reviewing proofs for my article on the Woodberry Poetry Room, and prepping to revise for publication an article about the materiality of architectural publishing forms, I was reminded again of how hot reading rooms/ad-hoc libraries seem to be.

Martha Rosler created one with e-flux. Then e-flux did it again, seemingly sans Martha. Dexter Sinister has had an “occasional bookstore” in their basement space on Ludlow Street, and then they made a reading room with Shannon Ebner in Berlin. Speaking of Germans: common room created a reading room at the Goethe-Institut’s Spring Street space in NY. Ooga Booga did the same for the Swiss Institute. Bidoun’s mobile library is traveling the world; it stopped off at The New Museum for a while last fall. Proteus Gowanus regards itself a “gallery and reading room.” Coincidentally, they’ve got the Reanimation Library right next door — along with Cabinet, which built its National Library out in the desert a few years ago. Cabinet’s Canadian kindred spirit, Fillip, has a reading room (they even have an invisible reading room — oooh!), and they brought an AAAARG branch to this year’s NY Art Book Fair (speaking of which: the Reanimation Library and Ooga Booga both participated on an Experimental Libraries panel at the conference; both Andrew Piper and I were there). The Van Alen Institute also has a reading room, and now they’re creating a pop-up bookstore at street-level in their building. The CCA‘s into the whole pop-up thing, too.

I’m totally fine with this trend.

Ebner / Dexter Sinister Reading Room

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