To mark National Libraries Day This Saturday 8 February Librarian Susan gives us a few quick tips and favourite bits of Iniva’s Stuart Hall Library
When did you first become interested in working in Libraries?
Way back in the mists of 1985 when I was trying and failing to make a living as an artist. It was a stroke of luck to get a part-time library assistant job at the Sir John Cass School of Art at Whitechapel. It was a big change from my previous job in a benefits office; a typical library enquiry at that time was “where can I find books on feminist art?” a nice change from “where is my giro cheque?” I worked happily at the institution for 28 years, and was eventually responsible for the image collection.
Could you give us a brief summary of the Stuart Hall library in your own words?
The Library supports Iniva’s aim to explore the diversity of contemporary culture and society through art. The collection helps our users to study and engage with the current debates. The stock of exhibition catalogues impressed me; with publications covering shows in countries as diverse as Palestine, Vietnam and Cuba. I am looking forward to working on the artists’ archive and zines collection.
Our visitors include students, artists, PhD scholars and writers. Since I started work here, in November 2013, I have sat in on two of the Library’s evening Research Network meetings. The stimulating talks by artists and writers were followed by discussions, drinks and nibbles in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.
What is your favorite thing about the Stuart Hall Library?
The quiet, studious atmosphere makes it easy for researchers (and me) to concentrate. The Library’s geometric wood and concrete architecture (David Adjaye) contributes to the sense of calm; taking you away from the bustle of Shoreditch.
What makes the Stuart Hall Library different?
The focus on alternative ideas and art practices from around the world. It is exciting to see new ideas from emerging British artists working outside the mainstream of the gallery system.
What’s your favourite book in the Library collection? (if that’s not too hard a question to answer!)
I am attracted to the artists’ fresh, inventive use of materials combined with elements of Korean popular culture in ‘Korean Art : The Power of Now’ ed. Hossein Amirsadeghi. But I have only been here a couple of months, so there is still plenty to discover and a dictionary’s-worth of new art vocabulary to acquire!