Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ashless art

My father sits at night with no lights on,
His cigarette glows in the dark,
The living room is still,
I walk by, no remark.
(“That’s The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be” – Carly Simon) [Web site ; Wikipedia entry]

Although I wasn’t on the road with my fellow IAGers and colleagues from OCLC Research at either CIL or PLA last week, I’ve been away in the last two weeks, having but recently returned from Charlotte, North Carolina. This particular trip to NC was a fun trip, not business related, but alas like so many of my travels, it too gave rise to an episode of my chronic case of librarian’s wandering disease – i.e. when I’m anywhere near a library, I tend to wander in.  

So, on that recent promise-of-Spring-in-the-air Saturday in Charlotte I spent several pleasant hours wandering around the Main Library of the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. Now I might wax poetic about the fabulous historical materials collection in the Carolina Room on the top floor, or the very cool Virtual Village on the lowest floor, but on passing the coffee shop I was really drawn to the media space in the center – DVDs, CDs, and gaming (live gaming being enthusiastically pursued by a slightly-more-players-than-consoles crowd of very contented-looking patrons). And I also noticed something pretty interesting nearby – a cigarette machine that dispenses art, PLCMC’s own Artomat installation.  

I resisted the coffee and didn’t have time to queue for a game, but the Artomat machine was just too tempting. So I went to the main desk, traded my $5 for a token, and the token for a pull of the lever on the Artomat, and out came my prize -- a handcrafted book (blank pages for one to write in) in cigarette pack-sized box. Very cool – a book in a box (see photo) in a recycled cigarette vending machine in the library. Public access computing, coffee, gaming, art vending – what will these public librarians think of next?


Alice said...

I LOVE it! That is so Cool! I want one! Well actually, maybe I want the experience of attaining one.

Oh, very cool indeed!

Anonymous said...


I'm so glad you enjoyed your experience visiting our Main library in Charlotte. Please visit us again!

Do you mind if we use your comments in one of our upcoming Check it Out Magazine articles?

Sarah Poole
Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County
Communications Dept.

Eric said...

Sarah, I would be delighted to have any or all of my post used by PLCMC as it wishes. And I will look forward to visiting the Main library again!

Anonymous said...

Neat-o! And such a bummer that there aren't any Artomats in Michigan... even so, this is really inspiring.

Man, I love reading this blog. It's so *useful*!