Stories from the Walking Library

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


Professor Deirdre Heddon (University of Glasgow), and Dr Misha Myers (Falmouth University): Stories from the Walking Library The Walking Library is an ongoing art project created by Misha Myers and Dee Heddon, that seeks to bring together walking and books - walking, reading, reflecting, writing... The Walking Library follows in the footsteps of a long history. For example, in 1802 Coleridge walked through Cumberland, carrying 'a book of German poetry wrapped in green oilskin.' He apparently read the Book of Revelations in Buttermere. In 1818, Keats travelled the Lake District and up to Scotland with his friend Charles Brown. Keats' carried Dante's Divine Comedy, Brown the works of Milton. In 1867, on a thousand mile walk to the gulf, John Muir carried a copy of Robert Burns' poetry, Milton's Paradise Lost, William Wood's Botany, and a small New Testament. The Walking Library poses the question: what book would you take on a walk? It took its first walk as part of the Sideways Festival 2012, a peripatetic arts festival that walked 333km from the western to the eastern border of Belgium 'in the open' and 'on the go', which aimed to connect ecology and culture through using the 'slow ways' or 'slow paths' of Flanders. The Walking Library gathered more than 100 books to accompany the festival on its perambulations. In June 2013 the Walking Library walked near Glasgow, gathering and carrying hand-picked books to be donated to Bothan Suibhne, a bothy built on Eigg. Next, in Palo Alto, California, we created a Nightwalking Library, and walked from dusk to dawn, visiting the sleeping libraries of the city and Stanford University, carrying books about walking and time. This walk considered the various temporalities of walking - the rhythms of walking, the relationship of time to the walker's experience - duration, time-space and slow reading. Each Walking Library we create responds to - is specific to - the context of its walking. Each walk changes the shape - the content and the actions - of the library. Walking with a library of books, we wonder what these literary companions add to the journey; how collective reading and writing in situ affects the experience of the journey, the landscape and the experience of walking; how journeying and the landscape affects the experience of reading; how reading affects the experience of writing; and how a walk, as a space of knowledge production, is written and read.
Period20 Feb 2015
Event typeSeminar
LocationEdinburgh, United Kingdom