Libraries are extraordinary. You want a book, they’ll lend you a book. They don’t have the book? They’ll get it for you. The cost? Usually, nothing. Even if the book you want is not available in the library system, they will get it for your through inter-library loan (at least the Dallas Public Library will) for a pittance. I think I paid $1.75 the last time I got a book that way; it was unavailable electronically.
I wrote about the death of libraries a few months ago. I hope my pessimistic predictions about libraries are wrong. Rarely do I hope to be wrong (why hope for something that so often occurs regularly and naturally?), but I want to be wrong about libraries.
As I considered the value of libraries, though, I thought to myself, “there’s room for improvement in the concept…libraries already lend literary art in the form of books and videos and audio recordings, they should extend that to the visual arts!” And then I started looking to see if that’s a new concept. It is not. The Greenwich, Connecticut library does it. The Art Lending Library in Seattle does it. The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum Art Lending Library in Chicago does it. The Minneapolis Art Lending Library does it.
Alas, it appears the Dallas Public Library does not have an art lending program. I wish it did. I’d love to be able to view new art (I’m perfectly willing to settle for prints) on my walls every
few weeks. Though it would be nice to have prints of famous pieces by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, et al, I’d be just as happy and maybe happier to hang prints from local artists whose style is appealing. To be honest, though, I don’t know who those local artists are, as I’m not much into the arts scene.
I wonder if local artists would be interested in contributing prints of their work to an art lending library? What about the sculptors in the local arts community? Would they want me to show off their work in my front yard? This is just a dream, of course; I do not have the connections nor the wherewithal to instigate such an endeavor. But I wish someone would.
For the time being, at least, I’ll have to settle for borrowing books. I have requested several books that should be getting to my branch library any day now:
- Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, by Kenneth T. Jackson;
- The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes;
- Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy, by Raghuram Rajan; and
- Coming Back: New Orleans Resurgent, by Mario Tama
With the exception of The Sense of an Ending, I’ll probably just browse. Kind of like what I would do with the borrowed art.