On Saturday, I went on yet another new adventure, one of my favorites of the year so far.
After the fierce storms of the night before, which knocked out power across the metro (and which I completely slept through except to note, hey, there’s lightning), the day opened sunny and warm, with a stiff, refreshing breeze. My internet was down. A perfect day to head up to Silver Lake at Silverwood Park and visit the Floating Library.
The Floating Library is an experimental public art project organized by Sarah Peters, a library of art books set adrift upon an urban lake, one the Twin Cities most prized summer locales. Also, as a librarian, I find it awesome to see how the ideas of the profession are reflected through the lens of art; Peters’ collection of unique and bizarre, lovely and thought provoking books, zines, and other mediums which expand what can be thought of as a book and what can be thought of as a library.
It is a great melding of Minnesota’s geological landscape with its wonderful cultural resources, the natural and the made coming together. On its third year, the Floating Library has traveled to Silver Lake, in St. Anthony, which seems a great place for the project. Silverwood Park is the designated “art park” of the Three Rivers Park system, and one I had never been to before. The lake is a small but picturesque place, with a couple of wooded islands, all bright green under the blue skies of the Minnesota summer. A perfect backdrop to enjoy some art books and zines.
Renting kayaks from the park facilities, my sister and I paddled out to the Floating Library, we found ourselves the first visitors to this years library. We pushed through the wind, moored to the cute library raft with its fluttering flag and shelves of materials overlooking the water and learned about the project and its history from Sarah. The collection includes circulating materials, which you can take anywhere in the park to peruse at your leisure, and return in some of the book drop receptacles scattered throughout the park.
Though the breeze on occasion made browsing a bit duct over the next couple hours, we browsed many titles from the stacks, both from the circulating materials and the reference collection, being recommended many interesting materials by Sarah and the other volunteers. There were examples from all over the country and the world, but my favorites were of course the local pieces. The little purple zine recording all of Princes’ lyrics that mention food, or the book that detailed the bodies of water from all of Minneapolis’ sister cities throughout the world. The breathtaking stereoscopic photos of miniature ships in their little box with the viewfinder like viewing glasses was particularly awesome, but those were among the tip of the iceberg of the things kept in the library. Speaking of that, the iceberg book, made of biodegradable ricepaper printed with images of icebergs patrons were encouraged to set adrift in the lake was also a really fun project. Of course, I have to mention the folding collection of water themed postcards, being a postcard fanatic.
I was really inspired by the innovation and creativity illustrated by these items; so many different styles, subjects, and ideas. You really have to see them to appreciate the diversity of the offerings. I have come to be very interested in zines and other physical self publishing, especially after the work my cousin accomplished in the medium, and I just need a little push, I hope, to start putting together more of my own. My goal next year is contribute something to the library, which is made from the donations of artists, bookmakers, writers, and other creative types.
In addition to the books and zines, we enjoyed the natural denizens of the lake as well, the turtles, purple martins, dragonflies, great blue herons and egrets that inhabited the banks.
The library will be setting sail again next weekend, July 25-26 11 am to 5, and on the evening of August 1st, for a moonlight paddle and poetry reading closing event at 8:30. Visiting Silverwood Park and the library is free, though you can rent canoes and kayaks from the park for the reasonable price of $5 an hour, if you can’t bring your own.
Another great place to check out zines year round in Minneapolis is the MCTC Library Zine collection; a few that I’ve collaborated on in the past can be found here, along with a lot more.
Silverwood Park, 2500 County Rd E
St. Anthony, MN
Minneapolis Community & Technical College
Library Zine Collection
1501 Hennepin Avenue