Monday, June 8, 2015

Building a Book Igloo

Miler Lagos' work "Home" and our inspiration

Our school’s library was in need of book weeding. There were encyclopedias that were twenty years old, books that hadn’t been checked out in thirty years, and some that were just plain falling apart. In fact, there were hundreds of books like this and it just didn’t seem right to throw them out.  It all became clear after our school librarian, Kate Byrnes, discovered this installation by Colombian artist Miler Lagos. This what we needed to do. We needed to mobilize our Young Maker’s club and build a book igloo.

Book Igloo prototype

Having never built such an igloo before, it was important to build a prototype. The Makers Club adeptly stacked books over the course of two afternoons (informed by lots of Minecraft practice) until the igloo began to show signs of structural failure. They did a great job and the prototyping process was really informative. When we started we focused on the width and length of the books. Our test made it clear that it was the thickness that was truly important: each row needed to be built with similarly thick books.

Maker Club building the igloo platform

Then the kids helped me build a platform for the igloo. We want the igloo to be movable in order to keep the library space flexible and for more practical reasons, like cleaning the rug. I was especially proud of one of our middle school helpers who figured out how to build a brace for the casters.

Students answering the question, "What does reading mean to me?"

Once the platform was ready we had students use sharpie markers to answer the question “What does reading mean to me?” Their answers are amazing and they add a warmth and personal feeling to the project. Our book igloo is becoming an art installation like Miler Lagos’ work. Unlike Lagos’ igloo, ours will be permanent. Each book will be glued into place by construction adhesive creating a book nook where students can enjoy reading. The igloo will be a centerpiece of the library next year and I’m looking forward to blogging about the finished project as soon as it’s done.

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