Human library of Hydrabad

The aim of these events is to let people choose from the various categories of human books available. Once you have chosen your book, you get to have an intimate chat with them for 30 minutes. Anybody can be a book, as long as they have interesting experiences and stories to share and fit into the categories and provided by Fad.

At their debut in March 2017, 10 human books were available, the number of books are expected to double at the next event. Talking about his favourite books, Fad says that, out of all the books that he has managed to collect so far, “surviving domestic violence and self-loathing narcissists are my favourite human books as they instill courage and deter the strangeness in you.”

Sharing stories can be emotionally overwhelming for the narrators, when asked whether the books were moved before or after one session, Fad says, “After each reading session we ask the human books how they feel and if they are emotionally equipped to share more.” In the 30 minutes reading time, not only can you listen to experiences, but you can also ask questions, making it a thoroughly interactive session!


Project Showcase: The Future of Libraries

The Future of Public Libraries project was a small-scale pilot, funded by Creative Scotland’s Creative Futures Programme. It was delivered through the Institute of Design Innovation at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) working in partnership with three library service providers: Argyll and Bute Council, Glasgow Life, and South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture.


The InDI project team:
Catherine Docherty: Programme Director
Christina Kinnear: Innovation Designer
Kate Dowling: Design Facilitator
Iain Reid: Design Facilitator

from: “Art & Life”, in: Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery, 1995

What will happen when there are no more Public Libraries and the World is on CD-Rom?
Where will we go, we exiles from actuality?
What will happen to vets who read Miss Steen
and young girls looking for visions beyond their allotted lens?
In the homogeneity of screen and disc who will find the disruptiveness of the page?
And will we invent fabulous stories of lost libraries where rooked urchins gather books from mile high branches of crazy shelves? (p. 155)



Drik is a multi-media organisation that champions human rights and social change by means of photography, information technology and media activism.

Drik is a driving force behind the development of photographers in the South. The organization supports individuals fighting against the hegemony of the Western media.


Domestic worker’s after-work reading group


Hong Kong is home to more than 320,000 migrant domestic workers: 49.4 percent are from Indonesia, 48 percent are from Philippines and the others are mainly from Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Although this large minority group makes up four percent of Hong Kong’s population, migrant domestic workers, their legal rights, society status and personal needs are often absent from local narratives.

According to a 2013 report by Amnesty International, migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong are at high risk of seeing their human and labour rights violated.

Hoping to make a difference is Para Site, a contemporary art centre in Quarry Bay that has been collaborating with domestic workers and grassroots cultural organisations to produce a multifaceted platform of programmes, spanning photography, art, education and literature.

The latter art form saw the creation of the “Afterwork Reading Club” – an ongoing cultural project that brings the writing of domestic workers to their peers and the wider community.

Qinyi Lim from Para Site and Brigitta Isabella from Indonesia’s KUNCI Cultural Studies, who teamed up to spearhead the reading/writing initiative. Read more

Full programme of the afterwork reading group :
Session I: Process
2 August, 1pm, Victoria Park
Nh. Dini, Naluri yang Mendasari Penciptaan and Indira Margareta, Cahaya untuk Penaku

This session looks at the figure of the writer and the definition behind the classification of literature in contrast to everyday journaling and communication via social media. How does literature’s function compare to that of other forms of writing? Using texts of Nh. Dini and Indira Margareta, an Indonesian migrant worker in Hong Kong, this session serves as an introduction to the methodology guiding the reading group.

Session II: Work
9 August, 10 am, Private home, Tai Wai New Village
Umar Kayam, Lebaran Ini, Saya Harus Pulang and Seno Gumira Ajidarma, Sarman

What is the meaning of work? Why must one work? How does one put work into their writing? Nem, the main character in Umar Kayam’s short story, spent half of her life working as a loyal housemaid. Sarman, a male character in Seno Gumira Ajidarma’s short story also worked at his office job for 10 consecutive years. This session questions whether time moves in a linear fashion or endlessly repeats itself. Can time leave us behind, or can we escape the repetition of time? What does time mean for us who work endlessly, who impatiently wait for time to pass—the sooner, the better—hoping our shift ends as fast as it can? Do we live to work, or work to live? Is writing a form of work? Can a writer document the flow of time and control the medium of time?

Session III: Event
15 August, 1pm, Para Site Residency Apartment, Sheung Wan
Hanna Fransisca, Kawan Tidur

What is considered news in the mass media today? A riot takes place in Tolikara. A lawyer is arrested before celebration of Eid. A band called Duo Serigala releases their new song. The US dollar gets stronger. President Jokowi meets the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. A 10-year-old child dies in Nepal. A relentless drought hits Bekasi. A female reporter is murdered by some robbers. Twelve people, riding their motorbikes, on their way to their own respective hometowns, are killed on the road. Deddy Corbouzier is ready to have a serious relationship again. A cop gets beaten at Gambir’s train station. News flows in every day. Events come and go. How do the eyes and ears of a writer capture and represent the events around them? How does one differentiate between the important and the non-important elements? By reading this play by Hanna Fransisca, the group will talk about how a writer confronts her own personal perspectives with the unfolding of random events around her.

Session IV: Language
30 August, 2:30pm, Para Site
Afrizal Malna, xezok ker lubigjob kurlesok

There are languages that are familiar to us. There are languages that make us feel foreign. Can we conquer this feeling of foreignness by conquering a particular language? Is there a universal language that can be understood by everyone? What is a “difficult text” and how does one create meaning from “the unreadable”? Taking Afrizal Malna’s short story based on his experience of being lost in translation in Berlin, this discussion will serve as a means to destabilize familiarity of one’s mother tongue and identity through language.

Session V: Room
13 September, 2:30 pm, Private Home
Lily Yulianti Farid, The Kitchen and Sapardi Djoko Damono, Layout

Walking from room to room, morning after morning, we try to organize the thoughts in our mind through temporary mental architectures. More than anything, these daily morning rituals are perhaps the most fundamental way of surviving in the everyday. This session deals with the ideas of private and public spaces and reflects on what can be learnt about these sites of domesticity.

Session VI: Conclusion
27 September, 1 pm, Victoria Park
Arista Devi, Purple Testimony and Budi Darma, The M Family

This concluding session will try to link all previous readings and discussion topics. Time and physical distance will have allowed for some reflection and possibly changed some perspectives through the development of vocabularies enabled by the readings. How can this be applied to our everyday lives and how do we define the material changes that were effected by these shifts in perspectives?

Further details can be found on the Klub Baca Selepas Kerja Facebook group. This project is made possible through support from the Foundation for Arts Initiatives.

Open Edit: Mobile Library in Colombo

Asia Art Archive and Raking Leaves in partnership with Groundviews and University of Jaffna jointly present Open Edit: Mobile Library in Sri Lanka at Christa Seva Ashram, Chuunakam, Jaffna.

Following its first edition in Ho Chi Minh City in 2011, the Mobile Library will travel to Sri Lanka, making its first appearance in South Asia. In its ambitious second edition, Raking Leaves and AAA will launch the Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture and Design. Second copies of many of the materials in the Sri Lankan archive will become part of AAA’s collection, enriching the Archive’s representation of Sri Lanka.

The Mobile Library collection is comprised of 400 books, exhibition catalogues, periodicals, and monographs. Beginning in Jaffna, the Mobile Library will be housed at Christa Seva Ashram for three months while the University of Jaffna’s Fine Arts (Art History) and Art and Design Departments will integrate the library and its materials into their day-to-day curriculum activities. The project will be accompanied by a series of programmes targeting artists, students, creative professionals, teachers, and academics. The project will also invite students and teachers from the Eastern University in Batticoloa and the Visual and Performing Arts University, Colombo, to utilise the rich array of materials in the archive.

The accompanying art exhibition features a mix of aspiring and established artists among whom are: J. Abiramie, Muhanned Cader, Marisa Gnanaraj, S. Hanusha, Sharni Jayawardena and Malathi de Alwis, T. Krishnapriya, S. Puranthara, P. Pushpakanthan, G. Samvarthini, N. Savesan, K. Suresh, T. Thajendran, Pradeep Thalawatta, Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Thisath Thoradeniya (working with Kumari Kumaragamage and Janananda Laksiri) and M. Vijitharan. The project is funded by Burger Collection and the Foundation for Arts Initiatives.


Further readings:
Art radar on the mobile library
Raking leaves (art and books)
Sunday times article on the mobile library

Community innovations at the British Library

The innovative work of the British library around their collections is quite exemplary. Not only have they been able to solve the challenge of providing open access but also celebrating the creative commons. This can be seen in project such as the crossroads of curiosity by David Normal. In December 2013, British library labs and digital research teams released 1 million algorithmically snipped images from 65,000 digitised books on to the Flickr Commons. Since then, the British Library Flickr Commons photostream has amassed a staggering 260 million views. The use of a mechanical curator digitised and open sourced images from the library archives on Flickr let to the crossroads exhibition.

Their use of open innovation through competitions and letting artists, researchers and entrepreneurs use their collections is creditworthy. Their innovation competition entries have 3 categories:

i). Research: This is work that has been done in the context of a research project or activity. It should show the development of new knowledge about the British Library’s digital content, research methods, or tools.

ii). Creativity:This is work that uses the British Library’s digital content in the context of artistic or creative endeavours. It should inspire, stimulate, amaze and provoke.

iii). Entrepreneurship: This is work that delivers or develops commercial value. It could be in the context of new products, tools, or services that build on, incorporate, or enhance the British Library’s digital content to produce commercial value.

The tools and processes that are used in the creative-entrepreneurial work is made available online for the public and other libraries to learn and get inspiration from. Their commitment to open access and open source is noticeable in the directives of the competition entries and in the digital tools and resources they make public on their webpage.

They also encourage political debates by organising activities such as the wikithon on food, digital rights events, mapping historical political meetings etc.

Other notable projects include:
My digital rights: Magna Carta for the digital age

Meta-Data games

Metadata Games, the National Standard open source crowdsourcing game platform, is used with over 45 Collections represented at 11 Institutions. It includes tens of thousands of media items (images, audio, video) that have generated 167,000 tags, with even outlier images garnering nearly 100 tags each.

Descriptive metadata cannot be generated by computers, as it’s dependent on what’s in images, audio files, and videos. Adding metadata is prohibitively time consuming for individuals or small institutions with large media collections. Metadata Games allows you to harness the power of players to easily enhance information about your collections.


Further reading: