In March of 2018, the Block Museum and the Northwestern University Library joined together for a special workshop inviting participants to “Read With the Spine.” This two-day event used the site of the library to explore fundamental questions about human experience and the nature of books and libraries themselves, such as:
- What does it mean to listen, especially now?
- How is a history made, on the human level?
- What do we archive and why?
- Why choose a book as the form for ideas?
- What is the sensory ecosystem of a library?
Working individually and collectively, participants immersed themselves in looking, listening, reading, writing and responding to sites and materials across the libraries. e was developed and led by Kaplan Artist-in-Residence Jen Bervin; the Block Museum’s Susy Bielak, the Susan and Stephen Wilson Associate Director of Engagement/Curator of Public Practice; Martin Antonetti, the Library’s Director of Distinctive Collections; and a team of the Libraries’ curators and conservators—including from the Art Library, Archival Processing, Melville J. Herskovits Library, Music Library, Preservation and Conservation, and the Transportation Library. Participants drew inspiration from library holdings, as well the architecture of the historic Deering and Main Libraries themselves.