Library Art committee launches new push to support student expression through sharing sketchbooks

To most students, Watzek Library represents a collection of finished products. Yet this year, Watzek has made an effort to promote an interactive art. It takes the form of public and personal sketchbooks, which are distributed around the library and available for checkout respectively, in which students are encouraged to express themselves using any art form.

“We were talking about how can we bring artistic expression into the library,” David Shratter, the Assistant Supervisor of Circulation said. “How we can bring student expression visually into the library.”

The sketchbooks are the result of the efforts of the Library Art Committee, which is made up of Chair Erica Jensen, Michelle Pennock, Melissa Roane, and Shratter. The committee got their inspiration from The Sketchbook Project, an art initiative in Brooklyn.

Patrons of The Sketchbook Project pick up a small sketchbook, which they then fill with art. The Sketchbook Project collects these finished sketchbooks, which they display and tour around the country.

The project in Watzek works in much of the same way. Students can either chose to contribute to one of the three public sketchbooks in the periodical room, at the top of the stairs, and near the writing center, or check out a personal sketchbook that they later return to be archived.

“There’s something, I think, for anybody who expresses themselves visually, some level of recognition or appreciation supports their efforts. And that’s really what we want to do as a library in general. Support the efforts of the community that we’re serving,” Shratter said.

Along with the sketchbooks, the library also provides art supplies for students to check out.

“It’s really about how to support the arts and bring it alive in the library. And support the students,” Shratter said. “The library is always about supporting students as best we can.”

So far, about 10 personal sketchbooks have been checked out, and none have been returned.

“We haven’t really intensely [publicized] it, because we’re just kind of thinking we’ll let it go [by] word of mouth and see how it works,” Shratter said.

Once students begin to return the personal sketchbooks, Watzek plans to archive and display them, so that other students may peruse each other’s work. Needless to say, the Library Art Committee is excited to “let the students know that we appreciate and support visual expression, especially theirs,” Shratter said.

In the meantime, students are encouraged to take a break from the onslaught of exams as the semester draws to a close, and spend time adding to and browsing through the work of their fellow students in the public sketchbooks.

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