A future project of the LFTT is to establish the Legs Foundation Summer School Tour of Disused Knowledge. Based on the traditions of traveling libraries, unconventional “schools”, and oral archives we seek to present opportunities for the reuse of a collection of books, deemed “valueless” in new and inventive ways. The collection was formerly housed in the Franciscan friary at Multyfarnum in West Meath, parts of which, like some of the texts, date back to the 15th century. Our first collaborative project set out to address the collection just as the space that currently houses the library was about to be donated for charitable use. The 5000 books themselves were in jeopardy of being lost, having been deemed “unvaluable” by appraisers.
The current archive will be uploaded to a blog page to allow those in surrounding tour spots to search the collection – by catalogue or by oral recording. From this they can plan with us an art project; a play, an alternative informal lecture series linking unlikely texts, a reading group, a poetry reading, a game – centered around using information in critical, unconventional and imaginative ways. A truck, outfitted to be sustainably fueled, will be lined with shelves and filled with books; modeled after traveling libraries and “book mobiles” and driven to tour sites. Projects will be documented in both oral and written forms and added to the collection as we travel to designated stops and unexpected detours. As the books are used they will be “re-shelved” and re-catalogued according to the names and uses of those involved – so that the shape of the archive will be continually altered and expanded by the engagement of the audience.
The traveling library has a long history as a means of disseminating information in rural areas and times of hardship where grounded libraries could not be maintained. In the United States during the Depression the Works Progress Administration funded traveling libraries, bringing books even to the poorest of shanty towns. In rural Ireland during protestant rule local Hedge Schools were intitiated as a way of keeping education democratic. The Legs Foundation Traveling Library Summer School is providing these books not as knowledge given, but as material to be transformed, by and for its audience. As a mobile and autonomous artistic service we can reach audiences usually not engaged in contemporary art, establishing relevant connections with local libraries, churches, and other social venues as well as art spaces. Our responsibility as the new facilitators of the library is to preserve the collection, while continually expanding its cultural value by maintaining it as a publicly accessible site of dialogue. In this way we keep it culturally alive.