|The National Library of Latvia|
|Book sculpture ceiling at QUT Library, Kelvin Grove|
In an article for The Guardian newspaper psychologist, Christian Jarrett put forward a theory of collecting. He argues that collecting is how we cope with hidden anxieties and desires. It’s how we make up for the feeling of being unloved or create intimacy with celebrities. It’s even ‘survival of the fittest’. We accumulate possessions to enhance our status in a consumer-driven society.
As a teenager I collected memorabilia from the sci-fi drama, The X Files. But my early collecting efforts were restrained, even half-hearted. I read about a young woman who used her entire pay cheque to buy the much coveted X Files bomber jacket. Such a ruthless, uncompromising passion for collecting was foreign to me… until I started collecting libraries.
|Courtyard at the National Library of Russia, St Petersburg|
My collection began last year in St Petersburg. I found a rare collector’s item: the National Library of Russia. I stood outside this magnificent library surrounded by marigolds, in a courtyard looking up at the sky. And that was the moment I knew I would collect libraries.
For a collector the desire to acquire goes beyond reason and sense. I nearly missed the tour bus from Lithuania because I was entranced by the Wroblewski Library. I braved severe weather warnings in Minsk so I could see the National Library of Belarus. In a Moscow underground station I walked up to strangers and asked for directions to the Russian State Library using the only three words I knew in Russian language: please, thank-you and library.
|The Russian State Library, Moscow|
For me collecting libraries is challenging. But when I look at the photographs on my Instagram account I don’t think of the difficulties, the anxiety or the confusion. What I remember is how visiting the Wroblewski Library was like kneeling in a church. Being under a glass roof in the National Library of Belarus felt as though I were standing beneath a canopy in a tropical rainforest, watching the rain drops fall. I remember sitting on the majestic stone steps of the Russian State Library, watching as people meet and greet on a sunny autumn morning. Whether I’m in Moscow or Melbourne, what I see are libraries as meeting places, places of community.
|Craigieburn Library, Melbourne|
Jarrett, C 10 Nov 2014, “Why do we collect things? Love, anxiety or desire” The Guardian, Life and Style, online
Event Officer, ALIA Sydney