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Maria Chatzi : Find Creative Inspiration in a Public Library

Booking Creativity

Find Creative Inspiration in a Public Library

By Maria Chatzi

Have you ever sensed the flow of creativity streaming your way while you were looking up some information or reading a book, in a seemingly quiet corner, in your local library? When I was ten, two of the most inspiring places in the world for me were our garden and the public library in my hometown. Some decades later, I still experience nature and public libraries as magic gateways to the wondrous path of creative inspiration.

Visit your local library and feel this creative flow. Take a camera and a notebook with you, so you could take some shots (ask for the librarians permission first) and jot down your ideas, feelings and thoughts. Following is a list I’ve compiled for you, of ideas and activities to make your inspiration hunt interesting, playful and joyful.

  1. Get inspired by contrasts in book appearances; spot the largest and the smallest books in the library, or the thickest and the thinnest, or the one with the most complicated cover design and the one with the simplest. Observe them carefully. Keep notes of what’s interesting about each one of them. When you go home, make the largest craft or artwork for the smallest book in the library, the most complicated for the simplest, the chunkiest for the thinnest (or most delicate).
  2. Count the third bookcase on the left (side or corridor) of the library entrance and then count up to the third on the right. Choose a book to read from the third shelf from both bookcases. Then write a poem or a short story, or make a simple sketch, combining the content of both books — do all these activities on the spot, with any material and tools available to you in the library.
  3. Make a list of what type of decorative art the color combination of your local library décor inspires you to create. Then, make a second list of the materials you would choose for each item on your list. Finally, make a third list of the types of people you believe would be interested in each one of your creations.
  4. Go to the picture books section. Close your eyes and put your finger on any book. Design and craft a bookmark for that book, related to its theme.
  5. Do some “sniffing” at different corners of the library — see what some books smell like. What about computers? Any displays, except books? Check furniture too. Note down what each one of these smells reminds you of. Start an art journal with this experience in mind.
  6. Hunt the library for any type of marks and signs left by other users in your community. Make up a story, comics, or craft a board game, using your findings.
  7. Think of activities you would like to see taking place in the library. Interview other library users, who happen to be there at that time — what activities would they like to see in your local library? Make a short list and give it to the librarian. Suggest starting a joint project with volunteers (pick some of the people you interviewed) to materialize your ideas.
  8. Take photos of different things and places in your local library (close ups are great!) and make some artistic postcards with them to mail to friends who are booklovers and live in other parts of your country (or a foreign country).
  9. Find a cozy corner in the public library, sit on the floor, relax and try to imagine what it would be like if you lived there. Write down your thoughts. How would the experience differ if you loved books, hated them or were totally indifferent to them?
  10. From the “Picture Books” section, choose a picture book you dislike and make a list of 8 -10 things in favor of the book.
  11. Go on a pattern hunting adventure. Keep notes of any kind of patterns you see in the library. Use these notes and patterns for a craft project or to create any type of art (creating a choreography would also be interesting and challenging).
  12. Go to a section you don’t normally read books from. Choose a book and read it. Pretend the particular book played a major role in an important decision you have made (or a friend of yours has made). Write a short story about it.
  13. Write an advertisement for your local library campaign. Place it on your blog or a friend’s blog. Distribute photocopies of it offline.
  14. Keep revisiting your local library for a month (at least twice a week). Then, start an inspiration file with things you’ve been inspired to do from your visits to the library.
  15. Touch various surfaces and materials in the library and feel the texture. Keep notes or write adjectives that describe these items. Use the adjectives and your notes to write a scene from a play.
  16. Find a couple of things you don’t like about the public library, I mean the physical place. If you were to remodel it, describe the changes you would make.
  17. Describe the library, using all senses, from the point of view of a fly (or spider) sitting on a book’s spine on one of the top shelves of a bookcase.
  18. Sit in a quiet corner, with this list of ideas. Find inspiration, make connections and add more ideas to the list.

Do these exercises and you will gain a wealth of innovative ideas to boost your creativity.

What you need to remember:

Nobody’s asking you to be a professional writer or poet. You needn’t be a craft designer, a professional decorator or an artist either. Also, these ideas and activities are not only for the skilled and the talented — they are for everyone. Professionals in the creative fields previously mentioned, will benefit from them too.

Best Tip

Try the things you’ve never done before — dare start with those activities, from the above list, that you believe are the most challenging ones, or the ones that you don’t feel comfortable with.

The above ideas to find creative inspiration in a public library could be a great help to those of you seeking self-awareness and self-growth through creativity, as a way of healing. It doesn’t matter how successful your efforts may be. Allow yourself to experience new challenges and to develop your problem solving skills. Creative thinking builds on experiences. •

© 2013 Maria Chatzi. All rights reserved.

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