Book Grids 1 - 6 from Portrait of a Library
Book Grids 1 - 6 from Portrait of a Library

Portrait of a Library


Excerpt from ‘Portrait of a library’ publication:


I have being visiting local libraries since childhood. I am fascinated by the idea that you can borrow books for free and that these books will pass through many hands before reaching me. Each book with its personal history, documented by the date stamps in the inside cover, representing a new reader with every new date. Looking at the dates, would wonder about the other people who had read the book. Did they finish it, or perhaps just read a few pages and lost interest? Sometimes a clue about previous readers would be left in the form of a bookmark; a receipt from a supermarket, a postcard from a sunny location, or a scrap of paper torn from a notebook. recent discoveries of routing slips, suggested books ordered from other library branches and made me consider the motivations of the people who sought these specific titles.

During July 2010, I approached the public library in Dalkey, Co. Dublin with the intention of beginning a photographic art project. My idea was to visit the library a number of times to document its contents. As the library would be closed for cleaning on tuesday and thursday mornings, it was agreed that this would be a good time for me to be there. My visits began in August when I started the work of photographing the books and other aspects of the library space. Across several visits I made over a thousand photographs.


The resulting images have become a series of photomontage grids, diptychs and single image photographs of book details and the library interior. The collection of photographs contained in the ‘Portrait of a Library’ project documents the contents of a library. it’s history of borrowing is marked by their beautiful worn book covers, broken spines, creased pages and intriguing date stamps.


Doreen Kennedy 2011




The new Dun Laoghaire Rathdown library borrower card features images from the Portrait of a Library series.

Portrait of a Library 4
Portrait of a Library 5
Portrait of a Library 6