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Christine Metz Howard
KU News Service
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Pocket library project works to make books and art accessible

Fri, 02/28/2014

LAWRENCE — In an effort to bring books and art from walled-in institutions to sidewalks, the University of Kansas is working with the local community to build a community network of libraries that are about the size of birdhouses.

Tapping into two national trends to make reading and art accessible known as the Little Free Library Movement and the Makers Space Movement, the university has opened its woodshop to more than 30 members of the community. Leading the effort are Matt Burke, a professor of visual arts, and Mark Jakubauskas, a research associate professor with the Kansas Biological Survey.

The pocket libraries, which will one day offer books on front lawns across Kansas, are being constructed with lumber from trees that once surrounded the Lawrence Public Library. The trees were removed when the library underwent an extensive renovation. Through an initiative dubbed Logs to Literature, the library was looking for ways to keep the logs in the public realm and use them to advocate reading.

For Burke, the project was a chance to reconnect community members to the art of creating. The community group mixes novices with longtime craftsmen and some participants who haven’t picked up tools in more than 30 years.

The project ties into the national movement Makerspace, which forms community centers where artists can share tools, everything from drill presses to 3D printers.

“This goes back to the idea of people wanting to build with their hands,” Burke said. “You can reap a lot of reward if you can build with your hands.”

For years, Burke said his practice was a solo one. Burke’s artwork largely incorporates wood and has been displayed in shows and museums throughout the country.

“When I’m working with the community, my passion as an artist has shifted,” Burke said. “I’m no longer a solo study. Others are working with me.”

The project also takes the viewing of art out of the realm of museums and galleries and onto street corners and public spaces. To Burke, the end product of these libraries will be no different than a painting hanging in a museum.

“It’s the same experience of coming upon an object and having a sense of wonder about it,” Burke said.

In a second phase of the project, Burke wants to examine the life of the library and track the circulation of the books.

“As the culture moves more toward electronic technology, these libraries keep reading from a book on a visible level,” Burke said.



When looking to tackle the issue of obesity in rural America, where should we start? The answer is not what you might think. Empathy, says Christie Befort, an associate professor at KU who has just won a $10 million award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to investigate solutions to rural obesity. Many physicians are embarrassed talking about weight—especially in a small town where everybody knows each other, Befort says. By providing obesity treatment options in rural primary care, she plans to start a conversation, and maybe a revolution, in rural health care. For more details on Befort's efforts, check out the 2015 Chancellor's Report: http://bit.ly/1D5A5MO and her video: http://bit.ly/1C5xYZa Tags: #KUcommunities #Obesity #Health #Rural #Midwest Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute - PCORI

Turning rural America healthy: Christie Befort uses $10 million award. http://t.co/rrFjFtHbYT #KUcommunities http://t.co/uWUzdPDXsj
Explore KU: Experience a KU Men's Basketball tradition It’s explosive. It’s dramatic. It’s intimidating. It’s a KU tradition (see more at http://bit.ly/KUtraditions) simply known as the Confetti Toss. But it creates a primal eruption of fan enthusiasm at the opening of every KU men’s basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse. It starts as the visiting team is introduced on court. The KU student section is visibly bored and unimpressed. The entire section under the north basket holds up University Daily Kansans — making the point they’d rather read the newspaper than even look at the other team. They shake and rustle the student newspapers. Then the moment they were waiting for arrives — the Jayhawks enter the court. All Rock Chalk breaks loose. Newspapers, confetti and thousands of thundering voices soar into already charged atmosphere of KU’s hallowed basketball arena. The confetti hits its high point, near the banner on the north wall reading “Pay Heed, All Who Enter: Beware of the Phog.” And the confetti rains back into the stands, onto the court and into the memories of all at hand. It’s time to play.


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