Libraries’ book displays introduce students to new concepts and areas of literature


Ava Mandoli/The Daily Northwestern

Third floor of Deering Library. Deering and University library book displays showcase a collection of works spotlighting various topics.

Ashley Lee, Reporter

For the past few weeks, excerpts from Sol LeWitt’s “Sentences on Conceptual Art” have welcomed students in Deering Library’s third floor. Annotations marked in red pen pop behind large books lined up in a row.

Through Deering and University Library book displays, Northwestern students can explore a variety of subjects and identities. Book displays’ themes include art and identity-based literature, among others.

The current exhibit in Deering explores conceptual art. The display houses several books on the topic: “Eva Hesse 1965” features Hesse’s work during a period of 15 months, and “Cai Guo-Qiang: Ladder to the Sky” reveals Cai’s artistic journey throughout his life.

For each display, Art Library Coordinator Perry Nigro writes a description of the subject and creates a poster in the backdrop to grab viewers’ attention.

“Sometimes I choose facets of art I enjoy and what I think other people might enjoy if it was presented in a certain way,” Nigro said.

The exhibit on the third floor of Deering replaced the former circulation desk. Nigro said the display is in front of the renovated remains of a plywood wall, so it seemed natural to host an exhibit there.

Nigro works with NU’s art librarian to put up displays students and visitors can learn from. Past displays have also focused on topical interests and local events.

“We try to put up something engaging that will make the viewer think a little bit about it,” Nigro said.

University Library’s New Book Nook currently spotlights Arab American stories during Arab American Heritage Month. Some books displayed include “Dark at the Crossing,” “A Country Called Amreeka: U.S. History Retold through Arab American Lives” and “No Land to Light On.”

First-year music graduate student Rachel Côté said the new book display aims to encourage visitors to explore literature in an environment where academic readings take up most of people’s reading time.

“I wonder how much young people read for fun, and it’s a great thing to do with your time,” Côté said. “It’s also a good way to diversify the library’s offerings.” 

SESP senior Bobby Read said it is necessary for the library to introduce new areas of literature to students through these exhibits. 

He also said the library should reach out to students more about its offerings,

“I know about them mostly because I work here,” he said. “I feel like (the library) could definitely do more promotion and marketing.”

Along with these curated exhibits, there are also smaller book displays at libraries across campus. However, Nigro added, the library bought fewer physical books and more ebooks during the pandemic, resulting in fewer new books to display.

Earlier this school year at one of the Deering displays, Nigro created a “Can’t Tell a Book by Its Color” exhibit by placing art books of the same color together. Nigro said it piqued the interest of many students because of its visual appeal.

“There is a lot of design that goes into art books,” Nigro said. “It is common that the book itself is a work of art.”

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Twitter: ashley_yw_lee 

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