The Library of Unread Books call for books

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The Library of Unread Books call for books,

Heman Chong , Renée Staal,


While there have been many projects by artists calling for the donation of books around particular subjects and issues, we now call for your “unread” books – that is, books that perhaps linger on your to-read pile or are no longer of interest to you. Your donation will go towards The Library of Unread Books, to be exhibited at Casco, 26 November 2017 – 25 February 2018, and opening Saturday 25 November 2017, 12:00–15:00 with lunch!

The Library of Unread Books is a project initiated by Heman Chong and Renée Staal and will be installed at Casco alongside the Army of Love exhibition with Dora García and Ingo Niermann. Both exhibition projects deal with access, excess and the politics of redistribution.

With over 500 titles, The Library of Unread Books is a living reference library that traces the perimeters of excess knowledge. Every single book you find in the collection was once private property and has been donated by an individual who did not read it when it was in their possession. Contributors to the growing mobile library receive a personalized library card and a lifetime membership. The Library of Unread Books brings to light these once-hidden-away titles to emphasize shared knowledge. The books, which are accessible to anyone who can visit the library sites, work to create a commons.

Reminding us that a (private) library is both a means to an end and a research tool rather than an accessory, Umberto Eco famously called for an “antilibrary” made up of unread books. The novelist and scholar argued that read books are far less valuable than the unread ones and that a library should contain as much of what one does not know as finance might allow. “You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly.” In the case of this library of unread books, access to knowledge is not contingent on finance, and so the books are reverted back to a common resource pool.

We encourage and gladly receive books prior to the period that the Library is installed at Casco. Feel free to post your book to Casco (Lange Nieuwstraat 7) or drop by during opening hours (10:00–18:00) to deliver it in person. Your library card will be mailed to you during the exhibition period. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions.


Press Release


Supported by

The Casco program is supported by Mondriaan Fund, the City Council of Utrecht, and DOEN Foundation via Arts Collaboratory.