“When you are growing up, there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully – the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equalizer.”
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Can books make our society a better, more caring place? The answer all depends on what you’re reading.
Overdue aims to create a unique library made up of a collection of specifically chosen books. Each text has been picked with the intention of encouraging hope, positivity and change in a society currently seeking direction. It will be an archive bequeathed by the best of our generation to the next aimed at nothing less that trying to create a better world.
While the public library has been one of the most resilient and indispensable vertebrae of British society since the mid 19th century, its future in the second decade of the 21st century looks far from certain. As one of the calmer targets of austerity, the institution has been forced into decline. Where previous generations – across all classes – could rely on the library’s enduring presence as a tool to better themselves mentally or spiritually, generations to come may find the only source of free knowledge available to be the labyrinthine and seemingly infinite web.
With that in mind, Overdue is an idea born out of necessity. If the ideology currently in practice has lead to unrepentant wholesale library closures then maybe we need to try teaching a different ideology. And if austerity threatens to change the course of our society, then can we use to words to start a fight back?
Overdue will be:
An exhibition space dedicated to the written word
A reference library
A reading room
An ideas generator
A shopping list and an art exhibit in one
A contemplative environment
A physical forum for debate and argument
And a magical rabbit hole away leading readers away from our homogenized high streets
The heart of Overdue will be a non-fiction collection put together by a group of people – a committee of the concerned as it were – who will each nominate the one text they think that, if widely read, would help to make the world a better place. Together, these books will make up a series of gently bowing bookshelves with the sole intention of promoting positive thought. Texts on politics, economics, history, arts, science and the environment will all feature each with inspirational dedications from the book’s sponsor. Children’s books will share shelf space with philosophy tomes. The common threat will be positivity and a No Pricks policy.
Publishers and teachers, economists and folk musicians, conceptual artists and scientists will all feature in the committee. Although an eclectic meeting of minds, the project’s goal will remain singular. When up and running, the local community will be able to nominate books that fit the criteria, helping to fill holes left by the committee.
The Overdue concept is ultimately moveable and definitely replicable. An online archive of written dedications, essays on each text, discussions and lectures from committee member will be created to run alongside the physical space. Wherever copyright allows, texts will be available as PDFs online.
In a rapidly changing world, Overdue will hopefully offer a way – a series of ways even – to start looking to improve the lot of the people on this planet. All it asks for is an open-minded audience and your dedication.