Release Date: February 5,2018

Check out original works of art just like books at the Akron Art Library

You don’t have to be a jet-setting billionaire to live with original works of art in your own house. In Summit County, all you need is a library card. The Akron Art Museum will launch the Akron Art Library, a new collaboration with the Akron-Summit County Public Library (ASCPL) that will let anyone with a library card check out original artworks to display in their home. The program begins with a free celebration at Main Library on Thursday, February 22, from 6:30 to 8:00 P.M. Attendees will get the first look at the art library collection, and will have the first opportunity to reserve works, which will begin circulating on March 1. The art library was funded in part by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of its Knight Arts Challenge along with support from GAR Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, and the Lehner Family Foundation.

“The Akron Art Library takes the idea behind Inside|Out to the next level,” said Akron Art Museum Director of Education Alison Caplan.  “While Inside|Out placed reproductions of artwork from the Akron Art Museum collection in neighborhoods, Akron Art Library puts original works of art that people choose and check out directly into their homes. We want to give people the opportunity to bring art by artists whose work is traditionally shown in museums and galleries into their own homes, to share with family and friends, and live with among their own furniture, decorations and living spaces,” she added.

ASCPL Deputy Director Pam Hickson-Stevenson said, “The Library and the museum have been strong collaborative partners in the past. The Akron Art Library project is yet another example of how the two organizations join forces for the benefit of the community we serve.”

At the February 22 kick-off celebration, attendees can meet artists represented in the collection. One art library artist who created work with a direct connection to the ASCPL, Micah Kraus, will be at the celebration to demonstrate how he used the ASCPL’s TechZone laser engraver to create his artwork. Additionally, a restoration specialist from Art Recovery Technologies will talk about the proper care and handling of art. The museum will also provide art activities for all ages, and light refreshments will be served.

Akron Art Library Program Coordinator Jessica Fijalkovich plans to bring art library programs to Main Library and into the community throughout the year. Fijalkovich said that the programs range from “how to care for and handle art, to talks about collecting, tours of the collection, artist-led talks and art-making demos.” Akron Art Museum and ASCPL will partner to host films about collecting art, as well as showcasing other library resources on the subject.

“We want to provide a new context for the public to encounter art in their daily lives, allowing them to create further meaning as they experience these works in a more personal way,” Fijalkovich said.

Any Summit County resident with a library card is eligible to participate in the Akron Art Library. The program lets patrons check out original works of art by regional, national and international artists with their library card, just as they would a book. The art library team at the Akron Art Museum researched and purchased artwork for the collection from artists, contributing to the local arts economy. While the works in the art library collection are not available for purchase, artist contact information will be included with the artworks should library patrons wish to inquire about buying art from their favorite artists.

Caplan added, “The art library gives the Akron Art Museum a new way to promote arts dialogue and connect new audiences with art—especially those who are not museum visitors and who may not otherwise have much interaction with art. We’re also excited and pleased to connect with library patrons through programming, helping visitors choose works of art, sharing information about the art, as well as assisting them in the proper care of the works.”

“When you bring the arts directly into people’s lives, magical things happen. People begin to see their lives, their communities in different ways. We look forward to seeing the ways that this program inspires people and sparks conversations,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at the Knight Foundation. 

Works available in the Akron Art Library will be catalogued by ASCPL librarians and searchable using the library’s online database at AkronLibrary.org. The artworks will be on view at Main Library across from the reference desk in the Culture and AV department on the second floor in a display system created by Akron artist and fabricator, Dominic Falcione of Krunchworks. Work will be available for four-week check out periods, with up to five renewals if it has not been requested by another library patron.

Artists whose work has been included in the first iteration of the art library include Butch Anthony, Melissa Markwald, Micah Kraus, Natalie Lanese, Angelo Merendino, Kadir Nelson, Mark Mothersbaugh, Jenny Schmid, John Sokol, Shane Wynn and many others.