Anyone who has ever looked for comfortable living quarters in New York City can tell you that open space does not exist (or it has an insane broker fee). So for folks who wanted to create a pop-up library with room to breathe (let alone read), the answer was clear: head to the water. From now through Friday, October 3, the Floating Library will entrust its tomes to the decks of the historic Lilac Museum Steamship, riding the waves at Pier 25 in the Hudson River.
According to their website, the Floating Library hopes to offer its visitors serenity in a city where that feeling can be incredibly hard to achieve. “Historically, coffee houses and salons have served as rehearsal spaces for intellectual and cultural movements,” write the founders. “Yet, in New York we have lost such places where one can read or converse without loud music, a customer carrying on a phone conversation aloud, and keyboard chatter.”
Their solution? A totally unplugged place to park it. “Given this dilemma, Floating Library intervenes as an expanded site for participatory practice and civic engagement,” says the group. “It is an antidote to the disappearance of mental and physical space in the increasingly urbanized and cyberized world.” All library visitors are required to power-off their mobile devices upon arrival, along with giving a good-natured promise to keep the peace. Aboard the ship, everyone is invited to browse the library or BYOB (Bring Your Own Book). Then, enjoy the main deck for quiet reading or head to designated spaces for Writing & Drawing, Dialogue, Scanning and Listening.
Throughout the month, the library will also offer free public programming, including performances, workshops, roundtable discussions, and showcases featuring the city’s DIY makers and doers. According to the site, highlights will include: a bookmaking session with the Center for Book Arts and Small Editions, a furniture building workshop with Reid Bingham, a live taping with HeritageRadioNetwork, a sensory walk with the Movement Party, a multimedia sound performance from Pauchi Sasaki inside the Petty Officer’s Room (or what the library calls “a space akin to being inside the belly of a whale”).
The biggest happening slated for the ship, though, is its collaboration with “SeaChange: We All Live Downstream,” a project from Mare Liberum and 350.org. They’ll disembark for three days, where they’ll host office hours and discussions with the folks who’ve been riding in paper boats down the Hudson in preparation for the United Nations Climate Summit.
Ready for some serenity? The library is open at Hudson River Park's Pier 25 (on West Street and N. Moore Street) from September 6 through October 3. Visitors can come aboard Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays through Fridays during varying hours. Head over here to see the full schedule of events.