the bootleg library

the bootleg library

Simon Browne

The "bootleg library" is a particular, situated social infrastructure. It operates from the understanding that the library is a collection; a collection of the texts contained within it, and the readers collected around them. A reciprocal, self-reflexive relationship between the texts and the readers produces sociability. A bootleg is a homage, an unauthorised copy of a source publication; bootlegging is a strategy by which texts acquire diversity, resisting singularity and representing readers.

A physical, travelling collection stored in a former wine-box, a digital collection on a self-hosted server, and moments when readers come together create the conditions for producing texts; by bootlegging, uploading, editing, meeting in small rooms, in small groups and annotating the collection.

Tasks of the Contingent Librarian, a text written, edited and performed together, comprises an index of tasks (e.g bootlegging, reading/writing, amateuring, making it public/keeping it private, etc.) defined through the particular activities of the bootleg library. This text is published in several different forms, printed and digital, including a hyper-linked version on this website. Although the way they are written or read may vary, each text bears resemblance to the others; "originals" and "copies" alike.

Tasks of the Contingent Librarian

Library of Contingencies*

bootleg library session at Onomatopee Projects, Eindhoven, March 2020

A6 cards used for bootleg library session invitations, 2019-2020

A bootlegged book

The physical library at the Library, Karel Doormanhof 45, February 2020

The physical bootleg library installed at Varia, Rotterdam, January 2020

Bootleg colophon

The digital library:

bootlegging (reverse), from a printed edition of Tasks of the Contingent Librarian

bootleg library session: Notes on Texts*, at Art Meets Radical Openness 2020, and Onomatopee's Meeting Grounds

Library of Contingencies*, a digital edition of the Tasks of the Contingent Librarian with snippets from the practice of the bootleg library

[Simon Browne, the bootleg library, 2020. Rotterdam]. This work has been generously supported by the Ian Potter Cultural Trust. Special thanks and gratitude to the XPUB staff and students, the Piet Zwart Institute, Onomatopee Projects, de Appel and Varia. License — Copyleft: This is a free work. You can copy, distribute, and modify it under the terms of the Free Art License