Everything on Wheels
Located throughout Albany Park and other Chicagoland neighborhoods are pedestals that serve as interactive book stations. Those who chance upon them have the opportunity to share responses to question prompts by writing or drawing into the books. Over time, these entries are collected as part of the Neighborhood Archive, offering a glimpse into the world that makes up our community.
With the intention of creating anonymous, open dialogue between individuals, the books serve as a way to share ideas and give voice to anyone willing to pick up a pen. They provide conversation starters, engage strangers, and sometimes just make us laugh. Collected content becomes a catalyst for future projects, collaborations, thematic class curricula, and meaningful discussions.
Host sites are selected based on location and willingness to participate. Most are high-traffic areas such as schools, community centers, restaurants, and small businesses where they are encountered by passersby on a consistent basis. Other times, they are brought to street festivals and fairs. In most cases, the sites are also willing to host bookmaking and related workshops as a way to help fulfill NBP's mission.
Each pedestal is custom-built using refurbished, salvaged parts and have unique features: some have space for an extra volume of books, others have storage for bookmaking materials. All are set on casters and intended to move to various locations and host sites. North Branch staff maintains periodic visits to each site, replacing books as they get filled and displaying new prompts to keep conversations going.
Question prompts are gathered from previous response book entries, which are inspired by current events and topics. Click here for a preview of some of the question prompts and responses in our response book gallery.
Support for this project was provided by The Propeller Fund, a joint administrated grant from Threewalls and Gallery 400 at The University of Illinois at Chicago.
Additional funding was provided by a separate 96 Acres Project grant for Department of Corrections, Little Village.
The Slanted One
The original response book pedestal, this three-tiered milk crate construction has traveled to a number of locations, including the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection, Bikes N' Roses, Nettlehorst Elementary, and multiple street fairs before making its way to Oak Park.
Chicago Literary Alliance
The Red Leg
This pedestal can house several response books. As one of the sturdy set, the Red Leg has endured many rain storms in the Ravenswood Manor location, all while keeping guests company in the cafe's outdoor eating area.
Seen it? Please let us know
This pedestal was made for the 96 Acres Project. Golf pencils are used as the writing implement for writing and drawing into the book.
D.O.C. Division 5
Cook County Jail Visitor Lobby,
Little Village, Chicago, IL
A second 96 Acres Project pedestal was created and placed in the library of Little Village High School, where the student population made up the majority of responses. After a year in the school, it moved to another library: the local branch in Albany Park where many students from both Von Steuben HS and Roosevelt HS now engage in the dialogue. Currently it resides in the Read/Write Library.
A student contributes an entry into one of the books located at Little Village Lawndale High School.