Looking back on Bookleteer

June 23, 2011 by  

City As Material 1 Limited Edition Set

It is now a year since we launched the short run printing service for Bookleteer our online self publish and print platform. So now seemed like a good time to start a series of posts reflecting on the diverse uses people have found for it.  Fredrick Leasge has been doing a series of case studies and interviews over on the Bookleteer Blog with people who have used it. Ive been interested to read how some historical and ethnographic projects that have used this method of publishing for documentation and communication.

Julie Anderson, the Assistant Keeper of Egyptian and Sudanese Antiquities at the British Museum used Bookleteer to create 1000 books in Arabic and English about a 10 year archaeological excavation in Dangeil, Sudan to share the findings with the local community in Sudan.

Following the distribution of the book, teenagers began coming to our door in the village to ask questions about the site / archaeology / their own Sudanese history… connecting with their history as made possible through the booklet. It was astonishing. More surprising was the reaction people had upon receiving a copy. In virtually every single case, they engaged with the Book immediately and began to read it or look through it….The Book has served not only as an educational tool, but has empowered the local community and created a sense of pride and proprietary ownership of the ruins and their history.

Bookleteer was used in the Melanesia Project to record, Porer and Pinbin, indigenous people from Papua New Guinea discussing objects in the British Museum’s ethnographic collection. Bookleteer was used first to create simple notebooks that were printed out on an office printer and handmade. Anthrolologist James Leach used them to note the discussion in both English and Tok Pisin, next to glued in polaroid images, to produce a record that involved “capturing the moment of what we were doing and what we were seeing”.

Once filled in the notebooks were scanned and professionally printed to share with the local community in Papua New Guinea. (who have a subsistence lifestyle without electricity).

“[...] As something to give people, they’re an extremely nice thing. People are very keen. I also took some to an anthropology conference before I went [to Papua New Guinea] and would show them to people and they’d immediately say “Oh, is that for me?” People kind of like them. They’re nice little objects.”

Researcher and community education worker Gillian Cowell has used the books as part of a community project with Greenhill Historical Society:

“I think, for community work, it’s really important that you engage in much more unique and creative and interesting ways as a way of trying to spur some kind of interest and excitement in community work [...] The books are such a lovely way for that to actually fit with that kind of notion.”

If you are interested in finding out about how you could use Bookleteer, come along to one of our day long Pitch Up & Publish Workshops or Get Bookleteering short sessions this summer.

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