Sharpen your pencils, and not your trusty #2 Ticonderoga or Mirado Black Warrior--this is a job for Prismacolor and Faber-Castell. From February 6-11, libraries and cultural institutions worldwide will participate in the second "Color Our Collections" Week. The inaugural event grew out of a Twitter exchange between the New York Academy of Medicine and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. As it turns out, prints of woodcuts and engravings are just waiting to be colored in. Last year, thirty institutions participated in the celebration. Some shared a few choice images each day, while others like the Smithsonian and the Bodleian Library uploaded entire coloring books in PDF format to their websites. (Click on the links above to see.)
The Color Our Collections celebration is a curious convergence of old and new modes of communication offering a new way of interacting with materials rarely seen by the public. Connecting to potential patrons via Twitter, libraries and museums also affirm their relevance while engaging with a potentially global audience.
A teaser image from the Wangensteen Historical Library's coloring book: An illustration from a 1634 book by Ambroise Paré. (credit: University of Minnesota Libraries)
Though it may be tempting to write off the adult coloring fad as another sign of the infantilization of an aging generation, art therapy actually helps with concentration (stay within the lines!), relaxation, and yes, creative expression. There's something about holding a pencil and staring at a sheet of paper that provides an interactive experience screens have yet to achieve. Besides, who doesn't want to imagine oneself as a Benedictine monk, cloistered away in a scriptorium carefully illustrating precious works of art?
Choose from hundreds of images from a range of topics and share your work online, using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections. More information about the celebration, as well as a list of participating institutions, may be found here.