What we left behind.

The dusty smells, the ambiguous stains and the sometimes random notes left by users of library books are great moments of discovery for other library users. What we left behind. was a research project that sought to re-create this nostalgia for public libraries—and the tactile nature of exchange that they provide—by revealing and documenting some of the traces left in library books.

This story is told through a series of design experiments, journeying from discovering these paratexts to the realisation of a narrative of neglected library books. It is finalised through the creation of two hand-crafted books: a catalogue recording the location and description of a trace (and referencing traditional library archival practices) and a visual companion, which photographs the moments of interaction left by a user.

The collective notes, spills, rips and slips unearthed through this research project ultimately tells a diverse story of use for library books, and quietly celebrates the things that have been long forgotten and overlooked—much like the library books themselves after they have been returned.