Magnum Librus

Discover Books of Art in ConU’s Fine Arts Reading Room

  • The Fine Arts Reading Room is a space for students to relax, do homework and find the art books they might not see elsewhere at Concordia. Photo by Erin Sparks.

  • Photo by Erin Sparks.

  • The staff of the Fine Arts Reading Room get artsy and craftsy with their logo. Photo by Erin Sparks.

When you go to Concordia, there’s no reason to complain about having nothing to do on a Friday night—or any other day of the week for that matter. The campus is overrun with fine arts organizations; the only trick is finding them, and then staying on top of their ever-growing list of events.

Concordia arts organizations like the Fine Arts Reading Room, the Art Matters Festival and the VAV Gallery are major spaces for artsy cool-hunting at ConU.

The high-calibre events and exhibitions they put on throughout the year address a range of stimulating ideas—but most of all, they’re all curated, organized or managed by students.

This week’s subject is the Fine Arts Reading Room, located in the EV Building (1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., EV 2.785).

The Reading Room

The Fine Arts Reading Room offers an alternative to the Webster Library’s collection of fine arts books. Two years ago, the FARR began travelling to the annual New York Art Book Fair, returning to share their selections with the Concordia Community.

The trip was a game-changer for the FARR, said manager Lianne Zannier. “We formed a mandate where we look for books that come from interesting artist practices, exhibition catalogues, publications that are based on a unique theme or about challenging [art] rhetoric,” said Zannier. “We try to be really diverse.”

Their book selection isn’t the only diverse thing about FARR. They also offer a plethora of different services to students.

One is a website where Fine Arts students can set up an online portfolio.

“Students have actually gotten work purchased because of it,” said Zannier. “Different faculties, when they are renovating their offices, have purchased works based on their portfolio, and in several instances, people have found work.”

The FARR also puts money from their fee levy right back into the pockets of students.

Their artist-in-residence project provides two artists with resources to complete in-depth creative projects. While applications for that program are currently closed, there is still time to apply for their publication grant, where students can apply to make book works.

This year’s team has two new pet projects: Late Nights at the FARR turns their computers into viewing stations for multimedia student artwork, and they are currently working on a book-focused Concordia resource guide.

“There are all kinds of small libraries on campus that people don’t really know about,” said Zannier. “We want to be like, ‘Hey, we’re a little library too, so let’s all be friends!’”

Their intimate space is a great place to read and work, with four computers that can be booked for use—a reflection of the way they straddle the digital divide.

“We’re an art library, but we live in a digital era where we kind of fit in the middle,” Zannier said of the FARR’s focus. “It’s how to accommodate this digital era and still stay true to the tangible qualities of books.”

That tangible aspect extends to the room itself—it’s best experienced in person, said Zannier, and interested parties should get involved.

“Come and use the space, come talk to the people who work here. That’s the best way to get to know how we work and the direction we want the library to go in.”

Of their staff meetings, Zannier said, “They get a bit goofy, but then they get serious, but then they get goofy again.”

It’s an attitude that’s conducive to enjoyment, if not necessarily productivity. And while taking classes while managing the room is a challenge on its own, it’s a welcome one.

“As far as having a job on campus, it’s probably the best one,” Zannier said.

The FARR is open Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Learn more about it at readingroom.concordia.ca.

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